Thursday, February 22, 2007

Friday, February 9, 2007

Retired teacher still educating others

Originally printed inthe New Jersey Star-Ledger

Star-Ledger Staff

Harvey Silverman retired from teaching in 1995.
Sort of.
Like many retirees, the former educator, who taught fourth and sixth grades in the New York City school system, stays busy giving of his time and talents. An occasional substitute teacher at Franklin High School in Somerset, he is currently helping immigrants learn to speak English.
"I got involved with Landmark Education, a self-expression leadership program, in June. Everybody had to develop a nonprofit program --a niche situation -- and I decided to help immigrants learn English," said Silverman, of Somerset.
"The course, which I took in South Plainfield, ran from June to October. I developed my project during the third week of the class, named it Speakeasy, and came up with a plan to offer the training to people during their lunch hour because I discovered that a lot of them don't have time to go to a school or to attend a formal literacy program," he added.
Silverman began by teaching Graciella Rosales, a Peruvian woman who was living and working in New Jersey.
"My wife and I live in a complex that has condos and private houses, and Graciella cleaned the condos. She's from Peru and was living with a son in Hillsborough at the time. When she came here, I noticed she didn't speak much English. I speak some Spanish, so I asked her if she'd like help learning English and she said yes," he said.
After a trip to his local library to obtain books on how to speak English and purchasing a book titled "English in Ten Minutes a Day," Silverman began tutoring her a half hour a day, five days a week, for several months.
"I started by helping her learn the names of everything she worked with -- a broom, a mop, the vacuum, etc., and expanded from there. Graciella has gone back to Peru until April and has taken the book with her in order to teach her family there," Silverman said.
He also began placing flyers about the Speakeasy project in town and in neighboring communities.
"I've started getting calls from people interested in learning English and people in my complex and elsewhere who wanted to volunteer their time to teach. I also visited the Stein Assisted Living Residence in Somerset and talked to Susan Kalatan there about having some of the residents volunteer to teach people interested in learning. As it turned out, some of the employees wanted help," he said.
The in-house literacy program at the assisted living residence began on Oct. 4. The residents and staff work together once a week whenever time permits.
"This is a great opportunity for the residents because they have a wealth of knowledge they're willing to share and it helps their quality of life. It's also a great thing for the staff who are being helped -- African aides and Hispanic kitchen staff and housekeeping workers who are now able to set aside a few minutes during their break once a week to learn. Of course, it varies -- sometimes it's five or 10 people, sometimes more depending on whether they can set aside time. But whatever we can do to help it's worth it," said Kalatan, activities director of the facility.
"It's starting small and is a work in progress but I want the community to have this, so I'm hopeful it will continue to grow," Silverman said.
Interested persons can reach him at or (732) 873-3209. Information on Landmark Education can be obtained at

Monday, February 5, 2007

A Fashionista Grows Up in Brooklyn

Brooklyn, New York— Brooklyn-based fashion designer Aja Calvitti announced today her collaboration with the 1City Youth Project , an innovative not-for-profit youth service agency dedicated to providing free programs, activities and services to inner-city youth. The agency, now celebrating its 17th year of service, has provided free programming to more than 2000 youth in New York City with no major sources of funding.

Each Saturday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Calvitti assists high school girls in the “Fashion Club”, one of the many programs sponsored by 1City. The club has been tasked with creating a clothing line in collaboration with the agency’s modeling club. The class, which focuses not only on the creative underpinnings of the fashion world but also on its practical application in the realm of business, culminates with a fashion show of student work in June. Calvitti’s status as an up-and-comer in New York City’s rarified fashion arena grants her access to some of the city’s most illustrious young talent. As such, she has rallied her contacts to bring in a range of guest speakers whose fresh and seasoned voices are valuable assets to 1City’s youth. The speakers address questions relating to garment construction for the student fashion show and provide constructive commentary about pursuing a career in fashion design.Calvitti created the project as a means of mobilizing the community while participating in a Landmark Education leadership program. Landmark Education is an international training and development company, renowned for their flagship course The Landmark Forum ( ).“I found design while taking a home economics class in the 7th grade and it inspired me to pursue a career in fashion,” says Calvitti. “Now I’m paying it forward by volunteering with this group of girls. My hope is that my contribution might not only inspire, but also provide the tools necessary to help them follow their dreams in design.”"1City has been a part of my life since I was 15 years old. Every child and volunteer has a special and unique story. With all of our differences, the one thing that unites us all is our "City". Everyone who is part of 1City blesses me tremendously by just coming around every week and showing their commitment. I am deeply grateful to be able to give back what 1City has given to me - a home, a sense of purpose and a family!" Rev. Dr. Leisa Williams.www.basic.i8.comMedia

Contact:Aja Calvitti 973-768-3805ajacalvitti@yahoo.comA FASHIONISTA GROWS UP IN BROOKLYN

Submitted by
Aja Calvitti