engage! - Office of Engagement Programs


engage! - Office of Engagement Programs
Office of Engagement Programs •Hendricks Chapel
[email protected] • 315.443.1254
Rhythm and Roots
May 2012
On the afternoon of April 3, as students rushed out of Blodgett School on
the Near Westside, I walked against the crowds toward the cafeteria.
The last bell of the day had just rung and most students made a quick exit from the building, but a handful of eager
students convened to pick up their drums and have hasty, last-minute conversations about the coming performance. These
students, as well as local teachers, parents, community members, and Syracuse University students, were all part of a
new and exciting initiative. The Rhythm and Roots program, a collaboration between Syracuse University and the Syracuse School District, taught by renowned music educator and this spring’s artist in residence, Nisha Purushotham, sought
to bring together a diverse cross-section of the community with a shared goal of creating peace through art. When I
arrived that afternoon to see the final product of a semester spent hard at work, it was clear that the group realized
many of these goals. Syeisha Byrd, Director of the Office of Engagement Programs and a participant in the Rhythm and
Roots program, reflected on this learning experience,
“At the end of every drumming lesson, Nisha would
invite everyone to gather around in a circle and
reflect on what everyone appreciated, what they had
learned from someone else, or what activity they
enjoyed most that day. In the beginning, the youth
would shy away and needed extra time to think of
the questions that had been asked. By the end of the
project, the youth were eager to reflect at the end of
the day and openly discuss what went well and what
improvements that they still had to work toward.”
This marked the final performance for the program, which included 10 workshops, two rehearsals, and two
performances. As I sat down and the students started drumming, Purushotham’s energy and enthusiasm caught on as
faces lit up and students began to relax and fall into their parts in the music. When it was their turn to stand up, each
participant moved up the microphone and read their part in music, poems that each member of the group had contributed to and that they mixed together to create one seamless monologue. When the performance ended, there were
hugs and encouragement all around and it was clear that, while the program was over, the learning and growth that the
participants and the community experienced from Rhythm and Roots would last for years to come.
Written by Erica Monnin
Table of Contents
Rhythm and Roots • Cover Page
Graduating Staff Spotlights • Page 2
Graduating Mentors • Page 2
A smART New Start • Page 3
Creating Art Together • Page 3
IYS Wednesday Nights • Page 4
MLK Community Event • Page 5
Better Together • Page 5
OEP By the Numbers • Page 6
Tess Perselay
Tess has worked with us for this past year as a Program Assistant for IYS,
coordinating Monday night and Saturday morning programs. Her
experience as a leader in the IYS program has given her skills and
experience that will be valuable as she takes her next steps in life. After
graduation, Tess is moving to Washington, DC, to work in non-profit
development jobs with a focus on Africa.
Meredith Nackley
Meredith has been a part of the OEP office for two years as a
Program Assistant for IYS on Wednesday evenings at the Northside
Learning Center. Meredith’s work with this program has helped us to
strengthen connections with a new part of the community. Following
her graduation, Meredith will attend the University of St. Augustine for
Health Sciences to pursue her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and her
Masters in Occupational Therapy.
Ron Harvey
Ron began working with OEP after serving as a volunteer for
several semesters and a liaison between our office and the
National Society of Black Engineers. Ron’s leadership established a
strong connection between this group and the local youth seeking help
with their math and science homework. Ron will be graduating this spring
with a degree in Engineering.
Liz Congdon
Liz joined the OEP staff ranks after standing out as a mentor for the
smART program. This semester, Liz helped to expand the smART program
to a third location at Magnarelli Community Center on Syracuse’s north
side. With her background in fine arts, Liz was a great addition to the
team and brought new and creative ideas to smART. Next year, Liz plans
to pursue a graduate degree in the arts.
Our Graduating Mentors
Sean Moore
Chelsea Holmes
Cat Rivera
Meagan Salisbury
Candice Capeda
Sarah Rittenhouse
Annie Knox
Scott McLoughlin
Daquan Dennis
A smART New Start
After the huge success of smART at
Grant Middle School and 601 Tully,
OEP took the program one more step
and expand to the Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park on
the north side of Syracuse. Following
our successful development of smART in
after school programs, we decided to
expand on this initiative and move
into another community center. With the help of our new
smART Program Assistant, Liz Congdon, a student in the
College of Visual and Performing Arts, we were able to bring
new and creative ideas to the program. Students experimented with paper mache, covering balloons to make piñatas,
created stamps out of rubber blocks, used silk screens to print
images, and used plastic and hairdryers to make shrinking art.
Under Liz’s leadership and with the enthusiastic cooperation of
the staff at the Magnarelli Community Center, smART was able
to flourish at yet another location and bring opportunities to
another population of students.
Creating Art Together
This semester, OEP launched a new program in collaboration with
the Shaw Center for Service Learning and Office of
Residence Life to extend art programming to schools and after
school programs across the city of Syracuse. In an effort to help
supplement art funding and educate elementary and middle
school students on diversity, the Creating Art Together program
brought SU student volunteers into the local community to read to
students and facilitate discussions on individuality and
diversity. In the extremely diverse neighborhoods, we sought to
raise students’ awareness of diversity and help them to
understand and celebrate their own unique identities. Students
used pastels, water color, paper mache, and tiles to depict
themselves through their art and focus on what makes them
special. This program culminated in an end-of-the-year reception
that brought together student volunteers and university staff to
reflect on the experience and share the art that students created
over the course of the semester.
International Young Scholars: Wednesday Nights
The International Young Scholars program at the Northside Learning Center has been an
influential part of student refugee education on the north side of Syracuse. At the program, mentors
work with mentees to help with homework, facilitate the learning of the English language, and build
relationships. When you come to the Northside Learning Center on a typical Wednesday evening, the
halls are crowded with mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, all waiting for lessons to start. At 5:30
on the dot, the classrooms fill up with eager faces of people ready to soak up a secondary education.
The International Young Scholars work mainly in the room with teenage girls on Wednesday
nights. The girls who attend program have all have come to America within the past couple years and
set aside their evenings to learn English outside of the regular classroom. Every Wednesday night, students from Syracuse University take over the classroom and fill in for the Northside Learning Center’s
volunteer teacher.
This new initiative commenced in the fall of 2010 and, over the past two years, the program has undergone some changes to cater to the needs of its attendees. The room was stuffed with
girls and only a few students from Syracuse University mentored during the first semester. Now, in the
spring of 2012, we can pair up about two mentees with one mentor to create a close-knit learning
partnership. The program facility allowed International Young Scholars to work out of two classrooms
instead of one. One classroom was designated for homework help, in a quieter setting. The other
classroom was set aside for fun and interactive learning activities.
The content of learning material has shifted over the past two years at the program as
well. When International Young Scholars first started working at the Northside Learning Center, lesson
plans were strictly related to language. Lessons consisted of reading passages and writing responses.
Now, the program focuses more so on the practical application of the English language in the real
world. Some of the newer lesson plans include dictionary and thesaurus use, reference paper writing,
and online resource use.
One thing has not changed over the past two years: the enthusiasm and excitement present
at the Northside Learning Center every Wednesday night. The girls who attend the program do not
like when summer comes around, because they know that it will be a few months before they see their
mentors again. With eyes set on the future of International Young Scholars, the program staff hopes
to see the Northside Learning Center initiative continue to grow so that each girl can have their own
mentor to work with in the coming school year.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Event
OEP kicked off the spring semester with a day full of service at the Martin Luther
King Jr. Day Community Celebration at Dr. Weeks Elementary School. The day
included dance performances and rooms full of activities and demonstrations.
Our office participated in this program by creating an opportunity for children
to get involved in the day and create “peaceful critters” made of yarn. As kids
filled the room, volunteers worked to teach them how to wrap the yarn around
pieces of cardboard and attach googly eyes and pipe cleaners for antenna.
Parents joined in to help and children were able to walk away with their own
critters to take home.
Better Together
The Better Together campus initiative, led by the Interfaith Student
Council, including Azhar Ali, Leah Nussbaum, Ismail Pathan, and Rachel
Tjornehoj, took on various programs to bring together students of
different faith and non-faith backgrounds to raise awareness on issues
of hunger, both globally and locally. At the Can It! event the Better
Together Syracuse campaign partnered with Georgetown to show
solidarity in the fight against hunger. In the weeks leading up to the
game, both campuses held canned food drives which culminated in
the collection at the Dome on game day. Overall, SU collected 1370
pounds of canned items, $1560.13 in monetary donations, and received
a $1000 donation from Price Waterhouse Cooper for the Food Bank of
CNY. During the annual blood drive, the Better Together Syracuse
campaign hosted a food packaging event where students gathered
around tables to combine raw ingredients into bags and then seal and
package the bags into large boxes to be shipped around the world.
With the help of over 20 volunteers, SU was able to package over
12,000 meals for those in need. With a successful year behind them,
the Interfaith Student Council looks forward to another year of social
justice dialogue and civic engagement.
Office of Engagement Programs
Hendricks Chapel
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244
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OEP By the Numbers
27 blankets
donated to the
V.A. Hospital and
the Center for
New Americans
682 Saturday
114 volunteer
morning hours spent
by local youth at IYS
hours at smART
12,000 meals
packaged and donated
72 mentors who
volunteered with
IYS this semester
3824 cans and
1370 pounds of food
collected and donated
1 staff member
in a lion costume