From the Classroom to Camp: A Story from the LACC

By Bryce Fender

Calixto Vazquez (Cali) is the camp director at the Latin American Community Center (LACC). Due to his background in policing, business, and team management, Cali thought he could bring his diverse set of skills to the table at the LACC and help the summer camp.

From late August to the middle of June, you can find Cali at William Penn High School. Day in and day out he demonstrates more than just a passion for teaching, but an opportunity to develop the leaders of tomorrow. To Cali being a teacher is about more than just teaching. He believes he is a mentor to his students, helping them through the beginning parts of their life and “showing kids what is the right thing to be doing.” This same passion is what led him to be the camp director at the LACC.

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When I asked Cali why he chose to be the camp director, he responded with “Because I am Hispanic and grew up as an inner-city child, I felt as if I could connect with the campers.” Every day in camp you will find him in classrooms engaging with the students. He has learned that there is a difference between being an administrator and a camp director. He doesn’t want to be in an office all day but instead wants to be with the children, helping them grow and develop. He can’t ensure that the camp runs smoothly without being all in.

The Latin American Community Center is on board with Teach For America’s Collaborative project to end summer learning loss. Cali stated, “The only way the Collaborative can go is up. We’ve learned a lot this year that we can use to make next year run even better than this year did. The Summer Collaborative is vital because without it, the kids wouldn’t have had near the same experience.” This is Cali’s first year at the Latin American Community Center and he can’t wait to see what the future holds. Featured on

“The site — combined with the recruitment and training strategies and a vigilant focus on adapting to data (Lindroth said she analyzes the data for impact every week) — will be spun off from Teach for America and built as its own entity, Lindroth said.”  

Read the full article here!

343 Hours with Julia Li

For the past few weeks, I have spent my days working with Julia Li, the Curriculum Coordinator at West End Neighborhood House. In this article, I took a look back at how my relationship with her has developed.

Hour 1:
Weeks before camp at West End had begun, we communicated via email religiously. It was instantly that I realized how much of a spunky go-getter Julia is. We have utilized every ounce of her spirit to our advantage.

Hour 75 (approximately):
Julia’s role as Curriculum Coordinator (CC), includes two things: 1) the obvious, to create and to coordinate the curriculum and 2) to coach the Instructional Coaches (IC’s) while they supervise the counselors on the curriculum. Due to our more than capable team (shout out to Kelly and Andrue), who have mastered the art of “instructional coaching”—aka overseeing all aspects of teacher responsibility, and ensuring the engagement of all campers—Julia is even spending time assisting leadership at West End in anyway possible. She welcomes any challenge, and so when she is given the task her results are stellar. Still, Julia’s job encompasses more than that. She is the one who “puts out fires.” Her experience, respect, and reliability gives comfort to everyone (from campers to staff), to stand on their own two legs.

Hour 284 (probably):
I wanted to do my best in showing the true light of Julia, and so I did the one thing I do best: I hounded Julia with quintessential questions of who she “really” is and why she “really “ is; and I should have known that she would never disappoint.

Hour 328 (or so):
It just so happens in a parallel to my life, Julia immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 9. Her parents believed education was equal to success, no if, ands or maybes about it! Brought up in the suburbs of Wilmington, through the Brandywine School District, Julia considers herself very much a local. She became aware of the misconceptions of inner-city schools, children and communities and directed her passion to bridging the gap between the divided city.

Hour 343 (Where do we go from here?) This is how the Summer Collaborative will play out and with many dedicated and determined people just like Julia!:

  1. Outreach!!! What better way for change than to serve the community?
  2. Dismantling institutionalized biases of inner-city functionality.
  3. Communal involvement—breaking the divide of wealthy and low-income neighborhoods/families.


This is Julia Li.


What? No, they did not pose for this! Julia (CC), and Andrue (IC), review lesson plans for the week ahead.


Who doesn’t love a great candid? Our leadership representative, Tara Wiggins (middle), and counselor Jasmine Bodson (left), share the spotlight with Julia.


No, our “Xpectations” isn’t missing an E, that’s the way we like it. Julia showing off her “Wall of Fame” creation in association with “Tara’s Terrace” and “Catherine’s Corner.”

Meet Rick & Miss T from the YMCA

By Emma Derr

Roderick (Rick) is a counselor at the YMCA. He grew up in Bear and graduated from Caravel in 2011. He is a current student at UD with a business management major and organizational and community leadership minor.

When campers walk into the YMCA every morning, bright and early, they see Rick’s smiling face. He is in charge of checking all the campers in before they start their day. But this is the only time you’ll see him sitting down – as soon as sign in is over he’s off playing games with the kids.

Throughout the rest of the day, Rick is teaching clubs, normally Reading is Fundamental, a program to help kids enhance their reading comprehension skills, and science.

When I asked him what his favorite club was, his hands went up as he said, “Science – by far, science. One of my favorite parts of being a counselor is seeing the kids’ reactions to the science experiments we do together.”

These academic clubs are part of the Summer Collaborative’s effort to give kids the opportunity to learn during the summer in a fun, engaging, and lasting way. Rick has seen the way the program has positively impacted kids in the program, especially in many individuals whose attitudes have improved.

Rick commented that his summer at the YMCA has changed his life as well. He had planned to become a businessman, but he decided that instead of waking up every morning, donning a sharp suit, and grabbing his business briefcase, he would rather work at a school. He told me he learned that the “fanciness” wasn’t going to help others – but a job in education would. His goal is to do Teach For America after he graduates, and then move on to a career in school administration.

When asked to discuss how the YMCA has impacted campers’ lives this summer, Rick said, “Finding out that they can enjoy science or reading – that even though it is school related they can have fun with it – that’s one of the biggest take away the kids have this summer – there’s more to life than sports and gossip.

Tierre, (otherwise known as Miss T), has been working as a summer camp counselor at the YMCA for five years. She has a very special relationship with the YMCA and the kids at the camp. Since Tierre grew up in Wilmington, she finds it easy to relate to the kids, and they find it easy to talk and confide in her.

Growing up, Tierre spent her summers stepping in the streets. When she became a camp counselor, she wanted to help others recognize their own passion for step dancing, so she created a step program at the YMCA. Her thriving step team practices every day after camp and will perform at the talent show on August 7.

Between practices and coordinating the step program, Tierre teaches many academic clubs. She has recognized many positive changes this summer: “Now that the kids can choice into clubs, they are more content, which translates to fewer behavior problems. They also need the academics, so figuring out they can learn while having fun is a phenomenal change.”

As Tierre approaches her senior year at Delaware State University, she contemplates what is in store for her after school. Originally, she had planned to move to Georgia, but now she has realized that she wants to stay – “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and I realized that I need to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”

A Conversation with Anna Manthey

During the school year, Anna Manthey is a teacher at Urban Promise in Wilmington, where she teaches 3rd and 4th graders. She will be starting her fifth year as a teacher in the fall, but her job doesn’t stop when summer roles around. After a Teach for America Corps member first introduced Anna Manthey to the Summer Learning Collaborative, she decided to take on the role of Instructional Coach at the Boys and Girls Club this summer.

On a day to day basis, Manthey is a coach and mentor for counselors, where she “supports them in strengthening their teaching skills and helps them feel more confident in their role.” On an average day, you can find Manthey modeling different coaching strategies for the counselors of Boys and Girls Club. One of the biggest challenges of her role? Unlike teaching, she is coaching counselors who are her peers – not younger students – which can sometimes present itself as a difficulty.

Ultimately, however, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is working with her team of counselors. “The staff really cares about the kids, and they are passionate about making a difference in these kid’s lives,” Manthey described. She cited some of the best parts of her job as seeing her campers use the anger management strategies that her team has taught them.

Manthey believes in the importance of spreading the word about the Summer Collaborative because it is essential that new people are brought onto the project each year so that it can strengthen and grow. With the dedication of people like Manthey, we know the Collab has a bright future ahead.