Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A bittersweet farewell...

Hello, again Brashear bloggers! It is me, Ms. Arielle, your Education Coordinator at ALEC. 

I'm writing today to share some bittersweet news with our community. Several weeks ago, I received an exciting opportunity to pursue a position in Chicago. After much thought and consideration, I have decided to take on this new adventure. In October, I will be starting as a Research Associate at the American Institutes for Research. Here, I will be helping out with research and data, and I will be specifically focused on learning more about after school programs! It is my hope that I can use this work to further advocate for the importance and prevalence of after school programs in neighborhoods like ours across the country. 

With this being said, of course, comes the bitter news. I will be hanging up my hat as the Education Coordinator for the Brashear Kids After School Program. I am incredibly heartbroken to be leaving my favorite kiddos, but I know that ALEC is in the amazing hands of Ms. Dianna, our long time Site Coordinator, and Mr. Donte and Ms. Nesha, our new AmeriCorps teachers. I am departing from the Center, knowing that these three will do a spectacular job in running our after school program and continuing to provide these amazing opportunities for our youth. 

While at ALEC, I have learned so much more than I ever could have  imagined. 

From the Allentown Neighborhood, I have learned the value in taking pride and ownership of your community. 

From the Brashear Staff, I've learned about communication and leadership. 

And finally, from the kids, I have learned countless lessons in a variety of formats. I've learned to be silly, to be fun, to not take life or things to seriously, to really go with the flow and take it one step at a time, and most importantly, to take it slow. These kids have shown me the value in stopping to smell the roses, to admire the skyline, and just to chit-chat about our feelings. They have shown me love and compassion, and trust, and for them, I am forever thankful. For me, good-byes are always hard. They are the hardest, however, when they are bidding adieu to little ones, who are bright, kind, and so so capable, with the whole world in front of them. 

I have had such an incredible year at the Center, and I can't imagine having spent my year in Pittsburgh any better. Good luck this year, Brashear! I will always be thinking of you! 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Coming soon!!!

We're so excited to get ALEC's after school program up and started! This year on October 7th we've got a lot in store for this school year. Amongst them are lots of exciting active opportunities with the Y, Venture Outdoors also some very new tasty Cooking Lessons, and new Project Hand. This school year is going to be great stay tunned!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Janesha Ware AmeriCorps Teacher

Hey, My name is Ja'Nesha Ware I'm a new Americorps teacher at ALEC, I've always wanted to be involved in early childhood development and community outreach. When I was in elementray I was in a program where we would host events for the community like movie nights, pizza nights, talent shows, and fashions shows. We also tutored our fellow classmates during free periods and taught the younger youth about fire safety. I've been at AmeriCorps for a year now but I was always familiar with the ins and outs of the program because I was a youth at Braddock Youth Project, one of the sites AmeriCorps works with. Once I aged out of the program I had no doubts I'd be joining to become an AmeriCorps teacher. Over these past few years, I've realized my love for teaching and mentoring. I really think this year at Alec will help me further my goals of becoming a teacher and I'm excited to show what I can bring to The Brashears Kids!

New AmeriCorps Teacher: An introduction

Hi, I'm Donte! As a new Brashears Kids after school teacher I am excited to get the school year started! I hope to bring a variety of creative assets to the team and hope to gain a lot myself. This will be my third term serving as an Americorps member and I'm eager to see what's next. I recently graduated college with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts for Visual Effects and Animation, and would love to bring that experience to the team! I also have an extensive background working in this field with youth of all ages in varying programs from Baseball and Cheer-leading camps to Culinary and Academics camps. Some of my hobbies and interests include animations, films, gaming, drawing, writing, photography, and almost anything involving the use of creativity and the arts!

A few things about me, I love to have fun and I love to laugh! While it is important to me that there is a good structural flow to a working environment, I find it imperative that there is also a level of comfortability with each other where no individual needs to feel unwelcome or left out. Therefore, I try my best to be friendly and I strive to be as inclusive as possible. I look forward to my year here at Brashears and I just know it'll be great!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Not 'Goodbye' but 'See You Later'

Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place that challenged your comfort zone and gave you the opportunity to nurture, grow, teach, and even learn?

If not, I highly recommend a journey that challenges those very things. I found mine two years ago. When I joined AmeriCorps, I had the opportunity to serve the youth of ALEC and their families. Due to the staff, youth, and parents being so welcoming, it was easy to jump into other partnerships and volunteer around the neighborhood which allowed me to get to know many local residents. I was admittedly nervous to work with elementary and future middle school students, but, it isn't in my nature to let challenges intimidate me. There was laughing, loudness, frustration, hugs, glitter, art, super heroes, snacks, Spanish lessons, and more importantly, I was blessed to serve a great group of kids and welcomed into a passionate and motivated community that I care for very deeply. 

While I'm sad to be leaving ALEC, I am happy to let you know it's for a great reason! I will be continuing my work at A+ Schools with their TeenBloc program! I hope to keep a relationship with the team at ALEC and volunteer for programming when time allows me to do so.

Here is a short summary of what I contributed to ALEC:

Besides teaching art and emotional intelligence, one of my other passions is herbology. It was so much fun teaching the kids about herbs and their medicinal benefits as well as their many kitchen uses. The students had the opportunity to choose an herb to study as well as plant, grow, and take them home to harvest. 


We also had an intro course to physics involving viscosity, pressure, and the different elements of liquids and solids. What better way to introduce those concepts than making oobleck for our Thursday Science Lab days?

Our Saturday Drop-In days are always a blast, it gives everyone some time to loosen up and have fun...and it can't hurt to learn and have fun, right?? Students not only got to make some awesome crafts they also learned about natural minerals, their uses and how to use what's around us to transform it into something of their interests. Check out some these awesome crystals and wands (inspired by everyone's love of Harry Potter) the Brashear Kids made! 

This year, we had our debut neighborhood event for Project HAND (Helping Allentown Neighbors Dream). Project HAND was born last year with the teamwork of AmeriCorps staff. While we started small with creating an anti-littering campaign, this time we decided to put our $2,500 Remake Learning Grant to use. We decided to purchase large street trash cans for our Hilltop neighbors and were successfully able to provide over 50 homes with trash cans. This was my first planned event for more than a handful of people, I am really grateful for such a supportive staff and community. We couldn't have Project HAND if it weren't for our youth, families, and neighbors. 

The event included a painting party, custom printed t-shirts (designed by a certain six-foot tall lady with colorful hair and lots of tattoos *cough* no hint there *cough*). It was a great way to meet more neighbors and introduce them to our youth-lead initiative to give our Brashear Kids a chance to use their voices and how to make an impact. I'm so happy to have been able to help foster this legacy project and leave something for anyone that walks through ALEC's doorway to contribute to as well. 

I want to thank ALEC from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to professionally develop towards my goals in my own way, as well as the families that have been so welcoming to me and most importantly, the Brashear Kids. Thank you for challenging me, thank you for allowing me to serve you and bring out your talents and your voices, just as you have brought out mine.

See you later, Allentown <3 
Miss Christa 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Third and Final Rounds of Summer Camp - Art and Gardening!

Wow, we can't believe how fast this summer flew by! First Venture Outdoors, then Y-Creator Space and now Art and Gardening! Ms. Maggie was gracious to return another year to help our students learn some technical skills to further their fine art education however they'd like, and if anyone is interested in specializing in art, they made some great portfolio pieces for a visual arts education.

A R T  C A M P 

We began the first week learning about value, the importance of line weight, as well as perspective. We even ventured to Grandview Park to practice drawing "en plein air" (in open air). The students had a great start and we were so proud of how brave everyone was to learn something new and difficult. 

G A R D E N I N G  C A M P

The next week our talented campers used their finely tuned value and perspective skills to create still life drawings as well as a self portrait. Drawing from direct observation using perspective, value, texture and composition was greatly emphasized and everyone faced their challenges and anxieties and created some great work, we are super proud of our Brashear Kids! 

Our final camp was gardening camp. We had an excellent journey through soil quality, components, and learning the minerals that make soil as well the difference between healthy/unhealthy soil and how our worm friends are very important to our gardens.
students examining the contents of their soil samples

American Water was awesome to come in and teach us about the water cycle, watersheds, and how pollution can impact our water quality and why it's important to take care of the water that we have.  

The students were also able to decorate their own planters as well as plant some herbs, which is a great extension of the lesson we began at the end of the school year with herbs and their many uses.  

We also had a nice visit from Saturday Light Brigade radio's Mr. Tad come in to interview the students about there herb planters. It was a great continuation of the Spring lesson we had with herbs and their many uses, we are happy to continue educating our students and ourselves about natural and quick remedies for common ailments. 

What an exciting and fun-filled summer! We hope to see everyone (and some new faces) next year!

If you're interested in our after school program and have youth ages 7-11 living around the hilltop, stop by and see us for an application. Our programs are free to our students and families!

See you all soon! 

The ALEC Team

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Second Round of ALEC Summer Camp Series: Tech Camp with the Y-Creator Space

Students create mini-terrariums for research
Mr. Dave planting some soil for a terrarium 
Most summers, a lot of people don't expect to learn about planetary environments, chemistry, or willfully learn about engineering and the social responsibility we have to our own planet, we are! For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the Y-Creator Space is a free program based on STEM-based curriculum that serves youth in the Pittsburgh area in after school and summer programs. The Y-Creator space facilitates lessons that develop determination, creative thinking, problem-solving skills and collaboration through projects that are based within the realm of 3D printing, robotics, graphic design, circuitry, engineering, and so much more!

Test simulation for a built moon colonies
Our Summer Brashear Kids had the unique opportunity to learn about space, the environments of different planets, as well as human exploration of unknown territories. They also learned about crystals, minerals, engineering, and robotics. We even learned a few things ourselves! 

If you would like to learn more about Y-Creator Space, check out their website!


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