Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bridging the Divide at Warren Township High School

With the freshman and senior classes being roughly the same size this year, Warren at Schuler had a unique opportunity to pair up freshman and senior Scholars in our first Scholar Mentor Program. Because Warren is split up into a freshman/sophomore and junior/senior campus, it is difficult to establish the same unity across classes that may be easier for other Schuler schools to achieve, so we were excited for the opportunity to more intentionally bridge this physical divide. Through the program, the two Scholar classes have been able to get to know each other through fun events such as a fun corn maze and attending the musical “Hamilton” together, as well as academically-minded gatherings, such as tutoring groups during Freshman Finals STEP.

Freshman and senior Scholars before going on their Hamilton exposure together! 
We interviewed Scholars Kaylyn Wright ‘17 and Demetrius Palmer ‘20, one of our mentor/mentee pairings, and here is what they had to say about the new program: 

What did you expect being a mentor/mentee would be like?

Kaylyn: Coming into the whole mentoring thing I expected there was going to be an emphasis on academics. So basically I thought I was going to be a tutor for the most part. Also, I did not think that the friendship with my mentee would extend outside of the mentor program events.

Demetrius: Coming into being a mentee, I was very skeptical about the idea and wasn't sure what it was all about or what the requirements were. I wasn't sure if my mentor and I were going to bond or really connect.

What has it been like so far? Have there been any aspects that surprised you? 

K: So far it has been a really cool experience that I am enjoying. I was surprised by the pairing of the mentors and mentees, because most of them are quite accurate. I get along well with D, and haven't seen any other mentors not get along with their mentees.

D: So far the mentor program has surprised me a lot. My mentor and I are really close friends now and we hang out all the time. Also it was great to talk to someone who is finishing up the journey that I know I'm beginning. He knew the school, teachers, and classes that I'm taking, so he was a really great person to go to when I had questions or in need of advice.

What was your favorite mentor program event and why?

K: For me it would be the corn maze because it was quality time with my mentee and other mentees. Finding our way through the maze revealed a glimpse of D's optimism. No matter how many times we went in circles, he still had a good time.

D: My favorite mentor program exposure was the trip we went on to the corn maze. It was really fun to work in our small groups and use team skills to navigate our way out.

What is something you’ve learned from your mentor/mentee? 

K: D taught me, or more so reminded me, to not take things so seriously and find fun in unlikely situations. Senior year is important to get good grades and stay on top of everything, but also to enjoy my last year in high school.

D: My mentor taught me to view situations with multiple perspectives, and that there's always more options than you think. My mentor taught me this when we were in the corn maze, and we were choosing a route to take.

Where would you like to see this program go in the future? 

K: It would be nice to see this program continue and give senior Scholars the chance to see how they are role models to the new freshman. Hopefully it becomes a program in all the Schuler schools.

D: I believe the mentor program is very helpful and should definitely stay within the Schuler Program. I believe the program gives freshmen someone to ask questions to, look up to, and connect with on a meaningful level.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Group Reading Enrichment Programs at GWCP and LMSA

Reading Enrichment (REP) is a core program at Schuler. REP is usually an individual time for a Scholar and their reading coach to meet twice a week to read and discuss a book together. However, Scholars at George Westinghouse College Prep and Lindblom Math and Science Academy have been shaking things up. Their Scholars participated in group reading sessions last semester.

Don't judge a book by its cover
Freshmen Scholars read the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls last semester for REP. As an assignment, Scholars either redesigned the book cover or created a book cover for their own memoir. 

College-style literature discussions at LMSA 
In January we hosted the first group REP session at Lindblom. Scholar Coaches Caroline, Katie, and seven Scholars are reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah. The novel follows the story of a Nigerian woman who comes to the United States for college. It covers themes of immigration, feminism, race, and academia.

It is especially exciting that so many Scholars are reading this book because we were able to have a group discussion circle about the themes of the novel. Scholars met after school in a Scholar-led discussion modeled after a college-style literature conversation. During this time, Scholars heard from each other and shared their different interpretations of the story. It was also a chance for our sophomore and freshmen Scholars to come together in an academic environment—not so common in high school. Due to the success of this meeting, we are hoping to do more in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Thank you, Mentors!

January is Mentor Appreciation Month and today Schuler Scholars are celebrating their mentors and saying thanks!

Before Senior Scholars graduate from High School, they are each assigned a College Connections Coach, a mentor to help support them through their transition to college. Through events like the Mentor Brunch and Amazing Race, Scholars and their mentors have opportunities to connect over the summer before going off to college.

Here is what some of our Scholars had to say about their mentors:

Carolyn and her mentor Lindsay.
"I want to thank Lindsay for all of her time, especially the long talks about Econ 101 and how she could relate to the pressure of the class. I also want to thank her for her dedication to staying in touch even when my cell broke. Simply just want to thank you for being the person to vent to when my schedule got crazy and also being the person to applaud me when things went well. P.S. Thanks for the goody box, my mentor is the best!" - Carolyn Coulter, Kalamazoo College '20, Collins Academy '16

"My mentor is Mary and she is amazing! She has been a resource with my post-graduate plans (medical school) and my transition to college - it means so much to me to have a resource in the medical field. I am glad I can ask her about her undergraduate path and how it may differ from mine. She also sends me cute care packages for every holiday (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc). I could not have asked for a better mentor and I appreciate her and her family’s endless kindness!" Chloe Ortega, Lafayette College '19, Warren Township High School '15

"The phone calls [my mentor and I] shared at the beginning of the first semester really helped me mentally since I really don’t like to brag and it was the only space which required talking about self-accomplishments. Thank you for boosting my ego!" Alexander Olvera, Wesleyan University '20, North Chicago Community High School '16

"My mentor, Supriya, has helped me with my transition to college. She has told me about her own experiences at college, which has helped me better manage my time and become more involved. Whenever she calls me I tell her about any struggles I'm facing and she gives me advice on how to get out of them and how to better prepare for future ones. A cool fact about Supriya is that she has traveled to Peru and seen the Machu Picchu." Riya Parikh, Gettysburg College '20, Maine East High School '16

Kerr and his mentor Ronnie.
"I was surprised at the seemingly seamless relationship my mentor and I have had. One of my initial fears prior to receiving a mentor was that this system simply masked itself as a check up made informal through the use of outside mentors. However, to my relief my relationship with my mentor turned out to be a great one, and I had a passing familiarity with him before. Schuler managed to make a really good match in my case, but I was relieved and overjoyed that the mentor I received genuinely cared about me, my well being, and my transition to college, showcased by our distinctive long discussions as well as common realizations that we have drifted slightly off topic due to our wish to connect at a deeper level." Kerr Patrick Braza, Colgate University '20, Warren Township High School '16

"Having a mentor is like having a cheerleader/advisor/coach. I was surprised to find how helpful it was to have a supportive mentor and how often I sought her help. The best part of having a mentor is enjoying another friend, who is guiding and influencing me on my path to success as a first generation student. My mentor played a big role in my transition to college, whether it was asking a simple question like what should I bring to college? Or asking a more complicated question like should I continue to pursue this major or minor? A cool fact about my mentor is she has lived in four different continents." Jessica Ilc, Macalester College '19, Maine East High School '15

"The conversations I had with my mentor were helpful for me to truly reflect and think about how my college transition has been going. It gave me a good 30 minutes or so to just sit and talk with someone about my college experience, and I think it was a good way to debrief and see where I was doing well but also some aspects where I wanted to improve." - Han Ju Seo, Washington University in St. Louis '20, Warren Township High School '16

"I did not know what to expect when I knew I was going to have a mentor. Then, I found out my mentor was going to be my previous Scholar Coach, Ellen! Right away, I felt comfortable sharing my concerns, stories, and adventures with her. It surprised me when Ellen offered to come to campus so that we could have coffee. I realized I am very lucky to have my mentor so close to me, geographically. I appreciate the fact that Ellen checks up on me and I can catch her up on things through text/phone calls. I find myself reaching out to her in my most stressful moments and seeking her advice. As a first-generation college student, having someone who has gone through the experience at the same college as me makes me feel at ease." Cristina Martin, Macalester College '20, Collins Academy '16

Mentors and Scholars at the Mentor Brunch 2016.
"The long-lasting relationship that formed between my mentor and I was definitely the biggest surprise. I am almost half way done with my undergraduate career and my mentor and I still keep in contact. We have met for dinner in the past and continue to communicate to this day, and I am so incredibly grateful. I've enjoyed my conversations with my mentor more than anything. Life moves so quickly that it's easy to forget all the good things that occur over time. Our conversations have served as a way of slowing down and remembering the good things that get lost along the way." Anissa Garza, Bates College '19, Cristo Rey St. Martin '15

"I met Susie in the year 2009 almost 7 years ago! Thank you Susie for keeping in contact and proving advice when I ask for it. I am very happy to have gained not only a mentor but a friend throughout these years." Yarisamar Cortez, Bates College '17, Highland Park High School '13

I appreciate having Erin as my College Connections Coach because I can trust her opinion and we have built a strong relationship. What has surprised me about having a mentor is how similar we both are. Besides having a similar interest in business, we both like to travel, live in a different state from our family, and love dogs. What I have enjoyed most about having a mentor is hearing a familiar voice when I am at college. I can ask for a second opinion from Erin and I know she will sincerely tell me the truth. Furthermore, Erin has helped me transition into college by telling me her first-year experience and what she would have done differently. I listened to her and instantly joined clubs once I arrived on campus. I instantly felt integrated into the community and made a lot of friends. Overall, my mentor has been like a second parent and friend who has helped me transition into college." Evelyn Torres, Lycoming College '20, Round Lake High School '16

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love Yourself!

North Chicago Scholars, Jada Kilpatrick ’19, Neisy Rodriguez ’20 and Anahi Alcoser Bravo ’19 are currently reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. They are interested in feminist issues that impact women. Body image is an important topic that affects women and young girls. In Gay’s essay, Reaching for Catharsis she addresses her personal experience with body image and the ways she did not feel comfortable in her own skin. In order to address the negative and unrealistic body expectations placed on women, they created a list of ways to love yourself! Check their lists below. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Making the Mural: Art and Community at Round Lake High School

By Lyanne Santana, RLHS Scholar Coach

“People may perceive the mural as simply a tree with a bunch of books at the bottom with a sunset as the background, but it is so much more than that.” 
–Esmeralda Mendoza ‘17

From September to January, Round Lake Scholars have been working together to create a mural that brings life to our new resource room. I directed this project as a part of Artists After Hours, RLHS’s Schuler-run after school art program. Over the course of 10 sessions, thirteen Scholars conceptualized, designed, and painted a mural to decorate the new resource room. The mural features the silhouette of a Schuler tree against a sunrise gradient, with two figures representing Scholars using the tree as a support. Beneath the tree are books ranging in topics that are important to the development of a Scholar, such as REP, camp, and APB. We used a mixture of materials for the piece including latex wall paint and primer, acrylic paint (including a glow in the dark color for the stars), glitter, and chalkboard paint for the tree and the figures. The result is a vibrant and interactive art piece that will last.
While the final result reflects Schuler Scholars and provides opportunity for lasting engagement, the process itself was a display of the strength of this Schuler community. As the leader of this project and program, I am very proud of how they have grown as artistic collaborators. It was an incredible opportunity to support Scholars in implementing a vision that makes the resource room their own and invites others to continue creating. Read on to hear from the artists and take a peek at our process.

Scholar Reflections:

“Originally, I was incredibly hesitant to even get close to the mural in fear of messing it up (I am not as artistically inclined as the others helping out), but wow! The sessions were incredibly fun, the environment really relaxed and so despite my inability I was able to make a contribution and feel a part of the project. That alone I believe is the idea of the mural, that sort of togetherness and community that the Schuler Program maintains and so it is definitely a huge addition to the environment.” -Nadia McPherson '19

“The process of painting the mural went really smooth it was very relaxing and fun. I personally enjoyed it and I think that all the scholars did great overall and the final result was amazing." — Daisy Alcantar ‘20

“The whole process of painting the mural was fun overall even though we face a couple of obstacles. Something we tripped over was blending the right colors to paint the sunrise gradient. When we first began making it we placed the primary colors and blended a lot to mix the colors but that didn't work because it dried too quickly. We found a solution to it eventually, a really great one, which was to paint the main colors and then mix colors using different proportions in between them and blend. I really enjoyed painting the mural because we all worked together and had fun, destressed ourselves, which is great. If given the chance I'll totally do it again, who knows maybe someday we can make one in the other Schuler room.” — Danny Sanchez ‘19

 “I enjoyed the process, especially because with time, more people showed up to help with the mural. Only a few of us were present for the brainstorming process, and it was interesting to see what everyone came up with. The best thing was that at the end, we all had to collaborate in order to synthesize these ideas. So, the end result is really special, because it preserves the collaborative effort of Schuler Scholars. I think that by having this mural it will embody the spirit of the Scholars.” — Emily Luna ‘19

“During the making of the mural I wasn't really a part of it until the painting started, but that goes to show how the Schuler community helps each other out. Certain people created the design and then others added on to it to make it as great as it can be.” — Ashley Rodriguez ‘20

Mural Making Process:

Priming the wall

First attempt at blending the gradient

Laying out the background

After a long painting session

After successfully blending the gradient


Nadia having fun painting the chalkboard tree

Working on the details

Final product!