Wednesday, November 20, 2013
We have moved our website over to www.toltoncenter.org and would love to have you join us over there! This blog will remain live while we work on moving our archives over to the new website, but for the most current Tolton Center info, please see us at www.toltoncenter.org
Monday, May 13, 2013
Two Tolton Staff members recently attended a training hosted by HandsOn Tech Chicago and conducted by Let's Dabble. The training showed how with any camera (including a camera phone or even an iPad, which is what we used) and editing software that comes pre-installed on computers (we used iMovie), you could make a video to tell a story. So after the training, we brainstormed a bit and approached one of our students with an idea. She agreed to it and we got to filming.
Far too many hours of editing later, this is the story we'd like to tell.
Margarita and Jesus came to Tolton's Family Literacy Program at Casa Juan Diego back in September of last year. This year has been full of learning together, playing together and best of all, achieving their dreams together.
We are so proud of Margarita and Jesus and their accomplishments this year. We are honored to have worked with them this year and to have the opportunity to share their story with all of you.
We cannot give enough thanks to HandsOn Tech Chicago and Let's Dabble. Anthony over at Let's Dabble answered so many of our technical questions during the editing process. So thank you thank you to both of you!
(Music in video: "Swansong (Instrumental)" by Josh Woodward)
Monday, May 6, 2013
I know that each year, when May rolls around we marvel at how the year has escaped us! Like every other year, we just cannot believe that we are wrapping up another school year and getting ready to send our students out, armed with knowledge, confidence and a strong support system.
This post is from a bit ago but I wanted to share it because it touches on something that is so important to us here at Tolton Center: celebrating our rich histories and legacies.
Pamela Clemons, coordinator at our Bee Branch site, submitted this reflection on her students' time of studying the legacy of African-Americans:
During the month of February the Tolton Center located at the Chicago Bee Branch Library had a month-long opportunity to really delve into the rich legacy of those African-Americans who have played a vital role in shaping not only America but the entire world. Students read about some of the following famous African-Americans via insightful biographies: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Matthew Henson, Benjamin Banneker, Mary McLeod Bethune, W.C. Handy, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Willie Mays, Wilma Rudolph, Daniel Hale Williams, and last but not least Jean Baptiste Du Sable. Not only did students get to meet these famous trailblazers in the fields of medicine, education science, civil rights, law, music, and sports, they were also able to discuss the impact of having learned about these powerful African-Americans. Many students even shared highlights from channel 11 and the BET cable network channel. Both featured wonderful programming during African-American history month. Some students commented that they watched “Roots” for the first time with their children or other powerful documentaries during this special month.
Fifteen students and five staff visited the Du Sable Museum of African–American History on Thursday, February 28, 2013. It was a perfect way to end this month.
This field trip was absolutely wonderful! We didn’t have a tour guide but students and staff were able to enjoy the excellent exhibits on our own. Even one of our students, Emmanuel, who is from Ghana, was more than willing to talk about his homeland. The exhibit “Africa Speaks” was intriguing because Emmnauel made looking at the sculptures, masks, artifacts, and textiles from West Africa come alive.
According to the students, the most memorable exhibits were the exhibit “A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story”, Geoffrey & Carmen: A Memoir in Four Movements, and the carved wooden mural of events from slavery to emancipation. In short, this field trip proved to be a valuable history lesson that many students will not forget.
Thank you so much to Pam for taking the time to share their experiences with all of us!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I don't often identify myself here on ToltonCenter.com but my name is Emily Arvizu and I am the voice behind this blog (as well as our Facebook page and our Twitter account). Generally, I write about our experiences at Tolton in the 1st person plural, as "we." As in: "We love taking field trips!" and "We're excited for this training!" and "We thank you!". But today, I wanted to share something from me, personally.
I came to Tolton Center seven years ago as part of a volunteer organization called Mission Year. I had graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and Latin American Studies and wanted to do something different for a year before returning to the East Coast to put that degree to use. So I came out to Chicago and bumped into Tolton Center at Legler Library. I began volunteering about thirty hours a week and soon fell in love. With the students. With the positive atmosphere. But most of all, with the staff.
When I finished my year-long volunteer program, I faced a decision: to stay on with Tolton Center or to return home to the life I had planned to live as an elementary teacher.
I remember talking on the phone with my mom one night. As we talked, I realized my decision had already been made. I told her, "Mom, what 22 year old has a job that they truly, truly love?" And with that, I stayed.
Seven years later, I'm still in Chicago. I stay for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the work I do at Tolton. I still love my students. I still love the positive atmosphere. And above all, I still love this staff.
In the years that I've been here, I have had the absolute privilege of working alongside Mary Ellen Lesniak. With her guidance, her patience, and her incredible passion I have become a good teacher. From her, I have learned the importance of a student-centered classroom built upon a foundation of community. A classroom where the students speak far more than the teacher. Where everyone supports each other. Where students walk to class together and leave together as well. Where barriers to education are addressed and human needs are met. A classroom where "Everyone teaches and everyone learns."
Mary Ellen has continually taught me that an excellent leader leads by example and that an excellent leader always says "Thank you." While this account is my own personal experience, I know that my other co-workers would agree, that Mary Ellen is their biggest fan and best source of support. She sees something in each of us and encourages that in us until we begin to see it ourselves. When I was only 22 years old, fresh out of college with no idea what I was doing, she saw something in me and mentored me into the teacher I am now.
It is no surprise to me at all that Mary Ellen was selected as Toyota's Runner-up Teacher of the Year. The way I feel as Mary Ellen's co-worker is the very same way students feel in her classroom: Welcomed. Appreciated. Supported. And cared for. Mary Ellen has devoted so much time and energy to her work at Tolton Center and I am so pleased to see her being recognized. Mary Ellen will tell you that it is not she who is being recognized, it is the program. But it is Mary Ellen, and so many other dedicated staff members, who have made this program what it is.
So I hope you will join me in congratulating Mary Ellen for this incredible award. I hope you'll thank her for her hard work and I hope you'll give her a hug when you see her next.
I'd love for anyone to leave a comment here and tell us your favorite Mary Ellen stories. Or perhaps leave a comment on our Facebook page to congratulate her! (To do so, click here!)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for supporting Tolton's work!
Monday, April 29, 2013
Last Thursday evening, Tolton staff, friends and supporters gathered at Bee Home and Garden in Oak Park for an evening of wine and shopping. Throughout the evening, shoppers sipped wine, chatted with friends and perused the unique and beautiful merchandise available.
Bee Home and Garden, located at 128 Chicago Ave in Oak Park, offers a wide variety of home goods and gardening essentials. Within the store, shoppers find anything from pillows to placemats, custom upholstered furniture to stationery, soaps to scarves. Tolton supporters shared how excited they were to discover a store with such beautiful items.
Similarly, Tolton staff were happy to introduce our friends and supporters to this wonderful, local business with a social mission. Taken from Bee Home and Garden's Facebook page, "Founded by Colleen Moroney Maia, this L3C aspires to do more. Driven by our social mission, we have teamed up with this local high school to help provide job and enrichment opportunities for first generation college bound students. We hope to wake the entrepreneurial spirit in a young girl's heart and set her up for success in the next step of her education."
Thank you once again to everyone who came out to Bee Home and Garden to support our work! And a huge thank you to Colleen for hosting us in her beautiful store!
If you were unable to attend but would like to make a donation to Tolton Center, you may do so by clicking here.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Hello and happy Wednesday! We have been a bit quiet around here on the blog, but outside of blogland we have been keeping very busy: teaching classes, writing grants, visiting libraries, engaging our kids in activities, reading together, attending professional development trainings and conferences, and, of course, going on field trips!
This morning we wanted to share with you our Tolton Center/ Legler program's recent trip to the Chicago History Museum. Instructor Joanne Corwin graciously took some time to write about their visit and send some photos to share with all of you.
Here's what Joanne had to say about their trip:
Students and staff from the Tolton Adult Education Center at the Legler Library enjoyed an informative and inspirational field trip to the Chicago History Museum on North Clark St. on Thursday, Feb. 20th. Exhibits on the tour included the history of Chicago in the areas of politics, architecture, communication, economics, theatre, transportation, Chicago jazz and blues, the Chicago Fire, the mercantile industries, and ethnic groups and their contributions. Many students participated in hands-on displays with technology and visual aids to enhance their experience. They, also, read many wonderful stories that helped make Chicago the great American city we love and enjoy today.
Joanne sent us some absolutely wonderful photos of students enjoying the day and learning together:
|Marietta Milton pedaling strong on an old-fashioned bike!|
|Willie Pearl Richardson with a statue of Ida B. Wells at the train station, in the early days of African-Americans who helped shape Chicago history.|
|Musically inclined students at the speakeasy!|
For more photos of this fantastic field trip, please visit our Facebook page and be sure to click "Like" to receive Tolton updates on Facebook!