At Roads to Success, we believe it is important that our students experience the values that make up our circle of courage; generosity, belonging, independence & mastery in every aspect of our programming. Here are some of the many ways RTS implements our “Circle of Courage” within its programs:
After most students finish their homework, they rush off to play a game or talk to their friends. When a 3rd, 4th or 5th grade student, enrolled in Roads to Success at the Hamilton Heights school, finishes their homework they participate in a daily journaling activity. Each month, students are given a new journal containing a month's worth of writing prompts related to a given theme. Past prompts have included such topics as:
- If you could give a martian a tour of the planet Earth, what 10 places would you show them?
- Write a letter to your favorite author
- Describe to the best of your ability your favorite sandwich, including all of the ingredients
The site director says "Students are given so little time to write creatively during the school day now, writing like this took some time for them to get used to, but we try to give as much verbal encouragement and written feedback as possible. Now students who were originally hesitant to participate have come to really enjoy it. We have some gifted writers. RTS believes that writing allows children to become confident and self-assured."
In one of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes being offered at both MS 57 and Brooklyn Coloaborative Middle School, students receive a different kind of music education. Members of instructor Joey Barnes Music and Video Production Club use MIDI keyboards, Propellerhead software, laptops and smartboards to hone their production skills.
Up until now, the class has focused on understanding rhythm, frequency charts, song structure, and creating a technical reference manual. The club's next step is to split its members into different groups including Producers, Song Writers, and Performers in order to start work on a mix tape which will hopefully be completed later this winter.
In order to achieve this goal, club members are certainly going to have to make good use of all of the technical knowledge they have gained so far, but Barnes wants the focus of the class to remain intently on self-expression and originality he went on to explain:
"Creativity is the appeal of being a producer. Kids don't get very much control in the decision making that impacts their everyday lives, but making music is one of the things that they can do to be free"
At Roads to Success, we try to foster Generosity in our participants in a variety of different ways. At MS 57 the students organized and participated in an event benefiting a local charity for breast cancer research, in which they collected donations and played a program wide game of Capture the Cure - research themed capture the flag tournament. For years, the students at AmPark have been participating in a Reading Mentors program which has the oldest students spend one hour a week every week reading to, and later reading with the Kindergarten students. At Girls Prep, one of the ways they teach generosity is through their daily Superstar Sister ceremony. During the ceremony, the girls nominate each other for specials necklaces they make themselves based on acts of kindness they have performed over the course of a day.
Every Roads to Success program has several special events over the course of the school year dedicated to celebrating diversity, family, and community. These are all the very important ways in which we show the value of "belonging."
However, belonging as a value is present on a daily basis, not just at special events. All of our activities are designed to foster a sense of belonging, and several rituals take place throughout the course of the day to increase our participants feelings of their own self worth including rallies to start the day, and program wide daily wrap ups.