Category Archives: Dreamer Classroom

Summer school open house

Summer school came to a close on Friday, with an open house for parents, mentors and community members. We even had a member of the media stop by!

The Dreamers shared poster presentations of their nonfiction projects, which were a lesson not only in the topic they chose to study, but also in time management and meeting deadlines. It was important for all of the projects to be done in time for the presentation. Topics ranged from alternative energy creation to careers in fashion and beauty to babysitting tips to marine biology and how to fix cleft palates. Our students have an eclectic range of interests!

Among the Dreamers, the most anticipated element of the open house was the chess tournament, which culminated in a championship game.

Everyone circled up around Warvae and Jaleel, the final contenders. The room was shockingly silent as the boys battled it out, and then erupted into hoots and hollers when Jaleel was named victor.

He got to take home his own chess set as a prize!

Summer school capped off with a pulled pork lunch for students and our visitors, and for the 20 who completed the attendance requirement, a trip to Adventureland.

Read more about Dreamer Summer School on our blog.

Read more about chess club on our blog.

See many more photos from the poster presentations and chess on our Flickr stream.

A huge thanks to Wells Fargo for a grant that helps us produce summer school, and to our friends at ABC 5 and Bankers Trust for the “One Classroom at a Time” grant that we’re using to make this session possible.

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CultureAll workshop informs and inspires

His Nigerian name is 26 letters long, meaning “Every day you live, you always remember the good things people do.” Here in Des Moines, he is known as  Eric Idehen, and respected as a business leader who rose through the ranks from Dahls dishwasher to a Vice President at Wells Fargo Financial.
Dressed in traditional garments, Eric joined our Dreamer students for a morning CultureAll workshop during which he shared his homeland’s culture and his personal story of success in the United States. Son of a school headmaster and teacher and native of Benin City, Nigeria, Eric lived in Spain and the Ukraine before moving to Des Moines and working his way up. Along with interesting information about his home country, Eric dispensed inspiring wisdom:
“The one thing that can go with you everywhere in life, that nothing can take from you is your education,” he said. “The only person who can make you not successful is you.”
Poverty and hardship are relative, he explained, sharing the stories of orphans who live at the Cornerstone of Hope Orphanage he helped found. Hard work, respect for elders and people of other cultures and a mindset dedicated to giving back are fundamental for success.
Our Dreamer parents might want to adopt this Nigerian custom for their own homes!
Special thanks to ABC 5 and Banker’s Trust for the “One Classroom at a Time” grant that made this summer school workshop by CultureAll possible.

Noe the Nigerian prince

See more photos from the CultureAll presentation and other enrichment activities on our Flickr Page.

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How to Make a Dog Visor

How to Make a Dog/Puppy Visor for Kids

This crafting post is by Laila, a Dreamer who participated in our blogging enrichment session during Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation summer school. This assignment was to create a How-To post that we could put on Pinterest! The Dreamers have been making and selling items to benefit the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary as part of their Dreamers, Do! service group.

1.     You will need these items to make your visor:

·      A foam visor (In the color of your choosing.)

·      2 pieces of foam (Also your choosing for the color.)

·      A pair of scissors

·      A hot glue gun

·      A pen or permanent marker

·      Two googley eyes

·      A heart or circle template

·      Any colorful scraps of foam that may be lying about

·      A colored pom-pom (used as nose)

2.    First you trace your heart/circle template with your pen/permanent marker. This will be the muzzle.

3.    Next you cut out the shape using your scissors. Be careful to get your fingers too close to the blade. If you have a heart tracer cut the pointed part off after cutting out the whole shape.

4.    Now you will take your pen/permanent marker and draw the shape you want for your ears on your other piece of foam. Draw fairly close to the edge to make the next part easier.

5.    Then you will fold your piece in half so that the to ends of the foam are lined up.

6.    Now cut through both layers of foam while staying on your outline.

7.    Now you’re able to draw on some decorative patterns so your ears will look fun and unique.

8.    Now that you’re done cutting you can take your hot glue gun and glue your muzzle, ears, nose, and eyes onto your visor.

9.    After letting your dog dry you can cut out some accessories like a bow, a tongue, or even rosy cheeks. Then you will glue those on with hot glue gun as well.

10.  Finally, once everything dries, you can wear your new dog visor for everyone to see.

Here’s another version, with floppy ears and half a heart as a muzzle template:

Jazzy’s dog hat project


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Rookies with rooks: Dreamer chess club begins

In order for our Dreamers to be successful, they need to learn to think strategically about how the choices they’re making today will impact their futures.

Academic coordinator Kristi Dusenbery, who is a master of finding fun ways to slip important life lessons into the classroom, came up with a great way to work on these skills during summer school: Dreamer Chess Club.

All of our summer school participants are learning the rules of the game and playing together and with volunteers from the community. The game appeals to the Dreamers’ competitive spirits and the strategy helps them grow mentally. The benefits of learning and practicing chess abound!

Many thanks to our volunteers who stopped in to play with the Dreamer students. If you’re interested in helping us for an hour during summer school, it’s easy to sign up to play!

Interested in volunteering? There are still more days in June you can join us! Just sign up here.

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Summer School Smarts

Our first week of Dreamer Summer School is underway, and our students haven’t missed a beat!

Barely out the door after sixth grade, they’re showing up bright and early to work in math centers, and are honing communication skills through a research-based poster project.

Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Sarah, is jumping right in with the kids!

We’re also working with them to start blogging, on publishing digital Storybird books and learning how to use Microsoft Publisher as well as making a video for future classes of incoming 6th graders on how to survive the transition to Middle School.

All before lunch!

A huge thanks to Wells Fargo for a grant that helps us produce summer school, and to our friends at ABC 5 and Bankers Trust for the “One Classroom at a Time” grant that we’re using to make this session possible.

Together, we are doing our part to prevent the “summer slide”  — a huge contributor to the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers. (This “How to Beat Summer Learning Loss” post by Edutopia has some great information about how to come together to combat this phenomenon.)

Want to get involved?

We’re still looking for some chess club volunteers!

Join us for our end of summer school cookout and poster presentation open house! It will be held June 29, 2012 at Callanan Middle School.

Donate to help us complete funding for our summer school program.

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Calling Des Moines chess players!

The Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation is always looking for creative ways to help prepare our students for success in college and careers.

This year, as part of the summer school experience, we’re hoping to form a chess club! Chess promotes critical thinking, concentration, problem solving and discipline — all skills our soon-to-be 7th graders must master.

Know chess? We’re seeking volunteer players to join our students in the classroom for an hour at a time during our summer school session.We are also seeking donations of chess/checker boards for the classroom.

Dates/times we would need volunteer chess players:

Friday, June 8th   9:45-10:30 AM

Tuesday, June 12th  9:45-10:30 AM

Thursday, June 14th  9:45-10:30 AM

Monday, June 18th  10-10:30 AM

Thursday, June 21th  10-10:30 AM

Monday, June 25th  10-10:30 AM

Thursday, June 28th  10-10:30 AM

If you are  interested in helping introduce middle school students to the game, let us know!

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A surprise for summer school

Last week, ABC 5 — along with sponsors Bankers Trust and Prairie Meadows — awarded IHAD a $1,000 grant to help pay for our summer school programming. The award also comes with a workshop from our friends at CultureAll.

It was a Publishers Clearing House type moment when Rachel Pierce arrived at school to present the check:

Surprise! IHAD received a $1,000 grant for summer school!

Watch this fantastic video of the ABC 5 “One Classroom at a Time” award presentation to learn more about how we’re helping students achieve their dreams:

Kamia answers interview questions like a pro

THANK YOU “One Classroom at a Time” Sponsors!

We're excited to host summer school for Dreamers at Callanan Middle School this year!

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Our board is awesome

Last night, the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation Board of Directors met in the Callanan Middle School Classroom that our Dreamers use as a “home base” during the school day. Principal Calaway talked about the relationship the IHAD program has with the public school, and Kristi gave the board a tour of all of the elements of the room that contribute to our students’ success.

IHAD academic coordinator Kristi Dusenbery explains some of the challenges middle school students are facing.

It was great for the Board to sit in the same seats our Dreamers use during the day and get a different perspective on how the organization operates.

There's no better place to connect with our mission than in the Dreamer classroom.

We value their enthusiasm, professionalism and efforts to make our organization a success!

The IHAD board listens to challenges our middle school students face.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation, our Board members are great contacts in the community.

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Earning and Learning

Our Dreamers have already received a great gift: the promise of a college education. The Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation (IHAD) promise also involves continued support — making sure our students have the skills they need to grow into responsible adults.

IHAD starts financial literacy lessons early.

Financial literacy is an important component of success, so Ms. Dusenbery created a system that would teach students about saving an spending habits and reward them for doing their job: being on time, behaving appropriately in class, attending our enrichment activities, getting good grades and going above and beyond to help their classmates.

Our Dreamers love looking in their ledgers to see how much they’ve earned.

We call this our “Commission System.” Each student has a ledger full of faux checks that our IHAD classroom staff writes in amounts that correspond to attendance, behavior, grade data, etc. The Dreamers must balance their checkbooks each week. Just like in the real world, they can earn interest on “money” they save, and are penalized for overdrawing on their accounts.

Twice a week, they have the opportunity to purchase instant gratification  items like snacks, or they can save up for bigger things like sports hats or a new backpack and even experiences, like trips to see a movie with a mentor or staff member. Our Dreamers are quickly learning how to manage money. As they grow older, we’re envisioning the Commission System to evolve to help pay the fees for the sports teams and extracurricular activities our Dreamers want to participate in, but couldn’t otherwise afford.

If you’d like to donate an item or gift card to IHAD to offer through the commission system, please contact the IHAD program staff.

Looking for financial literacy resources? Iowa College Aid offers programs for various age levels.

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Meet Ms. Dusenbery, our Academic Coordinator

In the fall of 2009, IHAD hired Kristi Dusenbery as a full-time teacher to work with the Dreamers to make sure they’re on track in classes. Dreamers head to Ms. Dusenbery’s room, where she conducts small group study sessions, offers tutoring and tracks student progress by working collaboratively with their other grade-level teachers.

Kristi Dusenbery

Education: B.A., University of Northern Iowa

Why did you choose to teach for IHAD? I was intrigued by the idea of working with the same students from year-to-year. Building secure, meaningful, and long-term relationships with students is a privilege that simply isn’t realistic in most academic settings, and I see the benefits of it daily.
How is your job at IHAD different from or similar to your previous positions? For nearly 16 years, I chose to stay home fulltime with our three sons. Having experienced the joys and challenges of parenting children through elementary school, middle school, and high school — and being familiar with the emotional (and academic) highs and lows parents and children/teenagers deal with – has provided invaluable experience for my current role with the Dreamers. Prior to entering the teaching field, I did quite a bit of freelance writing, including the ghostwriting of two books that were published. My passion for writing definitely impacts my work with the Dreamers, because I believe there is great power in the written word and great potential for those who learn to express themselves through writing.

What is your favorite part of your job? The element of the job that keeps me going on difficult days is having productive and honest relationships with the kids. I love laughing with them, sharing their hurts, celebrating their joys and helping them to discover the great potential that lies within.

Interests/fun facts: I earned my first college degree at the age of 40 (it’s never too late!) I love watching college football. I love quirky, thought-provoking, and motivational quotes. My husband and I have been married 23 years and have three sons — two who currently serve in the U.S. Air Force and one who is a junior in high school.

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