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07 Nov

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iEducate Celebrates its 3rd Anniversary

November 7, 2016 | By |

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iEducate celebrated its 3rd anniversary on November 4th at the Asia Society with over 100 guests that included our team members, educators, public officials and industry partners. Special guests included Congressman Al Green, City Controller Chris Brown, the Consular Corps from Costa Rica and India, Retired HISD Superintendent Dr. Billy Reagan, State Education Policy Advisor Ben Bhatti, ProUnitas CEO Adeep Barqawi, and Houston Director of Education Juliet Stipeche. Schlumberger VP of Industry & Gov’t Affairs Dan Domeracki was the keynote speaker, and renewed Schlumberger’s commitment to iEducate to provide support in expanding beyond Houston.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-1-18-34-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-1-04-53-pmCongressman Al Green congratulated iEducate on its commitment to improving the quality of life for youth through mentorship and STEM educational programs. He spent time addressing the students on how valuable their contribution was and thanked them for the difference they are making. Finally, he presented a certificate of special congressional recognition to iEducate in honor of the service to the community.

Dr. Roopa Gir introduced the team members and partners and talked about the iEducate vision. The highlight of the evening was what followed: heartfelt remarks by iEducate tutors who shared their life-changing experiences in the elementary school classrooms. A huge thanks to Jameel Jordan, Kayla Montejo, Donald Bici, Sarah Stockman and HISD Student Congress Speaker Jessica DeBoe for captivating us all by sharing their experiences.

Thank you to Anne Chao and Asheet Yagnik (who sponsored the event at the Asia Society), and the many sponsors including Schlumberger, Infodat, IACF, Just Energy, Munshi CPA and individual contributors Sanjay Rao and Dr. Dominic Sreshta.

31 Oct

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An Interview with Veteran Tutor Donald Bici

October 31, 2016 | By |

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Donald Bici, a current senior studying Petroleum Engineering at The University of Houston, sat down with Rachana Wood, Director of Professional Development, to discuss his time as an iEducate tutor.

Rachana: Thank you, Donald, for being a part of iEducate and sharing your experience. Tell us, how did you first hear about iEducate?

Donald: Thank you Ms. Wood! Well, It was my sophomore year in college and I really was looking to
try something other than engineering internships at the time. I searched the UH career services portal for other opportunities out there and that’s how I came across iEducate – now I’ve been an iEducate tutor for 3 years!

Rachana: What made you decide you wanted to work with iEducateUSA?

Donald: At first I was a little hesitant about the job, just because I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I was immediately drawn to the passion iEducate has towards the betterment of the children’s lives, it’s highly commendable. As the weeks passed, the amount of support I got from the elementary school teachers and iEducate is truly what made me continue being a part of the organization. As an immigrant, I understand what these kids are going through, they need some guidance and a mentor, just to get them on the right track.

Rachana: That’s wonderful! How has iEducate impacted you, and what’s your take away from it?

Donald: I’ve seen students who I work with go from not caring about school, to completely changing their demeanor to being hard-working students. It has made me realize how much of an influence we (college students) can be for these elementary school students. Some don’t have that figure to look up to, it’s like we give them that extra drive to work hard and they can get to the same place we are. As for something to take away, it’s given me a lot of patience, teaching is not as easy as people think!
Also, the professional development initiative at iEducate has provided me so much guidance towards my job search, resume building, interview skills that I feel I’m better prepared for the task. The mentoring has definitely made me more confident about my job search.

Rachana: Would you say your time with iEducate has made an impact?

Donald: Absolutely, I think what iEducate is doing is not only a great concept, it actually works! The student passing rates in math and science before versus after iEducate came to schools says it all. I just think what iEducate has done, and is currently doing is great for the education system, specifically STEM which the United States is generally lacking in. I enjoy making a difference in these students’ lives, just as I would’ve liked mentors do to me when I was in elementary school.

Rachana: Those are some great thoughts, Donald. Thank you again for your time, and for your commitment to the iEducate program. All the best with your upcoming interviews!

01 Oct

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Expanding our Horizons

October 1, 2016 | By |

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The iEducate team along with several members of the 2016-2017 tutor class

After the transformative results at Crockett and Braeburn Elementary schools, Blackshear Elementary successfully launched the iEducate program in Fall 2015. Beginning in Fall 2016, iEducate added an additional 6 HISD elementary schools (Sherman, Elrod, Kennedy, Kashmere Gardens, Scroggins and MacGregor) and has grown the team to over 80 new tutors!As a result of the increased demand for the program, iEducate has formed recruiting partnerships with engineering departments of major universities in the city. Some of the participating universities include Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Houston Community College, University of St. Thomas and the honors society Phi Theta Kappa. Faculty at these universities facilitate the recruiting process by actively promoting the iEducate program to their students, and by identifying & recommending high-achieving STEM-major students.

To keep up with the rapid expansion, iEducate has also grown its recruiting team. Audrey Buth, Process Engineer at LCY Elastomers, joined the recruiting team over the summer. Ms. Buth brings in years of experience in the oil & gas industry and is a Management graduate from the C.T. Bauer College of Business. She also holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Houston. Another addition to the team was Premanjali Lahiri, a Manufacturing Manager at Celltex Therapeutics Corporation. Ms. Lahiri is a proud Aggie and has a master’s degree in Biotechnology.

With its strong partnerships and dedicated recruiting & operations team, iEducate is gearing towards exponential growth over the next few years. “The iEducate program now reaches over 1,500 students per year, with plans to hit 3,500 by 2017,” said Dr. Roopa Gir, President of iEducateUSA.

12 Sep

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Empowering iEducate Tutors through Professional Development

September 12, 2016 | By |

 

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-1-50-27-pmThere are four pillars to the iEducate program: Tutoring, Mentoring, Summer Enrichment and Professional Development. While the first three are focused on the elementary school students, the fourth is geared towards the college student tutors. The primary focus of the Professional Development pillar is to prepare iEducate tutors for success as they embark on their own careers. This value proposition offers tutors a unique opportunity to meet individually with seasoned HR professionals across various industries who not only help review their resumes and cover letters but also provide them with guidance on job search and interview skills. In several cases, the first resume a tutor had prepared was for iEducate.

 

The professional development pillar is led by Rachana Wood, HR Manager at Shell Oil. Rachana brings in years of valuable experience in human resources and strategic guidance to all the iEducate tutors. Rachana emphasizes the importance of this initiative and said in a statement: “The primary aim of the professional development of our tutors is to help them bring out their accomplishments in a way that enables them to confidently present themselves to future employers”.

 

iEducate tutors are provided opportunities for leadership development through workshops and seminars. In the 2015-2016 school year, 25 tutors received over 30 hours of professional development and the opportunity to attend 2 seminars, one focused on ‘building their brand and market value’ (led by Karthik Rajan, mentor & advisor to social entrepreneurs) and the other on ‘team building and leadership’. In addition, 3 tutors who are studying Petroleum Engineering obtained summer internships in their field of study – which is highly commendable given the tough market environment in the O&G business.

 

Rachana is growing the professional development team to provide every tutor with a mentor in an industry pertaining to their major, and has already expanded the team to include Ryan Arnold, a project manager at Houston Methodist, and Natasha Bajaj, a financial analyst at DistributionNOW. If you are interested in joining the iEducate professional development team and lending your career advice to our college student tutors, please reach out to Rachana at rachana@iEducateUSA.org.

01 Jul

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iEducate Expands Summer Enrichment to More Elementary Schools

July 1, 2016 | By |

iEducate held its 3-Day Explore! Science Workshop at Crockett, Blackshear, Sherman and Eliot Elementary schools from May 31 through June 2, 2016. The science workshop was an all-volunteer effort in collaboration with employees of Schlumberger, NASA, and Baylor College of Medicine. The program was designed around providing an exposure and enriching experience in science to the 3rd – 5th grade students of under-served elementary schools. The program was led by STEM-focused college and high school student volunteers, who carried out in-class lectures and activities on various topics designed to instill excitement around the earth, physical and life sciences (such as making a DNA replica using gummy bears and Twizzlers, or designing an electronic circuit from scratch).

On June 2nd, the workshop concluded at each school with an award ceremony for the participating students and their parents, during which the students led presentations about what they had learned over the three days.

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iEducate also expanded its 3-week Bridge summer camp beyond Crockett Elementary this year to include Blackshear Elementary. The Bridge camp was also an all-volunteer initiative directed towards bridging the curriculum gap between grade levels, and keeping the students academically engaged throughout the summer, a time which otherwise would have been unproductive. The program was led by over 30 college student master teachers and over 100 high school volunteers who handled a classroom teaching environment with a mix of 3rd – 5th graders in small groups, providing a personalized learning experience to each elementary school student.

The Explore! Science Workshop and Bridge Summer Camp are integral parts of iEducate, which extend the program’s mentorship throughout the year and ensure that all students have the opportunity to expand their interests in math & science regardless of their economic status. Over 250 HISD students participated in this year’s summer programs!

14 Jul

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Summer Camp Volunteer Jeevan Kaur Recounts Her Experience

July 14, 2015 | By |

My experience as a volunteer at the iEducateUSA Bridge Camp was what one could call eventful. Interacting with elementary students kept me alert, their intricate needs were something to look out for.

On June 8th, I began my 3-week volunteer journey at Crockett Elementary. I was placed with the rising third graders, alongside 6 other volunteers. That day I alongside the volunteers became acquainted with the classroom procedures and the students we would be assisting for the next three weeks.

After that day I officially began my work as a volunteer. I spent the hours of 8 am -11am making sure the rising third graders were completing their classwork and also seeing if they understood the subject taught each morning (which would be math or science depending on the day). This also included giving students one-on-one assistance when requested.

The mornings were hectic, yet weren’t comparable to the afternoon. After lunch, the full-bellied volunteers and I would trudge back to the school, get into our classes, and wait for the oncoming storm of energetic children who marked the second part of the day. It was a workout making sure the students didn’t stray from their work and didn’t lure the volunteers into small-talk with them (something the kids are very good at!).

Although it was tiring at times, I would never trade the experience. The lives I helped, the understanding I received, and the respect for teachers I gained was invaluable. Students are harder to teach when there are so many of them in one class. A sole teacher cannot meet the needs of every student in his or her classroom when there are over 25 students in one classroom! The teacher usually needs to assist the ones who need the most help, and this at times causes others to have lower understanding of a subject. Alongside this, there are students who need a different types of explanations to gain knowledge of things.

iEducateUSA provided teachers the help they need by allowing us, the volunteers, to give them an extra hand in the classroom. Not only that, iEducateUSA gave volunteers like me a better understanding of patience and skills that will not be forgotten, skills such as listening, thinking of problems in more than one way, team work, and many others. Apart from these skills they learned the value of life and impacted the lives of the children they worked with, giving the students aspirations, role models, and determination, which is needed in a child’s life as they grow up.
In the end, I found my time at iEducateUSA to be meaningful, and when asked if I would volunteer next year, I happily said yes. Now all is left is to wait till I get to see the students again.

– Jeevandeep Kaur

05 May

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Students at Crockett Share their Thoughts

May 5, 2015 | By |

Carmen Johnson teaches fifth grade math at Crockett Elementary School, and has worked alongside iEducateUSA Fellows since the program’s inception. She recently asked her students to write anonymous letters to students at a prospective school, letters that she says “open our eyes to the childrens’ perspective of how great the iEDU program truly is”. These letters are displayed below.

The iEducateUSA Fellows take good students and make them into great students. Students at the beginning of the year who had little faith in their math abilities are now convinced that they can be successful, because the Fellows encourage them to think and reason. Every student has grown academically from their relationships with the Fellows, a relationship of trust where the students look up to these college undergraduates as role models. They recognize that it takes hard work to learn so they study harder and persevere.

I wish that this program could be replicated for every elementary campus.

-Carmen Johnson,
Math Teacher, Crockett Elementary School

25 Apr

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Expansion Plans & Partnerships in Higher Education Spark Addition of Future Fellows

April 25, 2015 | By |

iEducateUSA’s greatest asset is its team of dedicated tutors (known as ‘Fellows’ here at iEDU) who work tirelessly alongside elementary school teachers to instill a love of math and science in students at HISD schools. These college undergraduates serve as role models and mentors for the students, encouraging them in their study of STEM subjects and in many cases developing long-term relationships that have a huge impact on the students’ academic careers. As part of our expansion to Braeburn Elementary this past fall, we have added an additional 12 Fellows to our team.

Recruiting the young people to work as Fellows with iEducateUSA can be a challenge when competing against academic calendars, extracurricular activities, and all that the great city of Houston has to offer. Therefore over the past two years, we have developed strong relationships with some of the best Houston-area colleges to ensure that we have a strong group of Fellows working with us – both now and in the future. It is thanks to the efforts of some of our partners in higher education that we manage to secure some of the brightest Fellows around. A very special thanks to our Recruitment Partners:

  • Poonam Gulati – Associate Professor of Biology and Honors Program Coordinator at UHD
  • Rupa Iyer – Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at UH
  • Christine Ehlig-Economides – UH’s William C. Miller Endowed Chair Professor ofPetroleum Engineering.

Today, most our tutors come from University of Houston Downtown, University of Houston, and Houston Community College. We are also excited to start actively recruiting from Rice University and Texas Christian University for the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year. Here’s to the start of new partnerships and the addition of great future Fellows! Read more about our current iEDU Fellows here.

20 Apr

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Braeburn Joins iEducateUSA as Newest School for 2014-2015 Academic Year

April 20, 2015 | By |

Braeburn Elementary School joined iEducateUSA as the second HISD school in its pilot program in September 2014. Braeburn educates more than 900 students in Southwest Houston with a “shared mission to do ‘whatever it takes’ to meet the needs of all their students.” The school currently has 99.6% economically disadvantaged students.

For several years before iEducateUSA’s involvement, Braeburn worked with Teach for America to place high-achieving college graduates in its classrooms as teachers. Despite their best efforts, however, they struggled to produce positive results on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests – a key exam whose results are used to measure students’ progress in key areas. In 2014, only 24% of Braeburn’s 4th graders and only 15% of its 5th graders received passing grades in Math; only 19% of 5th graders passed Science.

The school’s commitment to improving its students’ education and futures made Braeburn the perfect candidate for iEducateUSA’s program. Our goal of improving math and science education is perfectly aligned with the school’s self-assessed need to improve STEM performance, and we hoped that our tutors (known as ‘Fellows’) would be the catalyst that Braeburn was looking for.

Since the program began, iEducateUSA has successfully placed Fellows in six 4th and 5th grade math and science classes at Braeburn, reaching more than 200 students in total. By supporting the teachers and providing math and science tutoring within the classroom environment, iEDU has effectively lowered the student-teacher ratio to 11:1, and we expect many resulting improvements.

After promising snapshot tests showed science passing rates up to as much as 80%, iEDU hopes to see significant improvements in Math and Science results at Braeburn over the 2014-2015 school year. STAAR testing is currently underway, with results being announced before the summer. Join us in our support of the teachers, administrators and Fellows who are working tirelessly to improve the quality of STEM education at Braeburn Elementary School – iEducateUSA’s most recent success story!

17 Apr

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Crockett Jumps from 28th to 76th Percentile Among Texas Elementary Schools

April 17, 2015 | By |

Crockett STAAR GraphiEducateUSA launched its pilot at Crockett Elementary School in Fall 2013, serving only the 5th grade with four tutors (Fellows). In the following spring, four more Fellows were added to 4th grade science & math classes. Additionally, iEDU began hosting its summer workshops on topics such as life sciences, energy and space. In 2012, Crockett was ranked in the 28th percentile among all Texas elementary schools. Furthermore, both the 4th grade and 5th grade STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) passing rates in math were at 65%.

“iEducateUSA has not only been a pillar to support the math & science curriculum at Crockett, but also a bridge to extend and increase the students’ learning.”

-Claudia Chavez, Principal, Crockett Elementary School

Under the iEducateUSA program, Crockett has soared from the 28th to 76th percentile among Texas elementary schools, beating the state average in science and math scores by almost 10%. The 4th & 5th grade STAAR passing rates have increased by 10% in science and by almost 30% in math, with a third of the 5th grade students performing at an advanced level (grade A and above). Additionally, Crockett admitted the highest number of kids (8) from a single HISD school were to the Baylor STEM Middle School. These accomplishments are notable given that Crockett has always been a fine arts-focused school, and that it has outperformed peer schools (with similar demographics) that it was once trailing ever since adopting the iEDU program.