Winter 2016

DC Honors Two LearnServe Teachers

LearnServe congratulates James Cunningham (School Without Walls), featured above, and Topher Kandik (SEED Public Charter School), honored by DCPS and OSSE as outstanding educators.

When it comes to LearnServe, James Cunningham has done it all.  He brought the LearnServe program with him to the School Without Walls, traveled to Ethiopia and Zambia with LearnServe Abroad, encouraged his two children to travel with LearrnServe to Zambia, and recruits and advises LearnServe Fellows from the School Without Walls.  We were proud to honor James with our inaugural Global Perspective Award in 2013.  And we are even more proud now to celebrate James Cunningham's well-deserved recognition as DCPS Teacher of the Year.

"Learning is not a classroom - it's a world.  And once you bring that to students, their entire outlook about what they want to be shifts." ~ James Cunningham.

 >> WJLA's full interview with James Cunningham

Topher Kandik has taught at the SEED Public Charter School - a long-standing LearnServe parter - for the past 9 years.  He led a group of SEED students to Zambia with LearnServe Abroad in 2011.  Topher was named Teacher of the Year by DC's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

>> Washington Post interview with Topher Kandik.

9th Annual LearnServe Coffee House

Meditation before exams? African American history courses in every school? On December 10, our LearnServe Fellows debuted their social venture ideas to a packed house at Impact Hub DC at LearnServe's 9th Annual Innovators' Coffee House. Missed the Coffee House, or left wanting more? Don't worry! Our Fellows will pitch their completed business plans at the LearnServe Panels and Venture Fair on Thursday, April 21, 2016. 

 >> Check out the highlight reel from our 9th Annual Innovators' Coffee House.

LearnServe Alumni Selected by POSSE

Congratulations to Carlos Piedrasanta (Rockville High School) and Malik Hodge (E.L. Haynes Public Charter School), LearnServe alumni selected as POSSE Scholars.  Over 1,600 students were nominated for 60 spots in the scholarship program from DC.  The Posse Foundation identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential and places them in supportive, multicultural teams — Posses — of 10 students each in universities around the country. Students receive four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. More than 10 LearnServe alumni have been selected as POSSE Scholars in recent years. For many of them, their experiences with LearnServe have been pivotal to their Posse applications. We wish Carlos and Malik, and all of our other alumni, the best of luck as they begin their college careers.

LearnServe Paraguay '15 Takes Action

The hardest part of every LearnServe Abroad trip is often coming home.  Not only going back to your every day life, but then having to think about what to do next.  Each LearnServe Abroad traveler is expected to create an Action Plan – to do something to bring the culture they were immersed in home, or to give back to the organizations who hosted them.  These projects are usually done either individually or in pairs. Last year's LearnServe Paraguay cohort realized that they could achieve the greatest impact by working as a team, just like they had in Paraguay. They saw the Centro Comunitario Cultural's activities cramped into the corner of a school building. Their new stand-alone community center - purchased with support from prior LearnServe Paraguay groups - was not yet ready for occupancy, lacking the funds needed for a full renovation. So the LearnServe Paraguay '15 group decided to raise funds to help Domingo and the Centro to fulfill their dream of completing the renovation of their stand-alone community center to serve the residents of Santa Ana.

Thank you for your help from everyone in LearnServe Abroad and the community of Santa Ana, Paraguay.

Their team effort paid off.  With the generous support of their friends and families, and of other LearnServe Paraguay alumni, the group surpassed their goal, raising $2,071 for the community center.

STAFF PROFILE: Gayle Robinson

Gayle joined LearnServe in 2014 through American University's Coverdell Fellows Program for Returned Peace Corps volunteers and has been a Co-Leader for the LearnServe Fellows program ever since. She has a background in Youth Development through the YMCA and as a Peace Corps education volunteer in Ghana.

By day, Gayle is the Northern Virginia Education Manager of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. By night, Gayle is pursuing a Masters of Science in Development Management, as well as nagging her LearnServe students about progress on their venture proposals and planned the 2016 Social Action Summit.  She grew up in Reston, VA and attended South Lakes High School. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in Political Science and minors in Sociology and Leadership.

Gayle loves LearnServe because of the staff and students she gets to work with. It is such a uniquely empowering program that she strongly believes every young person in the world should go through. Whether they are aware or not, it is incredible how much each Fellow learns and grows throughout the process and its amazing to be a part of that transformation!

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