At just 14-years-old, Christopher “Topher” Cornell loves to take on new challenges. In the year-and-a half that he’s been a TGR Learning Lab student member, Topher has joined numerous classes exploring topics from graphic design to app development and forensics. A high school freshman at Cambridge Virtual Academy, Topher partook in the TGR Learning Lab’s Pi-ology class this summer and had the opportunity to work with a Raspberry Pi for the first time. Learn more about his hands-on experience with the Pi and how he plans to incorporate what he’s learned into his possible future career!
As educators come through the TGR Learning Lab for the very first time, they often hear the excited chatter from students busy tinkering and creating. From the mechanical sounds of gears rotating within the 3D printers to EV3 robots zipping up and down the hallways, there is a palpable energy throughout the building.
These educators quickly catch onto the enthusiasm coming from the students who are given the unique opportunity to move beyond textbooks and truly take charge of their learning. Having worked with both students and educators, what I’ve come to recognize is that regardless of our age or life experiences, we all have a natural curiosity and a desire to be life-long learners. Teachers love to be just as engaged as their students. It reminds them firsthand of what their students will be challenged with when they learn new concepts.
As any educator knows, students invariably leave a mark. Whether your orbits pass quickly, or they line up for months or years, your time with a student – the shared learning experiences, the bits of laughter or frustration, the feeling one gets during moments of reflection – is lasting. For some, it might be the slightest bout of recognition (“That’s right, you sat in the back corner of my class!”); for others, for one reason or another, no amount of time can completely wash away a set of memories. Elmu Sadalah was one of those students who left an indelible mark.
EdTech Breakthrough recently recognized TGR EDU: Explore as the Overall College Prep Solution of the Yearin its EdTech Breakthrough Awards. Including the suite of college access and preparation resources highlighted, TGR EDU: Explore is a free digital platform, developed in partnership with Discovery Education, to empower students, educators and families with resources, skills and experiences to help them achieve success in and outside of the classroom.
After participating in the TGR Learning Lab Expanded Learning Program for the first time, Matthew Payan’s passion for science was awakened and his participation continued. During the pandemic his interests led him to several classes that allowed him to gain skills that he put to use immediately. He recently reflected on his experience and the benefits of participating in the TGR Learning Lab’s Programs as he prepares to start his freshman year of high school in the fall.
As I look back on the 15 years since the TGR Learning Lab opened its doors to students and families in Anaheim, California, I am immensely proud of the hard work, growth and student success that has taken place. Thousands of underserved students have walked through our doors into a safe space that has given them opportunities they might not have had otherwise. The Learning Lab has helped students find their passion and pursue it, experience innovation and foster creativity all while being supported by caring adults to mentor and guide them on their journey.
As TGR Foundation celebrates National Volunteer Appreciation Week, the TGR Learning Lab shines a spotlight on TGR Learning Lab volunteer Nancy Rich Villa. Nancy’s experience as a volunteer with virtual STEM classes reconfirmed her decision to pursue a career supporting underserved youth.
A mother and a full-time student, Nancy will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology Science from the University of California, Irvine this June. She plans to attend graduate school at Cal State Fullerton to work toward a master’s degree in social work.
Here she shares her experience being a virtual volunteer with the TGR Learning Lab’s instructional staff and community of students during the pandemic.
After years of reaching young people across the country through education and youth development programs, Tiger Woods challenged his foundation “to make bold choices, explore unchartered territory and reach millions of kids around the world.” Now in its 25th anniversary year, TGR Foundation has met his challenge and celebrates two million students reached.
“An unprecedented year”
We’ve heard that phrase many times this year, and although it’s a reflective sentiment for the pandemic, it’s also cause to acknowledge diversity, ensure equity and to seek inclusivity – individually and collectively.
TGR Foundation has learned a lot in 2020, and I am proud to share how we advanced our programmatic work in new and still impactful ways.
When she walked through the doors of the TGR Learning Lab (TGRLL) as a fifth grader, Amelie Jimenez knew she had found the perfect space to explore all her interests. Now a 17-year-old junior at Los Angeles Unified School District’s Bell High School in Bell, Ca, Amelie can’t imagine her educational journey without the support of the staff, teachers and classes that have shaped and guided her education journey. With plans of studying engineering one day, Amelie reflects on her favorite in-person and virtual classes, the lessons she’s learned from COVID-19 and why every student should participate in TGR Learning Lab programs.
Highlighting the contributions to the TGR Learning Lab’s Player Development Program for more than 12 years, TGR Foundation recognizes the ongoing contributions and partnership of the LA84 Foundation.
Led by Renata Simril, President and CEO, the LA84 Foundation and its sister charity The Play Equity Fund has impacted more than three million youth and their families over the last 30 years and continues to create opportunities, build positive youth development and transform lives through sports. With increased focus on the challenges of COVID-19 and the pursuit of social justice, the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund expanded its goals in 2020.
As the nation transitioned to social distancing and remote living in response to COVID-19, student learning was an important concern. Using more than 20 years of experience, TGR Foundation responded quickly and continued serving our community of students, educators and families.
As we reflect on our virtual spring and summer programs over the last five months, and head into a new academic year, we’re proud of what we have achieved and motivated to continue our efforts to empower youth through education.
When she’s not working toward her dream college and career Tanis Priddle, a rising senior at Eugene Ashley High School and the North Carolina School, can be found performing at an athletic event or varsity cheerleading competition for Eugene Ashley High School, practicing one of the many string instruments she plays or leaving Wilmington, North Carolina for a spontaneous travel adventure.
After learning about TGR Foundation’s virtual College Bound Academy, Tanis took advantage of the opportunity. She recently reflected on her experience and how it’s shaping her path to college and career success.
This year since the transition to remote learning, I’ve consistently read and heard about the failure of remote learning and how students will continue to fall further and further behind because teaching can’t happen without a classroom.
We are at an inflection point, one that challenges teachers, and everyone in education, to not succumb to the way things used to be, but instead, give voice and energy to what can be for each and every classroom around the country. Now is the time to create new spaces for learning – without fear of failure.
We encouraged our TGR Learning Lab educators to experiment during their summer virtual classes, and they learned seven practices that proved to be effective in remote learning environments.
A longtime TGR Learning Lab (TGRLL) student, 15-year old Nathan Zet is a familiar face at our flagship facility in Anaheim, Ca. Despite the recent shift from in-person classes to virtual learning due to COVID-19, Nathan has remained an equally dedicated student. A sophomore at John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, Nathan is the only student who participated in every TGRLL virtual summer class offered including Space Science, Photography: Visual Storytelling, Healthy Habits at Home and What’s “App”ening in Computer Science, in addition to taking virtual golf lessons. In an interview with TGR Foundation, Nathan reflects on his favorite classes, hobbies and his dream job.
I have been volunteering at the TGR Learning Lab since May 2016. Over the course of these four years, I have been able to meet wonderful people, as well as learn some new skills that I hope to use in my future career. I got involved in volunteering at the TGR Learning Lab through College 2 Career, a program at North Orange Continuing Education that helps students with disabilities get an education and find volunteering or employment opportunities. I have always known I wanted to work with youth. Thus, my job developer discovered the TGR Learning Lab and helped me apply. Once I began volunteering at the TGR Learning Lab, I kept returning because people there have accepted me for who I am, regardless of my disability. I have Cerebral Palsy, but that does not stop me from doing anything I want to achieve.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is Commencement. I love the pageantry, the music, the colors, seeing proud families cheering on their graduate and yes, I do cry at Pomp and Circumstance – every time. Commencement signals a rite of passage, and comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, sleepless nights and hope. For some this road of accomplishment represents a different kind of sacrifice, unique to those who will be the first in their family to graduate.
The Class of 2020 has achieved its success in the shadow of a world health crisis and the unsettling circumstances surrounding racial inequities. In the face of darkness, learning and education will always be a bright light.
Education has the power to be one of the greatest equalizers in our society. But the heartbreaking events of the past several weeks and the countless tragedies throughout history remind us that systemic racism is deeply rooted in all of our institutions, notwithstanding our education system.
As we close our offices today in observance of Juneteenth, the leadership at TGR Foundation is recommitting itself to not only do better but to do more in support of our Black and Brown students, colleagues and communities.
Every day at TGR Foundation we work toward our vision of a world where opportunity is universal and potential is limitless.
Our impact over the last 25 years has reached into deeply underrepresented communities of color. As we move through an unprecedented global pandemic and unrest over the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many other members of the Black community that have come before them, our thoughts are with their families. Beyond our emotions, we offer our support and commitment to be a part of real change.
Many of us have heard “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Going into my first day of high school, all I could think about was the destination – graduation night. However, being the oldest sibling also meant achieving this goal wasn’t just for me. I realized early on that I had to be the one to set the steppingstone for my younger siblings, show them just how important education is and what it means to have a high school diploma; graduating is the first step in doing so.
Losing the privilege of that special walk because of the COVID-19 outbreak took a good while for me to process.