Ramapo Times - Fall 2017
In this Issue:
• Ramapo Expands Reach to Baltimore’s Afterschool Programs
• Ramapo Offers Teens a Year-Round Program for Skill-Building and Fun
• Partner Spotlight: Principal Jerrod Mabry, Bronx NY
• Former Staff Assistant Continues Forging His Path to Success
• Summer 2018 – New & Expanded Camp Ramapo Activities
Ramapo Expands Reach to Baltimore’s Afterschool Programs
In recent years, Ramapo has proudly expanded our reach to more people and places across the country, and Baltimore is the latest city to benefit from the Ramapo Approach. Our involvement in Baltimore began in early 2015 when we were invited to be the technical assistance provider for the Maryland Disability Law Center’s Out-of-School-Time (OST) Inclusion Project. The goal of the OST Inclusion Project is to increase disability and racial equity awareness, and provide inclusion training, technical assistance and coaching to make OST programs more welcoming and effective for youth of all abilities. As a result of subsequent partnerships formed with Maryland Out-of-School-Time (MOST) and Baltimore’s Family League, today, Ramapo provides monthly workshops and coaching for staff at up to 20 OST agencies and community organizations across the city.
One organization benefiting from Ramapo’s professional development and coaching support is OrchKIDS, an initiative of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that provides music education, instruments, and meals at no cost to families at six Baltimore City schools. Most instructors there are trained musicians, yet few have classroom experience and many struggle with managing large groups of children of differing abilities. Taiwanna Lucienne, one of Ramapo’s three Baltimore-based trainers, recently facilitated a Promoting Positive Behavior workshop for all OrchKIDS instructors, introducing them to the Ramapo model. “The teachers at OrchKIDS are really dedicated to the work they are doing, but they don’t necessarily have the tools to engage young people who have challenging behaviors,” she said. After the workshop, many of the instructors reported that they had gained skills and strategies for building relationships with kids and making their OST classrooms more inclusive for all students.
Taiwanna, who has lived in Maryland for the past five years, is excited about Ramapo’s growing impact in the city. “Baltimore is a small city with a lot of needs,” she said. Issues such as poverty, trauma, substance abuse, racial inequity and police violence are magnified, but, she explained, “there are a lot of people here who are caring and supportive of empowering the community and its young people.” With our deepening presence in Baltimore, including facilitating over 100 engagements in 20 schools and agencies over the past year, Ramapo is grateful to be a part of this effort.
Ramapo Offers Teens a Year-Round Program for Skill-Building and Fun
Partner Spotlight: Principal Jerrod Mabry, Bronx NY
A major part of Ramapo’s approach has always been to equip school leaders with a set of tools and practices that can foster a culture based on mutual respect and accountability. We are now using our experience to help school leaders implement Restorative Justice initiatives across their communities. Our partner spotlight is on Jerrod Mabry, the Principal of Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. Jerrod has been involved with the school since its inception in 2003 and became the Principal in 2013. We sat down with Jerrod to learn more about Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, and Ramapo for Children’s work promoting restorative practices within the school.
How many students attend Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, and where is it located? Celia Cruz is in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and we serve 440 students.
When did you first hear about Ramapo for Children, and what did you hope to accomplish by working with us? I first heard about the organization when the city announced it wanted to focus more attention on school discipline reform and improving school climate. Ramapo was included among organizations that work with schools on these issues. I was particularly interested in learning how to bring a more restorative approach into the school overall, and I knew Ramapo specialized in this type of work.
What has Ramapo’s process been in your school? The partnership began with frequent meetings between me and our Ramapo trainer, Erin Dunlevy. We talked a lot about the school’s culture and environment, where improvement was needed, and how we could implement restorative justice work in our classrooms. Erin’s passion for this work is infectious and that really transferred into the restorative work itself, here at Celia Cruz. We’ve now been doing restorative circles with our staff for two semesters, and have started content circles in our classrooms, with students. Content circles provide opportunities for students to take a deeper look at the topics discussed in the classroom by sharing personal stories that can connect back to these topics. We also have an active Restorative Justice Action Team, which practices restorative processes and meets on a regular basis to debrief. Erin often joins these group meetings to provide additional support, and she and I continue to meet to discuss the school’s progress.
Have you noticed any improvements in your school’s climate? Yes, we’ve reduced our exclusionary discipline measures, like suspensions and removals, and we’re on the track towards making this restorative work more sustainable. I want to embed it into our school’s culture and make sure we continue this work for many years to come, so that we can create the best environments possible for our students and staff.
Former Staff Assistant Continues Forging His Path to Success
Max Rosenfeld, who participated in Ramapo for Children’s Staff Assistant experience from 2012-2015, is now proudly celebrating two years of independent living and personal success since graduating from the program.
Prior to coming to Ramapo for Children, Max spent four years attending three different colleges to pursue an education. Although he knew he wanted to complete his degree and enter the workforce, he was unprepared for the challenges of college, and his confidence quickly dwindled. After discovering the Staff Assistant Experience and all it had to offer to young people who faced similar obstacles, he knew it was the right place for him to build his skills and work ethic, and re-gain his confidence.
Since heading out on his own, Max has successfully held down two jobs, one in the food service department of Rhinebeck’s Ferncliff Nursing Home, and the other—his true passion—baking pastries and other sweet treats at Meredith’s Bread in Kingston, NY. He’s also incorporated into his active routine plenty of time for hobbies, like building impressive Lego structures in his downtown Rhinebeck home, and exercise, attending regular Yoga classes at a nearby gym. Although his routine keeps him busy, Max still makes time for adventures, the most recent being an indoor skydiving session with his sister and cousin for his birthday. “Before I settled into the SAE program, the idea of working two jobs terrified me,” explained Max. “Now, I know how to create more structure in my life, and I’m proud of what I can do.”
Although Max has come so far, there’s still so much more he wants to accomplish. Next on his list is attending the Culinary Institute of America for a baking certification, and we can’t wait to cheer him on in this new chapter of his life!
Summer 2018 – New & Expanded Camp Ramapo Activities
Knowing that many campers and their families count down the weeks until summer sessions begin, Camp Ramapo’s staff is already hard at work to enhance the programs we will offer in 2018. Some examples of what to expect include an increased focus on STEM activities, an expanded performing arts program, and much more!
The new STEM offerings will fuse science, engineering and technology into a variety of activities, such as Lego robotics and coding. The arts program will grow to further combine dance and theater, culminating in exciting group performances.
“Camp Ramapo has the most incredible and diverse camper population I’ve ever worked with,” said Campus Programming Director, Lydia Smith. “With this in mind, our staff recognizes how important it is to provide a range of activities, so that every single child can participate in things they truly enjoy and take pride in, while cheering each other on.”
Camp Ramapo’s 2018 sessions begin June 24 and run through August 25, 2018, and pre-scheduled tour dates are available Saturdays and Sundays throughout March, April, May, and June 3. Tours are also available by appointment.
To learn more about Camp Ramapo or to schedule a tour, please call 845.876.8403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Ramapo's Communications team at email@example.com or 646.588.2310 for any media-related inquiries.