LYFE is currently hosting Open Houses throughout the five boroughs at all LYFE sites. Each Thursday, LYFE sites open their doors to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to explore the high-quality early childhood education and advocacy services provided. With all LYFE staff contributing to outreach and engagement, the staff has hit the ground running, working diligently to engage communities and creating crucial partnerships with agencies that can strengthen LYFE services!
Check out some staff highlights below-
LYFE social workers Zamyra Abdel-Hady, Iris Rodriguez, Shakelia Foga, Darie Martin, Melissa Mora, Sherell Parker-Marks and Elezza Arce were present at Family Welcome Centers in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn during the peak enrollment season, September 3rd-15th, 2017. For many potential student parents who want to re-engage in school, the Family Welcome Center is their first stop.The partnership with LYFE and the Family Welcome Centers is pivotal in connecting potential student parents to LYFE services. Each day social workers assisted Family Welcome Center staff and supported families with inquiries about services. While the peak enrollment season for Family Welcome Centers is also peak enrollment times for LYFE Social Workers, they were able to balance between LYFE sites and Family Welcome Centers. Their commitment to building upon the connection between LYFE and the Family Welcome Centers to engage potential student parents, while still providing advocacy support at their LYFE site is commendable. The Social Workers exemplify how LYFE creates A Supportive Environment!
Congratulation to the LYFE team at Franklin K. Lane! Franklin K. Lane has had a utilization rate of 81% and an attendance rate of 86%! Franklin K. Lane’s outreach efforts to student parents, families and agencies to support enrollment and attendance at the site has been successful. The team at Franklin K. Lane has passionately demonstrated Relentlessness!
LYFE educational paraprofessional Desiree Viera has gone above and beyond to build partnerships between LYFE and the Urban Family Center and Why Not Care. A dedicated volunteer in her personal time, Desiree seized the opportunity to discuss the LYFE program and connect LYFE Administration with key contacts at each agency. Desiree’s outreach enhances the reach of LYFE services and provides a partnership between services that can support LYFE families fostering Strengths-Based Programming!
While most LYFE sites are busy enrolling new children for the 2017-2018 school year, LYFE at Bronx Regional High School 1st floor obtained 100% enrollment, thanks to the outstanding engagement efforts of LYFE social workers Jodi Kaltner, and LYFE family worker Carmen Batista. Led by teacher Yvellise Sanchez and educational paraprofessionals Christine Abraham, Shirley Rivera, and Mary Elhakem all LYFE children have been exposed to rich language and engaging activities that have extended their learning. The team at Bronx Regional High School 1st floor provide a great example of Planning for Success!
…and all of the hard work produced in LYFE is for the successful outcomes of LYFE families. Take a look at these happy faces during LYFE Family Day!
Don’t forget to check LYFE’s Twitter page and Facebook page to learn more about LYFE’s first days of school, LYFE Family Day and Dad’s Take Your Child to School!
Chancellor’s Conference Day
On Thursday, June 8th Chancellor’s Conference Day, over 200 LYFE staff members came together for Professional Development.The motivational day began with Dr. Timothy Lisante, District 79 Superintendent delivering words of inspiration to all staff. LYFE Principal Dr. Kara Ahmed presented the 1st LYFE Partnership Award to Dr. Kelly Celony, Director of Training and Special Initiatives from the Department of Health and Mental Health, Office of School Health Adolescent Unit. Dr. Celony has provided training sessions for Teacher’s, Social Workers and LYFE families. In addition, thanks to Dr. Celony’s advocacy for LYFE, incentives, & other rewarding opportunities have been afforded to LYFE families. Following the award presentation, LYFE staff and partners viewed the documentary on trauma-informed education, titled “Paper Tigers”. After the emotional and influential documentary, LYFE sites staff members came together for team building activities. So many LYFE staff members described the day as motivating, exhilarating, inspiring, hopeful, and determined. It was a galvanizing day to a very successful year in LYFE!
District 79 Superintendent Recognition Ceremony
The District 79 Superintendent Recognition Ceremony was held Friday evening at DC 37’s auditorium. Students from the various D79 programs were awarded for their accomplishments in academic achievement to job-readiness skills. 7 LYFE student parent graduates were honored for their academic and career successes.
The Spirit Award was presented to Marianela Familia from LYFE @ Aspirations.
The Workforce Achievement Award was presented to Fatoumata Keita from LYFE @ William Howard Taft.
The Workforce Achievement Award was presented to Natalie Rodriguez from LYFE @ Bronx Regional.
The Leadership Award was presented to Katty DeJesus Mateo from LYFE @ South Bronx.
The Advancement Award was presented to Allison Barrionuevo from LYFE @ LIC.
The ceremony also acknowledges District 79 staff with the Rookie of the Year awards. LYFE Social Worker Jennifer Schwam received the honor for the 2016-2017 school year. Jennifer is a dynamic social worker whose dedication and commitment to LYFE families is highly
LYFE Social Workers, Program Coordinator, Assistant Principals, and Principal were in attendance to support the ceremony and LYFE award winners. The evening was filled with proud student parents, their families, and staff!
Grandparent/Guardian Recognition Celebration
LYFE hosted the first LYFE Grandparent/Guardian Recognition Celebration on Thursday, June 22, 2017!
The evening dinner honored Grandparent/Guardians who have consistently attended the LYFE Grandparent/Guardian groups since it’s launch in December 2015. There were over 20 family members in attendance, along with LYFE Principal Dr. Kara Ahmed, Assistant Principal James Williams, Program Coordinator Nyesha Greene, LYFE Social Workers who have been facilitating these sessions for families, Diane Whitaker, Sherell Parker-Marks, Susan Farrell-Laplante, Xaxia Sanchez, and LYFE teacher Yvelisse Severino, who supported group translations at and engagement at the DeWitt Clinton group.
With tears and smiles, each grandparent and guardian were presented with a LYFE Grandparent/Guardian recognition award presented by social workers. The evening brought together a diverse population of families in which LYFE serves, provided an opportunity for LYFE to say thank you to the many families that partner with staff to support student parents and their children, and validated the LYFE mission of making an intergenerational impact! Check out more pictures on LYFE’s twitter page >
LYFE celebrated over 100 student parent graduates and 18 students who will transition to UPK in September 2017 during the 2017 LYFE Recognition Ceremony, held on Tuesday, May 23rd at Columbia University’s Roone Arledge Auditorium. During the ceremony, LYFE recognized LYFE Legacy Award winner’s Sanchez family, LYFE Inspiration Award winner Jamel Davis and LYFE Academic Achievement Award winner Xavier Roberson. LYFE also presented the LYFE Staff Excellence Award to LYFE Social Worker Jodi Kaltner and LYFE Teacher Jacqueline Leong-Range. With over 200 guests in attendance, the ceremony was filled with celebratory smiles and an evening filled with food, dancing and LYFE pride! Watch the LYFE Recognition Award winners video or see more photos on Facebook >
The New York City Children’s Cabinet hosted their 3rd Baby Shower at P.S. 56 in Brooklyn on Saturday, May 6th. LYFE Social Worker’s Sharlina Goveia, Sherell Parker-Marks, and LYFE Program Coordinator Nyesha Greene provided information about LYFE services to over 200 attendees. The First Lady of New York Chirlane McCray once again treated children to “Love Is” and greeted guests. See more photos on Facebook >
May 31st, District 79 hosted their Arts Showcase at the Queens Museum of Art, showcasing District 79’s talented artists. Each District 79 program presented fascinating artwork around the theme “Freedom & Struggle”. LYFE @ Harlem Renaissance H.S., Bronx Regional H.S., and HillCrest H.S. presented artwork created by their imaginative 3 and 4-year-olds. Read all about the amazing event on Twitter >
A Day on Broadway
LYFE celebrated LYFE sites with a 20%-30% increase in yearly cumulative attendance with a day on Broadway! LYFE @ Jeffrey Tenzer E.C., Julia Richman E.C., Franklin K. Lane E.C., City As School, Edward R. Reynolds West Side H.S., Long Island City H.S., James Monroe E.C., Pathways To Graduation Downtown Brooklyn, HS for Environmental Studies and Bushwick E.C. student parents danced and sang to Beautiful, The Carole King Musical. Student parents expressed their excitement and gratitude for the experience of attending a Broadway play. See more photos on Facebook >
The New York City Children’s Cabinet hosted their 2nd Baby Shower at the New York Hall of Science on Saturday, April 22nd. LYFE Social Worker Naomi Dechouden and LYFE Program Coordinator Nyesha Greene, along with several other support service agencies were in attendance to provide information to the Queens community. The First Lady of New York Chirlane McCray spent the day greeting guests and reading “Love Is” to children in attendance. It was a day filled with resources and fun for pregnant and parenting families! Check out this story on Facebook >
LYFE Featured on Chalkbeat
The LYFE Program was highlighted on Chalkbeat, an educational news organization that focuses on improvements in schools for those who are underserved. Chalkbeat’s article places a spotlight on the intergenerational impact that LYFE is committed to making. Read about LYFE student parent Janiellah and her family’s experience in the LYFE Program! >
Social Worker Appreciation Month
March is Social Worker Appreciation month. LYFE sites showered LYFE Social Workers with many surprises from students and student parents. Creative cards and gift baskets were given to social workers on behalf of the LYFE families they serve daily. Check out the smiles as LYFE celebrated Social Worker Appreciation month. Check out the highlights on Twitter >
Parent Conferences were a complete success at LYFE. Student Parents and their families met with LYFE teachers, social workers, and educational paraprofessionals to discuss their child’s academic and social-emotional development. Families were treated to artwork and pictures to highlight the productive and engaging environment in LYFE that fosters creativity! Over 300 LYFE family members attended March Parent Conferences!
LYFE Celebrated Spirit Week! Spirit Week fosters an engaging environment between LYFE staff and LYFE families. Each day has a fun-filled theme- Monday’s Culture Day, Tuesday’s Twin Day, Wednesday’s Wacky Tacky Day, Thursday’s Throwback Day and Friday’s LYFE Day. Check out the fun on Twitter >
The New York City Children’s Cabinet hosted their first Baby Shower for 2017 at Monsignr Scanlan High School in the Bronx. LYFE, along with 24 other city agencies, provided information and resources to support expectant and new parents from the Bronx community. LYFE Principal Dr. Kara Ahmed, LYFE Assistant Principal Mr. James Williams, LYFE Social Workers Jodi Kaltner and Susan Farrell-Laplante and LYFE @ DeWitt Clinton High School Teacher Yvelisse Severino were in attendance and had the opportunity to meet with New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray. See more photos on Facebook >
100th Day of School
February 17th marked the 100th day of school! The LYFE Program celebrated with creative and fun art activities with LYFE families. Check out the 100 days of school celebration on the LYFE Facebook page >
In the spirit of February, Grandparent/Guardian groups held at LYFE were all about self-care! Harlem Renaissance grandparents were treated to self-care gifts which included a journal, inspirational necklaces, gift card and of course chocolate!
Great work is done daily by LYFE staff on behalf of LYFE families. While most of it happens in the classroom, lots also happen outside of it. LYFE acknowledges the hard work and contributions made by LYFE staff –
Ann Topper, LYFE Educational Paraprofessional at Julia Richman, refuses to keep a little known resource to herself. Ann has been sharing information about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Federal Aide Program (PSLF), a student loan forgiveness program for individuals who work for a qualifying employer. Ann, who never leaves home without a PBLF application, distributes information to LYFE families, LYFE staff, and any one in need of loan forgiveness support. There is no stopping Ann! Thanks to Ann’s collaborative spirit, students within and outside of the LYFE program, parents/guardians, colleagues, and countless others have gaininsight to a resource that will open the door to obtaining their post secondary degree. Anna, LYFE
Jodi Kaltner, LYFE Social Worker and Georgette Lopez-Rosario, LYFE Teacher at Jane Addams HS, coordinated an escorted trip to COOP Tech for two potential LYFE student parents on January 27th. During the scheduled tour the student father and student mother had an opportunity to visit the Building Maintenance, Cosmetology and Graphic Design programs. “Spending a day at COOP Tech gotus thinking about our future” shared the student parents. Jodi and Georgette, what an awesome way to enhance the students’ ability to identify potential careers goals and exemplifying Planning for Success!
Susan Farrell-Laplant, LYFE social worker at DeWitt Clinton HS played a vital role in helping a LYFE grandparent find employment at Bronxwood Home Health Care Agency. The LYFE grandparent, who recently immigrated to New York from Honduras, informed Susan that she had recently received her working papers in December. Finding it difficult to find employment, Susan and the Grandparent searched online and discovered Bronxwood Home Health Care Agency was in the process of training and hiring individuals for Home Health Aid services. Susan contacted the recruitment manager and obtained an interview date for the LYFEgrandparent. The recruitment manager was so impressed by Susan’s advocacy, that Susan was given the honor to share the happy news of the interview appointment via a conference call with the LYFE grandparent and recruitment manager! A few weeks later, theLYFE grandparent was hired by the Bronxwood Home Health Care Agency and since then has moved her family into a larger apartment. Susan, in regards to supporting families and removing all barriers, we salute you for your Relentlessness!
Multicultural Holiday Celebrations
LYFE was in the holiday spirit as sites hosted Multicultural Holiday Celebrations. Festive feasts and gifts provided by partnering agencies such as books and pajamas, New York City School Safety, New York cares and others. Check out the festive month on LYFE’s Twitter.
Take a look at what happened at LYFE in November:
Fall Festivals (October 31st – November 30th)
LYFE transformed sites into an atmosphere that celebrated Fall themes, holidays, and celebrations.
Check out how Fall looks on LYFE’s Facebook page!
Each year, Green Meadows Farm turns LYFE classrooms into a real-life petting farm!. Student parents and their children engaged with furry, slithery and feathery animals such as a chinchilla, a female toad, a Madagascar cockroach and more! Infants and toddlers were excited to learn about their new friends and turned out be more braver than many student parents, who were too scared to touch the animals!!
Parent Conferences were held on November 17th and November 18th. Over 500 students, student parents and family members attended Parent Conferences at LYFE. Parent Conferences provide LYFE student moms and dads, as well as their extended family members, the opportunity to obtain individual updates about their child’s progress, as well as their own. LYFE families at Springfield Educational Campus, Telecommunications and Paul Robeson High School had 100% attendance for their Parent Conferences. Borough-wide, Manhattan/Queens LYFE sites had the highest attendance for parent conferences!!
Paper Tigers Documentary
On Tuesday, November 1st , Bank Street College of Education hosted a special screening of the documentary Paper Tigers, which addresses trauma-informed education. Following the screening, a panel discussion facilitated by Troy Pinkney, Director of Child Life at Bank Street with LYFE’s Principal Dr. Kara Ahmed, alongside Karina P Diaz, LCAT, ATR Clinical supervisor At Bonding Links Mental Health Clinic at the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, Kimberly Noble, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, with a joint interdisciplinary appointment at the Sergievsky Center at Columbia, Wendi Williams Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street and Psychologist was held. LYFE’s Principal Dr. Ahmed contributed to the rich conversation discussing the innovative and empathetic ways LYFE supports student parents who have and are currently experiencing trauma.
“Paper Tigers was extremely impactful. There was not a dry eye in the room after viewing the documentary. This entire experience, from participating on a panel with esteemed professionals, to viewing such a powerful documentary, has been inspiring and speaks volumes about the critical work that LYFE does daily.” ~ Dr. Kara Ahmed
LYFE staff were in attendance to support LYFE’s contribution to the panel and had the following to express about the message they received from the inspiring night:
LYFE Social Worker Barbara Hirschman stated: “The movie really resonated with me, as I was able to identify and associate the connections made between the students and teachers in the movie. Since we (LYFE) are a small program, I am able to form those attachments and build strong connections with my (LYFE) families. The key word is relationships. Building relationships with students and student parents is what supports their long-term success. I was truly inspired by the documentary.”
LYFE Educational Paraprofessional Betty Passik shared the following: “I had an opportunity to attend the screening of “Paper Tigers,” followed by a panel discussion that included our principal Dr. Kara H. Ahmed on Nov. 1, 2016. It brought the reality of what some of our student parents struggle with in their daily live such as unhealthy relationships, financial hardships and so much more. I was able to gain a different perspective about my own interactions with our (LYFE) student parents. It gave me a deeper appreciation of how, as a team, we can make a difference in student parents lives.”
LYFE Social Worker Jennifer Schwam shared her reflections: “In watching the film I was struck by how similar the issues of LYFE student parents are to the students featured in the documentary. Despite the difference that our student parents are part of a large, urban school community and those in the film are part of a small, suburban, rural school community, the issues faced by the students have so much in common. By taking into account the adverse childhood experiences of the students in their program, social workers, teachers, and nurses in this alternative high school were able to work with the students successfully in a way that mirrors LYFE’s own core values, particularly the focus on working relentlessly to ensure students’ goals by removing barriers to success. Watching this film provided extra validation that the kind, committed, individualized and self-empowering approach utilized by LYFE is truly effective. Seeing this play out on the big screen was personally empowering and meaningful to me as a LYFE social worker.”
To see more photos from the panel discussion, visit LYFE’s Facebook page!
October was all about Hispanic Heritage Month and College Application Week in LYFE!
Hispanic Heritage Month
Among the many different celebrations across the program, student parents and their children at LYFE at Louis D. Brandeis celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by making cultural flags. Student’s hands were busy engaging in the arts as they created their native flag, while learning about the many cultures that make up the LYFE classroom thanks to LYFE Teacher Yvelisse Severino and the LYFE team at Brandeis!
LYFE toddler at Louis D. Brandeis High School discovering the different colors that are in a flag for Hispanic Heritage Month.
College Application Week
LYFE celebrated College Application Week October 17th – 21st. Senior student parents completed their college applications with LYFE social workers program-wide! LYFE student parents at Bronx Regional, Jane Addams, and DeWitt Clinton attended the 2016 college fair at SUNY Bronx Equal Opportunities Center with LYFE social workers Elijah Tax-Berman, Jodi Kaltner and Susan Farrell-Laplant. Student parents were connected with over 40 Colleges, Universities, and Equal Opportunity Programs which provided valuable resources for applying to higher education.
LYFE student parents Paola Pareja from Julia Richman Educational Campus and Zakia Taylor of Louis D. Brandeis are examples of the high achieving student parents enrolled in LYFE and evidence of the reasons why College Application Week is so important to support student success!
(left) LYFE Social Workers Jodi Kaltner and Elijah Tax-Berman with student parents from Jane Addams and Bronx Regional High Schools at the SUNY Bronx Equal Opportunities Center College Fair! (right) LYFE Social Worker Susan Farrell-Laplante with student parents from DeWitt Clinton High school at the SUNY Bronx Equal Opportunities Center College Fair!
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