One Big Family

Polina had been the school’s principal and math teacher for forty years. She was known for her discipline; the kids feared her, as did the adults. She was an intimidating woman. She was also my “girlfriend”: Moya Padrooha.

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Playing Ball in the Peace Corps

I climbed the big concrete steps one after another, dripping sweat, unsure of what I’d find at the top. I’d been walking for a while and my mind was racing. It felt like the first day of school, like the first day of anything. It was a blazing hot day, but the heat was familiar. I had played ball many times in weather like this, especially in Iowa. But I was far from the cornfields of the Midwest now. I was in a place I’d never been before, a place I’d never dreamed I’d be. I was in Ukraine.

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Left, Right, Left, Right,…

The crowd of a few thousand erupt with cheer. I mutter to myself and begin the long walk back to the dugout. As I walk, they narrate my stride. Right, left, right, left! In sync with my every step. Finally, I reach the lip of the dugout after the longest thirty seconds of my life. And for their final, miserable act? I know what’s coming-, “Sit down!” they scream.

Striking out was never fun, but in Bluefield, West Virginia, it was a whole new level of humiliation.

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Baseball Was Everything

Baseball was everything, my identity was defined by it – it is what I did. When I wasn’t playing, I was training for it. Everyday of the week it was baseball, and now it was gone.

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Coach G

I am nervous; palms sweaty, knees shaking, mouth dry. My nine year old mind is racing as I stand here, knees bent, in my blue and white Coastal Silkscreen uniform, stirrup socks, and plastic cleats. 

Here comes the pitch. I gulp and take a giant swing. I hit the ball, only by definition is it a hit, it is pathetic. My hands sting and I watch the ball slowly bounce in the pitcher’s direction. Disappointed, I slowly jog out of the batter’s box and mope down the line. 

The pitcher picks up the ball, but wait!  He fumbles it, and it falls back to the grass. I start sprinting. It’s going to be close. Again, he picks it up and then throws. “Out!” the umpire yells. It’s a bang-bang play. I could have been safe, I think as I jog back to the dugout. It’s the third out and my teammates hustle to their positions but coach stops me…

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One Step Closer

“We believe that our partnership with School Square has the potential to make the volunteer management process significantly more efficient so that staff can focus more on most effectively recruiting and building those relationships with volunteers and community that is so essential for ongoing support in our schools.” Someone recently said to us, cash is king.  And, boy, don’t we know it.  As a non-profit trying to make our way in the sea of start-ups, raising the money to take us from a mock-up to an operational platform is actually everything.  No money = no platform = not being able to spark joy in children’s lives through skill-based, community volunteers.   I know.  We feel the urgency of that mathematical equation, too.   With our feet to the proverbial fire, we’ve been hot on the trail of grants and foundations that can support us to meet our goals of creating a community-centered school district through volunteerism.  And, along the way we’ve […]

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Sneak Peek: Our New Platform

We may have dropped a hint in our last post that a sneak peek of our new platform was just around the corner.  Well here we are, around that corner.  For the last several months, Simon has been working with the brilliant Patrick at DriveUX to help us give our current platform a major upgrade and make our teacher-volunteer-matching dreams come true.  We’ve added features that allow teachers, volunteers and school administrators to sign up, create profiles, schedule meetings, approve references and oh-so-much-more.  After several iterations, it is looking sharp, user-friendly and the School Square team is feeling pretty proud of our new tech-knowledge.  Words like UX design, beta, wireframe and MVP are now part of our everyday conversation and we love it!  But, don’t worry if those terms sound like gibberish to you.  We understand.  And that’s why we’ve included lots of pictures in this post and a few definitions.  So, drum roll please… We are proud to present […]

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Spotlight Series ☀ Olympian Julia Clukey

“Kids need a lot of people to believe in them. Every kid has potential for greatness and every kid should feel like they belong somewhere. ” Julia Clukey called from the training facility in Lake Placid, where she’d just finished up her luge training for the day in anticipation of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.  I’ll admit, when my phone rang I was a little nervous.  Fielding phone calls from Olympians isn’t an everyday occurrence for me.  In fact, that day was a first.  So what does Julia do when she’s not busy flinging herself down an icy slide at mind-boggling speeds?  How does electrical engineering come into it?  And what does that have to do with School Square, you’re wondering?  Why, I’m so glad you asked… Throughout the course of our interview, it became clear that several things really drive Julia: education, community and sparking a passion in others. No wonder the School Square team was smitten! Julia was born and […]

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Update- Fall 2015

Update It’s been a while since we last posted to the blog or sent a message, so we thought we’d reach out and let you know what we’ve been up to. We sure have been busy the past two months; whether it’s been building strong partnerships within the community or making individual teacher-volunteer connections, our days have been filled… Keep reading for a more detailed update on what we’re doing in the community, what we have in store and, most importantly, how you can help us get there. What have we been doing?   For starters, with the enthusiastic support of their superintendent, Jeanne Crocker, we have officially partnered with the Portland Public School System for the 2015-2016 year. We could not be more excited for this partnership – it is a critical step in working together to ensure students, teachers and community members connect in meaningful ways. To top that off, we were thrilled to receive an incredibly generous donation of $2,500.00 […]

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