RFH Student Participates in Summer Study at Yale; Becomes Youth Leader in NJ

October 18th, 2011


The Sisters Academy in Asbury Park NJ is an all-girls middle school for 5th through 8th graders that provides its students an academically challenging and highly disciplined learning environment.  Just as with all other schools, there are specials, or opportunities to take non-academic classes as well. At the Sisters Academy, one of their electives, Hip-Hop Dance class, is taught by RFH’s own Sydney Ringer (class of 2012).

This past summer, Ms. Ringer participated in a “Leaders for Social Change” course housed at Yale University. The program, offered by Academic Study Associates (ASA), was a three-week-long summer program offered to high school sophomores and juniors that focuses on developing future leaders. Youth attending this program identify a global issue of concern to them (such as global climate change or health care access), then develop skills that are applicable to developing strategies for change: leadership skills, problem solving, finance, volunteer strategies and more. Participants of this program then develop an action plan to make a difference in their community back home.

“Back home,” Sydney remarks, “is a lot of places. This program was highly international, and home was Lebanon, Brazil, Italy, and beyond. It was interesting to work towards finding common ground with my fellow students. We had to accept things about each other; we had to agree to disagree.” This ability to work together is a hallmark of the young participants. In the end, these students – Sydney included– had to take their action plan home and make it work.

Sydney’s idea revolved around her talent, dance and choreography, as she has been dancing competitively for 9 years.  Ms. Ringer’s plan was to bring some of her knowledge to students who had a desire to learn dance, but probably not the resources.  But the location? The students? That wasn’t yet worked out upon her return.  An introduction to the Sisters of Mercy in Asbury Park was all that was needed. Sydney began teaching a dance class at Sisters Academy, and now is in the middle of the first full semester of her class. Sydney is working with half of the seventh grade students during their school day in the fall semester, and the other half in the spring semester. Sydney runs the class from warm-ups to new moves, and then works on a sequence and routine. It is her hope to have a performance space for the students to hold a recital at year’s end.

The opportunity to keep learning presents itself regularly to Ms. Ringer as well. She commented that teaching as a skill is less mysterious to her; she now understands an educator’s focus on students and providing them an opportunity to succeed.

These leadership skills dovetail nicely into Sydney’s future plans.  She is interested in politics and finds herself attending to the multitude of points of view that exist in the world.  Ms. Ringer’s preparation for college reflects the nature of her interests; the schools from which she is waiting to hear are known for their exceptional programs and students.  RFH commends Sydney’s dedication to leadership and community development.

For more information, please contact:
Kate Okeson, RFHRHS Public Relations
908-347-2424  kokeson@rfhrhs.org

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