PEERS Fellow Announced

From The Fieldstone Foundation

The Fieldstone Leadership Network is proud to announce that Renato Paiva, Executive Director of Access Youth Academy, has been selected as the 2014 PEERS Fellow. Renato has led the organization since 2006 and participated in a Fieldstone Learning Group in 2012. The mission of Access Youth Academy is to transform the lives of underserved youth through academic enrichment, health and wellness, social responsibility and leadership through (the game of) squash.

The PEERS Fellowship is part of the Fieldstone Leadership Network’s continuum of leadership development programs supporting nonprofit leaders. The PEERS Fellowship has been crafted to provide nonprofit executives using a social entrepreneurial framework to address communal challenges with access to other entrepreneurs to think with and learn from as they work. Executive coaching and participation in the nonprofit school at Harvard or Stanford is included in the year-long program.
The Fellowship program is made available through a partnership between the PEERS Network and the Fieldstone Foundation.

Congratulations Renato!

Please visit The Fieldstone Foundation for more information.


Squash Nationals

By Tiffany Fung

Access Youth Academy’s girl’s squash team traveled to Philadelphia on January 24th to participate in the annual Urban Squash Team Nationals, where they placed top two nationally in the girl’s under fifteen division.

Access Youth Academy, a nonprofit organization in Mira Mesa, teaches select Preuss students how to play squash and gives them the resources to excel in academics and service. The athletes who went were Lisette D. (‘18), Madison O. (‘18), Alejandra P. (‘17), Reyna A. (‘17), and Felicia J. (‘18). The trip was supervised by Christine Trinidad, Access’ Operations Manager, and Yuri Franca, Access’ Squash Coach. Coach Franca had a lengthy experience training with the Harvard’s men’s squash team, pushing him to rank one U19 in the U.S., and went pro soon after that.

The trip to Philadelphia lasted two days and one night. The team flew out Friday night, with three matches on Saturday, and played their finals on Sunday. Each team consists of five people and are matched up accordingly in rank when playing another team. Preuss’ squash team played in the division GU15, which had eighteen teams playing.

Perez (17’) excitedly explained, “This trip not only created a better team bond between us but also showed us how strong our sportsmanship was compared to the other squash teams that played.”

With the squash guidance and coaching of Franca, the girls were able to improve in each of their squash matches. Also, due to the girls’ squash experience, garnered through countless hours of additional squash trainings, the girl’s squash team was able to blast through their age division, annihilating all the other participating squash teams: which included StreetSquash A and B, and Racquet Up, guaranteeing them a spot in the finals.

However, although all the girls fought strongly and played remarkably well, they lost at the finals (2-3) to Squash Haven, a respectably powerful squash team that trains at Yale University.

“It was a good experience having lost badly last year but being able to come back and redeem ourselves makes me more determined than ever to beat all the other teams in the East Coast and take home the team national title again,” says Diaz. Access’ girl squash team, most of whom have graduated, has held the Urban Squash Team National Champion title for six years (2008-2013) in the age divisions of 15 and 17/19.

“This year’s team nationals at Philly was a great experience. Last year, they placed seventh out of eight teams in GU15. But this year, they placed second out of eighteen teams, so it’s a huge improvement for the girls,” notes Franca. Franca also adds, “I am really proud of them because they never gave up. They played with a full one hundred percent of heart and hustle. With every rally and match, the girls played better and better. This shows that the more trainings we put in and the more tournaments they play, we hope to be able to take the Urban Team Nationals Champion title next year.”

There are high hopes for Access’s new and upcoming girl’s squash team to take home the trophy next year.


NUSEA Academic Contest Finalist

ChelsieNUSEAEssayFinalist2014A big congratulations to Chelsie D. for being an U15 National Urban Squash + Education Association Academic contest finalist for her essay about what issue in the community or world she would like to change and how she would address it. This is her third recognition as a finalist for the annual contest.

The Outdated Education System and the Need for Reform
By Chelsie D.

It cannot be argued that the American education system has created great people who have changed the world. However, according to new studies, America is falling behind in comparison to other countries such as China, Japan, and even Vietnam. What is it that America, which is made out to be one of the most advanced countries in the Western Hemisphere, is doing wrong with its education system? The American education system is outdated and a part of a futile system, and while the intentions are good, reform is needed.

The American education system has not been reformed since it’s modern creation in the 1850’s. In the past 150 years, no significant change has been made to the public school system. The education system is built to mold children into what they would have been 200 years ago: factory workers. Children were, and still are, sent to school for a set amount of days a week, study for a set amount of hours a day, under the supervision of a superior. In the 1850’s, this factory-model classroom was practical for preparing a child for the industrial age. However, 150 years later, this model has been proven outdated. We no longer live in the industrial age. We no longer go to work at factories for 60 hours a week. We no longer need an education system that prepares children for a workplace with little personalization.

This is not the only flaw in the education system. Students are tested on memorization and given grades based on that. This system determines where they go to college, which job they will get, and how much money they will make is ludicrous. Why can’t students be graded on how good of a friend they are or how great of a personality they have or how kind they are? Because aren’t those the things people should strive for? Shouldn’t success be measured by how happy you are as opposed to how much money you make? Instead, we have teenagers getting grades that will essentially decide their future before they are old enough to drive. Instead, we are expecting 18 year olds to be responsible for themselves when five months ago they had to raise their hand to use the bathroom. Instead, we have a skyrocketing number of teens with anxiety and depression stemming from academic stress.

The American education system has to be scrapped in favor of a more personalized, practical system. Of course, such a tall order cannot be done immediately. The switch to the Common Core Standard that is being adopted throughout the United States is a positive start. However, we must go further. Students should get a more personalized education. Every student learns differently, and these different learning styles should be accommodated so that every student can thrive.

In conclusion, the American education system is clearly dysfunctional. It is not bringing students to their full potential, and is in fact doing the opposite. The education system needs to reformed.