STATEN ISLAND, NY – When the final bell of the day rings at Port Richmond High School every Wednesday, a dozen female students gather in a classroom to meet mentors, learn about leadership skills and practice public speaking.
And in just a few short weeks, these hard-working students will be delivering speeches to a wider audience.
This is part of the curriculum-focused program for young women that was created by the Staten Island chapter of the National Council of Black Women (NCNW). Earlier this year, NCNW-SI partnered with the high school to establish an Adopt-A-School program, which then evolved into the Youth Leadership Public Speaking-Mentoring program.
“The program is amazing,” said Andrew Greenfield, principal of Port Richmond High School. “After 18 months of social isolation, children need it. They need to learn the skills of interacting with other people, I cannot say enough – public speaking is perhaps one of the strongest and most important skills a teenager can acquire, as it goes. help them with job interviews, college interviews, and real-world preparation. And being surrounded by people who look like them, people who have been in their place, it’s beautiful.
More recently, Nicole Meyers, president of NCNW-SI, said the program received its first grant because Con Edison donated funds to support the program.
“We are really excited to support this program and the work you do to give yourself the skills you will need for the rest of your life… Public speaking and leadership skills will help you no matter what you do for the rest of your life. your life. lives, ”said Amanda Straniere, Staten Island Regional and Community Affairs Specialist at Con Edison.
The inaugural cohort began in September, with students participating in weekly sessions every Wednesday for almost 10 weeks to learn about the different types of speech, as well as leadership skills and more. At its peak, students make oral presentations using the public speaking skills they learned during the program.
On Wednesday, students gathered in a classroom for a late lunch and communicate with their peers, as well as NCNW-SI members and school staff, before the start of the session. The mission, which was created by members and students, is recited at the start and end of each session, Meyers said.
“The day is built on reflections,” she explained. “Like, ‘What have you learned, let’s talk about it’ and what will be taught that same day. Then it goes from there to – if there’s time to give examples, but most of the time they’ll start working on their speeches. And we’ll end with what they learned that day… and the expectations for next week.
Meyers said the students also made a connection outside of their weekly sessions, and she noticed that they help each other and provide feedback during speaking practice. And the students also formed special relationships with members of the NCNW-SI who served as mentors to the students. Mentors try to come to the sessions every week.
The mentoring initiative is aligned with Girl Talk and My Sister’s Keeper, efforts that were already in place at Port Richmond High School. As part of this initiative, NCNW-SI members and Port Richmond administrative leaders serve as mentors and pair with students based on their areas of interest.
“Each student is matched with a mentor,” said Meyers. “So each mentor is watching them throughout the week, asking them, ‘How’s it going, what’s going on, do you need help? “”
During Wednesday’s session, several students gave demonstrative speeches and received feedback – what NCNW-SI calls “for and grows” – from fellow students, members of NCNW-SI and staff at the School. ‘school. The process helps students understand their strengths during their speech, as well as ways they can improve.
After the keynote presentations on Wednesday, the session shifted to a youth leadership activity.
The activity introduced the students to a situation where they had to imagine that they were stranded at sea and could only carry five items on their lifeboat. What started out as an individual activity eventually spread to small groups.
At the end of the activity, the whole class of students and members of the NCNW-SI had to work together to decide which five items they would all take on their stranded lifeboat.
Celestine Cox, president of press and publicity at NCNW-SI, said the activity is an example of students able to communicate, interact and problem-solve with different generations.
Going forward, Meyers said the plan is to create a new cohort of students in the program in the spring. While the inaugural cohort numbered around a dozen students, the program could potentially serve 25 students. But first, NCNW-SI will assess the initiative, based on feedback, pre- and post-meeting meetings with partners, and other metrics to help make decisions on how to deploy subsequent cohorts.
One of the outcomes the organization has said it hopes to achieve is to instill confidence in young people throughout their educational and future career paths, Cox previously told Advance / SILive.com
“… Feeling confident and empowered, reaching out to diverse audiences and voicing their concerns about social issues, education, whatever they feel they need a voice to speak to,” she said. stated at the time. “I am truly delighted that NCNW has identified this as an important issue for our youth and that we are able to partner with Port Richmond High School which has a very diverse student body and a very diverse educational body as well. “
See additional photos of the program below.
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