Tenacity Community Newsletter Fall 2015

The newly expanded College Prep and Post-Secondary Services team includes (back row, from left) Andrew Martland, Jelani Townsell, (middle row, from left) Adriana DeSouza, Carolyn Acosta, Ella Brandon, (front row, from left) Oneda Horne, Ashley Carey, and Sarah Cohen.

College Prep and Post-Secondary Services Team Grows Exponentially

Tenacity’s Next Chapter extends our focus to ensuring Pathway alumni have the comprehensive, wrap-around social and academic supports they need to achieve high school graduation and then successfully transition to and complete a post-secondary program. Our goal is to maintain or improve our 95% high school graduation rate and see more than 75% of Tenacity high school graduates complete college or an approved post-secondary program.

In order to reach this goal, the College Prep and Post-Secondary Services team has added three new Student and Family Support Coordinators. In August, we welcomed Ashley Carey, Adriana DeSouza, and Jelani Townsell. Their collective talents and drive will help the expanded team ensure that each Pathway student receives the individualized support necessary to realize his or her full potential.

We are also thrilled to announce that Sarah Cohen, who has served over the last two years as a Student and Family Support Coordinator, has transitioned to serving as our Manager of Post-Secondary Planning. Sarah will support our 12th grade students as well as students who are in the first year of their Post-Secondary Plan.

Other key developments in the department include Professional Development opportunities for each member of the team and the addition of two interns who are providing critical support - Carlos Lopes and Shawn Fonge.

The professional development opportunities offered team members a chance to build on their expertise and expand their knowledge in areas such as Financial Aid Counseling, Racial Equity, and Sports and Society. The latter was a four part series on the Impact of Trauma and Resiliency in Sports Based Youth Development. Staff are looking forward to integrating elements from these workshops into their practice.

Meet the New CP and PSS Team Members

Adriana DeSouza recently graduated from the Boston College (BC) School of Social Work, where she earned her LCSW. Adriana completed her undergraduate training at Umass Boston. She brings a range of clinical and macro social work skills, as well as fluency in Portuguese. Adriana has served both as a Clinical Case Manager Intern at the North Shore Medical Center Union Hospital, as well as a School Adjustment Counselor Intern at Malden High School. Additionally, while a graduate student at BC, Adriana worked with doctoral students on the college’s Diversity Task Force.

Ashley Carey rounds out the BC Eagle trifecta having completed her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Most recently, Ashley served as a School Based Clinician and has worked with students at the Margarita Muniz Academy, Snowden International School, and the Community Academy of Science and Health (C.A.S.H). While enrolled at BC, Ashley co-led a girl’s support group at the Jeremiah Burke High School. Ashley completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Jelani Townsell earned his master’s degree in Sports Management from the famed University of Connecticut, where he also worked as an Academic Advisor for the Men’s Basketball team. Jelani has experience with a wide student age range, as he has led two summer basketball camps at both Providence College and UConn. Most recently, Jelani served as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach as well as the Athletics Academic Liaison/Head Men’s & Women’s Cross Country Coach at Newbury College. Jelani completed his undergraduate education at Temple University.

Fall 2015 Post-Secondary Enrollment

Tenacity High School Seniors who graduated last spring have matriculated into an exciting array of colleges and post-secondary programs.

  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Bunker Hill Community College*
  • Cornell University
  • Eastern Nazarene College
  • Fisher College
  • Framingham State University*
  • Johnson and Whales University
  • Lasell College*
  • Mass Bay Community College*
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Middlesex Community College
  • Mt. Holyoke College*
  • Newbury College
  • Northeastern Foundation Year
  • Pine Manor College
  • Quincy College*
  • Roxbury Community College
  • The College of Holy Cross*
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Massachusetts - Boston*
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • Westfield State University

*more than one student enrolled

Tenacity College Prep alumnus, Chris Baez, is heading to Parris Island this fall to complete 13 weeks of basic training for the Unites States Marine Corps. Upon completion, Chris will have gained mastery in the areas of discipline, character development, military bearing, esprit de corps, Marine Corps common combat skills, and combat conditioning.

Marching Toward Success

Chris Baez graduated from high school last spring and is about to embark on a journey through boot camp for the Marines. Recently, he shared his thoughts on how he found a pathway to success with Tenacity’s support.

Chris joined Tenacity’s Middle School Academy (MSA) as a 6th grader at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in 2008. When asked what drew him and his family to Tenacity his answer was twofold – the program offered a safe, fun, and supportive environment and also provided help with academics. With their home located in a rough neighborhood, the promise of a positive activity in a safe environment was particularly compelling. According to Chris, “Tenacity helped keep me off the streets, helped me with school, helped turn me into a better person – basically changed my life and helped me mature.”

One of Chris’ early dreams was to be a professional baseball player, so competition came naturally to him. The tennis component of MSA quickly tapped into Chris’ competitive spirit. When asked what he enjoyed the most in MSA, he laughed and said “Definitely the tennis.” He mentioned how what he most looked forward to was Team Tennis - weekly tournaments where teams from different MSA school sites play matches against each other. Chris shared “I was always so excited to be picked to participate and worked really hard to earn a spot each week.” He went on to talk about how preparing for and playing in the tournaments provided a wonderful opportunity to be part of a team, improve his tennis and leadership skills, and better understand things like collaboration and perseverance.

When asked about how his experience in Middle School Academy impacted him, Chris talked about how important and influential his connection to Adam Souza, the Tennis & Fitness Coordinator at the Frederick, was to him: “I looked up to him and admired how he communicated and interacted with everyone. He had a way of making the students, and me, feel valued as individuals.” Taryn Souza, now married to Adam and currently the Academic Coordinator at Umana Academy, was the Academic Coordinator at the Frederick during Chris’ 8th grade year. She fondly remembers Chris as “energetic and spunky. He loved tennis but sometimes struggled with his academics. By 8th grade, even though he was sometimes off the wall, he had already turned into a leader and role model who was looked up to by the younger students in the program.”

Chris readily admits that his academic struggles continued throughout high school. When asked if he could go back in time and do something differently, what he would change, he grins and says: “I would be less social and concentrate more on getting good grades.” While his family had moved to Dedham when he started high school, Chris continued to have support through Tenacity’s College Prep program. Andrew Martland, the Assistant Director of the College Prep program, was an integral part of Chris’ support network during high school, helping keep him on track and focused on graduating. Andrew shared that “Chris is the kind of person who inspires people to believe in him. Even though he was just one student among many, both the Principal and Vice Principal of Dedham High School would reach out to me personally to make sure that Chris would successfully graduate.”

During his senior year, Chris came to realize that “joining the military would provide a great learning opportunity.” He acknowledged that his learning style is more about hands on experience and feels like the training, discipline, and opportunity to study mechanics and engineering in the Marines will prepare him well for the future. To prepare to ship off to Parris Island, Chris has been training twice a day to get in top shape - exhibiting an important trait that will take him far - tenacity.

Middle School Academy Innovations

With our expanded partnership with Extended Learning Time (ELT) schools, Tenacity is now providing programming on Fridays at three of our six sites (the McCormack, the Umana, and the Irving). Even staff in our Out of School Time (OST) sites, which continue to operate Mondays through Thursdays, report to their partner school on Fridays in order to provide push in and other operational support to the school. Having a more consistent presence at schools on Fridays allows staff more opportunities to participate in critical family meetings, grade level meetings, and student support meetings, ultimately providing more support for students and families.

New Co-Teaching Model Piloted at Mario Umana Academy

At the Umana, Tenacity staff are partnering with the Umana Literacy department to provide an innovative co-teaching model that ensures the alignment between the Tenacity curriculum and the instructional priorities of the school. The Umana students’ English Language Arts teacher supports both the lesson planning and the implementation of the instruction through station facilitation and whole class behavior management.

Expanded professional development builds a strong foundation

Through a creative, “one-of-a-kind” relationship with Research for Better Teaching, an Acton, MA-based global leader in teacher training, all instructional staff and AmeriCorps Fellows have participated in 20+ hours of high quality professional development, the aim of which is to elevate the caliber of instruction, coaching, lesson planning, and cultural proficiency of all adults who work at our sites.

Middle School Academy Growth Brings New Faces

We are excited to welcome nine new full-time staff members to the Middle School Academy (MSA) team.

David Lang is the new Academic Coordinator at the Curley K-8 School. David comes to Tenacity from UP Academy Dorchester and has also held leadership positions in after school programming in Boston.

Natalia Rodriguez is the new Academic Coordinator at the Jackson|Mann K-8 School. Natalia is coming to Tenacity after working both at UP Academy Boston and most recently as the Family and Community Engagement Coordinator at the Dever Elementary School.

Debbie Dowlin is the new Site Director & Academic Coordinator at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School. Debbie comes to Tenacity from Wellstone Campaign Corps and having taught Spanish for several years for the School District of Philadelphia, spanning elementary through high school.

Brianna Burke rejoins Tenacity as the Tennis & Fitness Coordinator at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School. Brianna served as a Coach Across America Fellow for Tenacity at the McCormack Middle School last year.

Jordan Smith is the new Site Director at the Curley K-8 School. Jordan relocated to the Boston area from Texas, where she served as a middle school teacher, an instructional coach for middle school teachers, and a tennis coach for middle school students.

Taryn Souza rejoins Tenacity’s MSA program as the Academic Coordinator at the Umana. Taryn has held many roles at Tenacity, from AmeriCorps Fellow to Site Director to STRP Sector Leader. She recently completed a Master’s program in Spain and has also taught in South Korea.

Jake Vlahakis rejoins Team Umana as the Family Engagement Coordinator. He has served for the last two years as the AmeriCorps Academic Fellow followed by the AmeriCorps Family Engagement Fellow at the Umana. In the process he has developed many positive relationships with Umana students, families, and faculty.

Caitlin Cataldo rejoins Tenacity as the Tennis & Fitness Coordinator at the Umana after a year of service as the AmeriCorps Community Engagement Fellow at the McCormack Middle School. Caitlin graduated from Connecticut College, where she played Varsity Lacrosse and was student coordinator of the athletic department’s tutoring program.

Doug McNichol is the new Academic Coordinator at the Washington Irving Middle School. Doug joins Tenacity after working at the Cristo Rei School in Dorchester. He recently completed his Master’s Degree in Education from Boston College.

New BPS Partner School Added to Middle School Academy

The Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale is Tenacity’s newest Middle School Academy site.

After conducting a seven-month exploratory fact-finding and relationship building process, we are delighted to share that Tenacity is expanding to the Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale for our sixth Middle School Academy site. The Irving’s instructional and school culture leadership team shares in our excitement to cultivate a lasting partnership that will benefit Irving students and their families.

The leader of our team at the Irving is Tristan Norbert, serving as both the Site Director and Tennis & Fitness Coordinator. Over the last few years, Tristan has distinguished himself as an exemplary tennis and fitness coordinator, a gifted coach for AmeriCorps Fellows, and an all-around advocate for the critical youth development work we are invested in. Colleen Giroux, Family Engagement Coordinator, and Doug McNicol, Academic Coordinator, round out the site leadership team. They are joined by four AmeriCorps Fellows.

An Elementary Program student at the Jackson Mann K-8 School works on her forehand shot.

Studies have shown that not only does playing sports promote health and fitness, sports-based youth development is one of the most powerful tools to positively transform kids’ lives. Tennis is a sport that gets kids moving, improves balance, agility and hand-eye coordination, and can teach self-confidence and self-assurance. By using smaller courts and foam balls, our students are able to achieve faster stroke progression and rallying success. After learning forehands, backhands, and volleys, they quickly progress to playing games such as King of the Court.

The goal of the Elementary Program is to build a recruitment pool of candidates for Tenacity’s Middle School Academy (MSA) while providing valuable lessons in self-control and sportsmanship. Elementary Program students who find they love the activities, camaraderie, and interaction with our staff are encouraged to join the MSA program when they reach 6th grade.

Serving Up Tennis and Reading to 5,000 Boston Youth

For 16 consecutive summers, Tenacity has offered its dynamic Summer Tennis & Reading Program (STRP) to help stem summer learning loss and build a love for tennis in kids throughout the city of Boston. This past summer, over 5,000 children and teenagers read books, honed literacy skills, learned the basics of tennis, and competed in friendly matches at 24 Boston sites. Having notched its seventh season, the STRP in Worcester continued to grow, serving 600 youth at four Worcester sites.

In addition to being a fun, free, and educational summer program for participants, the STRP in Boston also provides job skills and leadership development opportunities for over 40 Tenacity College Prep students and Pathway program alumni each year. This is often the first job many of these students have had and the experience helps them develop a sense of agency and personal accountability while fostering positive identities as mentors and leaders. In the end, they come away with deeper connections to their Tenacity peers and a strong sense of community.

AmeriCorps: Getting Things Done for Boston Students

Over the last 21 years, almost one million men and women have joined AmeriCorps to make our country stronger. On October 16th, 2,500 AmeriCorps members across the Commonwealth celebrated Massachusetts AmeriCorps Opening Day at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center.

Nationwide, thousands of people took the pledge to become AmeriCorps members, including 27 Tenacity AmeriCorps Fellows. Since AmeriCorps’ inception in 1994, over 1.2 billion hours of service have been committed to help solve some of our nation’s toughest challenges, community by community.

In a moving address about his time spent in the Peace Corps and the power of public service, Congressman Joe Kennedy III summed up the importance of the work that all of the new AmeriCorps members are undertaking: “You are filling the gaps in a system that leaves far too many people behind. The impact reverberates across time, distance, language, and generations.”

Tenacity’s AmeriCorps Fellows work directly with our Middle School Academy students on academics, family engagement, independent reading, high school selection, fitness/tennis, and more, significantly increasing the impact of Tenacity’s efforts to close the education and opportunity gaps for underserved Boston youth.

Tenacity AmeriCorps Fellow, Malcolm Neville, works with Middle School Academy students at McCormack Middle School.

AmeriCorps Fellow Opportunities

We are seeking great people to fill our Tenacity AmeriCorps Fellow roles for 2015-16. Do you have a loved one or neighbor who graduated from college last spring or summer? Or is there someone you know who is considering a career change and thinks education mixed with tennis and fitness might be a great next step? If so, this could be the perfect opportunity.

Tenacity offers a one-year service opportunity leading to a rich experience in youth development, whole child education philosophy, and urban education in our Middle School Academy (MSA) program. Tenacity AmeriCorps Fellows lead middle school youth and teach a literacy and tennis/fitness curriculum in one of our six partner schools in Boston. Responsibilities include leading small groups of students in various academic and fitness activities in an after-school or school-day classroom setting during the school year. Fellows also help create lesson plans for literacy blocks as well as tennis and fitness blocks, recruit and manage volunteers, assist in data entry, and facilitate family engagement initiatives. In the summer, Fellows take leadership roles, running summer camp sites in Tenacity’s Summer Tennis and Reading Program. To apply or for more information, email: Apply2BFellow@tenacity.org.

Inaugural Tenacity A.C.E. Festival is a smashing success.

On September 26th, Tenacity’s first ever Annual Celebration of Everyone (A.C.E.) Festival was held at Madison Park in Roxbury. The purpose of the festival was to celebrate the entire Tenacity community, past and present.

Caitlin Cataldo, Tennis & Fitness Coordinator at Mario Umana Academy, helps lead a relay race that required concentration and balance. The festival offered a wide range of activities, games, and competitions.

An energetic festival participant displays his double dutch moves after being wowed by a jump rope demonstration performed by former Grand National Champion and Tenacity staff member Becca Stocker.

Sunny skies and rousing music were the perfect backdrop as Coach Anja from New Balance put Tenacity students, families, and staff through their paces during a high energy fitness demonstration.

Scenes from the first ever Tenacity A.C.E. Festival.
Tenacity students line the Boston Marathon race route with colorful posters to cheer on the Tenacity Marathon Team.

Tenacity Marathon Team

Led by the tireless efforts of Tenacity Board member Caroline Lane, Tenacity is in the process of assembling a dynamic team of engaged, committed runners for the 2016 Boston Marathon. As an official BAA Charity Team, our runners have set a goal of raising $125,000 to support Tenacity’s youth development programs.

Since 2013, over 2,650 new donors have supported Tenacity through the BAA Charity Team program, contributing over $426,000. This year’s team is aiming to push that total past $550,000 by April 18, 2016.

To support a runner and help us reach this ambitious goal, visit the 2016 marathon team’s page at: www.crowdrise.com/tenacityboston2016

Save the Date for the 2016 "Show Your Tenacity" Gala

Each year more than 700 guests join Tenacity’s staff at our annual gala to celebrate the success and impact of the Tenacity Pathway Programs and mark the amazing achievements that Tenacity students have accomplished. The gala theme, Show Your Tenacity, highlights the many ways that our students, staff, board members, partners, volunteers, and supporters demonstrate our namesake quality. The evening will be filled with fun, friends, and fine dining to go along with exciting entertainment, inspiring stories, and exclusive auction items. Mark your calendars and come out to show your support for the tenacious students we serve. Together we can help ensure that Boston youth from under-resourced communities have an opportunity to grow, learn, and ultimately realize their full potential on their Pathway to Post-Secondary Success.

The 2016 Tenacity Gala | Saturday, May 21, 2016 | Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel | 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210

For sponsorship or event information, please contact: Lindsey Ferris, Director, Annual Giving & Special Events at lindseyferris@tenacity.org or 617-562-0900 x29

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