Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meet the Pearson Prize National Fellows

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The Pearson Prize is a student leadership award that recognizes and provides support to exemplary students who are distinguishing themselves by leading public service efforts in their local communities. This post is part of a series of blog entries highlighting Pearson Prize National Fellows. Recently, we asked Northwestern student Timi Chu, a Pearson Prize National Fellow for 2011, what issues or initiatives she is passionate about and how she has acted on her passion.



Timi , what issues and initiatives are you passionate about and how have you acted on your passion?

I am passionate about promoting early childhood literacy by empowering college students with the ability to ensure that every child in future generations enters school prepared to succeed.
In January 2011, I founded Book Buddies at the Evanston Public Library. My goal was to bring individual reading opportunities to school-age children in the Evanston (Illinois) area while engaging students from Northwestern University with the enjoyment of sharing the gift of literacy. Having worked with a similar program back at home prior to college, I worked with the children's librarian here to develop a successful program that would fill the gaps between already-existing children's programs. I also partnered with the Northwestern Jumpstart program, through which I was a Corps Member. After advertising both in the library and in nearby elementary schools, our first session proved to be very successful. The library staff, parents, volunteers and, most importantly, the children welcomed Book Buddies into their Friday afternoons with open arms.


Every session begins with a couple of lively songs and a story led by the children's librarian. We then pair the children with their Book Buddies for about half an hour of one-on-one reading and attention. Pairing the children up presents them with the opportunity to receive their volunteer's undivided attention, a rare phenomenon in the working parent world. All volunteers are enthusiastic Northwestern students, who are trained on effectively engaging children while reading, suggesting level-appropriate books, giving children the appropriate level of decision-making and providing positive reinforcement in performing tasks.


The session concludes with a quick recap of books that everyone read, a discussion about the weekly theme and a fun craft related to the theme. In the six months that Book Buddies has operated, I have received numerous thank-yous and questions about when we will be starting up again in the fall; this comes not only from parents and children, but from the volunteers as well. It really makes my day to see college students reading with young children and teaching them how to color within the lines or how to hold scissors correctly.

Many students go through their undergraduate years slaving away over textbooks and never seeing the light of day. In addition to enriching the lives of the children who return every week, I hope that the volunteers who join us also gain a sense of comfort in working with younger children, so that one day their own children will be fortunate enough to have the best Book Buddy of their own.

I am continuing my work with Jumpstart this year as a Team Leader. Although this requires that I pass on my Book Buddies leadership to a new crew, I will still serve as a supporting member to help the program reach its full potential. Additionally, attending the Pearson Student Leadership Summit inspired me to help Book Buddies grow to serve an even larger population beyond Evanston. I will be tackling this feat in the upcoming months and am excited to see the results!

Help Timi and Jumpstart work towards the day when every child enters school prepared to learn. Join us in reading Llama Llama Red Pajama on October 6th for Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign: www.wegivebooks.org/readfortherecord

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pearson Foundation Announces GO GREEN! Challenge

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Today we launched the New Jersey GO GREEN! Challenge, a video public service announcement (PSA) competition for students designed to raise awareness among young people, educators, and policymakers about the importance of clean, renewable energy sources. 

The New Jersey GO Green! Challenge is open to all Garden State residents between the ages of 13 and 18. To enter, students must produce a 30-60 second video PSA that explains the need for renewable, carbon-free energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat.

The Grand Prize winner will receive will receive an Apple iPad and an invitation to join New Jersey public officials and Pearson executives at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the solar panels at Pearson’s Cranbury facility, one of the largest installations of its kind in the U.S. Two runner-ups will also be chosen. The best PSA entries will be featured online at www.pearsonfoundation.org.

“More than ever, young people are using media and technology to make their voices heard,” said Pearson Foundation President and CEO Mark Nieker. “The New Jersey GO GREEN! Challenge is a great way to engage students around the challenges and opportunities of clean energy. We look forward to seeing what the Garden State’s young people produce.”

The deadline to enter the NJ GO GREEN! Challenge is October 28, 2011. To view sample PSAs, visit http://www.njgreenchallenge.org/psas/. For rules and more information about the GO GREEN! Challenge, visit www.njgreenchallenge.org.