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Span and LERN 51 Make Navigating College Easier for San Francisco International High School Graduates
By Elizabeth de Rham, Literacy Coach, San Francisco International High School and Karen Orellana, Span Student
One of the transformational programs of the ACE Learning Center at San Francisco International High School is Span – an advocacy and academic counseling program for recent graduates enrolled in college. Span Scholars meet as a group on their college campuses with the Span Coordinator and key on-campus personnel to build support networks that allow them to successfully complete college. This support is truly crucial to ensuring that our recent immigrant students succeed in college. The vast majority of our students are the first in their families to go to college, and all need help accessing the financial and academic resources that allow them to persist in their college education.
For the last two years, the Span program for students attending City College of San Francisco has been anchored by a credit-bearing class called LERN 51, taught by one of our Span Coordinators, on the CCSF campus itself.
Before Thanksgiving vacation we checked in with Karen, one of our Span students, to find out more about how Span and LERN 51 – all made possible by the ACE Learning Center at SFIHS – helped her start out strong on her college journey.
Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Karen Orellana. I am 19 years old and I came from El Salvador in June 2015.
When did you start school at SFIHS? How did you feel when you first started?
I started in tenth grade. When I came, I was surprised to be in class with people from many different countries who spoke different languages from me. I felt afraid because I didn’t know if I had the capacity to learn English. How was I going to speak with people? How was I going to do my schoolwork? Everything was new: I was in a new school, I did not have friends yet, and all the systems in this country were different.
What did you think about college when you started at SFIHS?
I was interested in college, but I didn’t really think I would go because I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t know if I would be able to speak enough English or afford to pay for college.
What are you doing now that you have graduated?
I am taking classes at City College San Francisco. I am taking Child Development and two prerequisites: Math 70 and ESL 184. I am deciding whether to become a teacher or a guidance counselor.
What do you do in Ms. Oksana’s class (LERN 51)?
Ms. Oksana helps us figure out what classes to take, how to navigate the different class schedules, make sure we take the right prerequisites, and know when we have to register for different things. The class has also helped a lot making sure everyone knows the different degree options. Ms. Oksana invites someone from CCSF named Ms. Leti who explains scholarships, financial aid/FAFSA, Clipper Card, and all the things that make it possible to cover the expenses of being a student. We can also get individual advising during office hours after class.
How does the LERN 51 class make a difference to you and other SFIHS alumni?
It supports us with all the things we need to be successful in our first year of college. I can’t imagine trying to do college without it. I think if we didn’t have LERN 51, everything would be much harder, and some students would probably just give up on college. If I was alone, I would probably give up. There are a lot of expenses, and so much that is new and different. LERN 51 helps us with all of that.
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Listener Supported Public Radio
It’s been a really remarkable year for KALW‘s news department. We’ve provided more training than ever before, including work with more than 100 high school students in San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond; we’ve added an audio reporting program at Solano State Prison in addition to the one we’ve offered at San Quentin State Prison; and we’ve trained nearly two dozen aspiring journalists within our working newsroom. All that, plus we were honored with more awards for our journalism than we’ve ever received before.
I want to give a huge “thanks” to the Association for Continuing Education, the California Arts Council, Cal Humanities, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and all the organizations and individuals who have helped us make our public interest journalism model possible.
We’re very proud, and very tired, and we’re ready for a little vacation!
Before we go, we wanted to share some perspectives from Kevin McLean, one of the students in our Audio Academy training program, and a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow who wants to be able to communicate science through effective storytelling. Here’s where he’s at:
As we wind down this calendar year, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect back a bit. We’re only three months into the Audio Academy, but our weekly workshops are wrapping up as we start to get a handle on the mechanics of making radio stories. No one’s kicking us out of the nest yet, but we’re all stretching our wings with our first feature stories.
One of the things that I’ve enjoyed working on in these last few months has been writing for radio. I come from a background in science, where I pretty much have to delete every bit of myself from my writing. But when you write for the radio, someone is actually going to have to say what you wrote, and some of the things that I instinctively put on the page sound nuts when read aloud. Writing in my own voice (and then actually using it) has been a refreshing change. Hearing my voice is still a bit horrifying at the moment. Baby steps.
I’ve also learned to appreciate a hard deadline. One of our tasks in the newsroom is to help with the afternoon newscast. We take a look at any breaking news, write it up, and then it gets read on the air. The whole process happens in a couple hours or less. There’s no time to be too precious with words, you can’t agonize over story structure, it just has to be clear and (as mentioned above) sound like a human when it’s read out loud. It’s fast, it’s fun, and you definitely get to check something off on your to-do list.
Interviewing people has been another helpful but not always comfortable adventure. I’ve found that I get nervous in the same way as when I took an improv class a few months ago. I told a friend that I was really struggling with juggling everything – listening closely while also thinking ahead, and also coming up with something to say or ask that makes sense. “You mean general conversation?” he asked. And yeah, I guess that’s all it is, but it still gets me a little wound up. I’m not a total shut-in that never talks to people, but I will admit that in conversation I do tend to space out a non-zero amount of the time…a habit I am now diligently trying to break.
Finally, spending time with my Audio Academy class has been a huge plus. They changed the format a little bit this year, so that we are all together once a week for our workshops, which means we really get to know each other and go through this learning process together. In addition to just having people who are sharing this experience with me, I have a group of people to provide feedback, suggestions, and encouragement.
I’ll leave it at that for now, but I’m definitely looking forward to what the next six months have in store.
The rest of us are, too! And considering how good Kevin actually is at writing for his voice, and at conducting extraordinary research like this, I know there are plenty of amazing stories on the way. And by the way, everybody should really watch this very personal one that Kevin made with National Geographic. It’s a beautiful thing.
Here’s to many more in 2019!
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
This blog post is a real pleasure to write, because it includes info about the myriad training programs currently running through KALW, all of which are made possible through the support of the Association for Continuing Education. Read on!
First off, I’ve been talking with Kim Kelling, Director of Content & Community Partnerships with WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida, about how training programs are incorporated into the daily work of our news department. She was super impressed and, since her station has received a grant to learn more about how to work better with the community, they’re sending a team of people out to the Bay Area to learn from us, Youth Radio, and KQED. They’ll come by KALW the afternoon of Wednesday, January 9, to meet with me and others at the station, see what we do and how we do it, and then observe our weekly Audio Academy seminar. Should be fun, and it’s certainly flattering that they sought us out as one of the nation’s exemplary public media training programs!
Speaking of the Audio Academy, a bunch of cool stories from the current class and alums aired on KALW, and elsewhere, last week.
First off, below are some of the first newscasts to be read live by this year’s Audio Academy fellows. Lance Gardner, Pria Mahadevan, Kevin McLean, and Lisa Wang were on our air, live, for the first time. It’s a nerve-wracking, and important, part of their training, and they got it done!
Listen to Lance Gardner –
Listen to Pria Mahadevan –
Listen to Kevin McLean –
Listen to Lisa Wang –
We reaired the award-winning series Unearthing the Green Revolution from Kanwalroop Kaur Singh (’17) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
In a new piece we also aired on Wednesday, Asal Ehsanipour (’18) traveled up to Butte County to get a firsthand look at how people are trying to help each other out after the Camp Fire.
Our transportation reporter Eli Wirtschafter (’16) had a very dynamic and entertaining Q and A with Hana Baba on Thursday about electric cars and HOV stickers.
And Bo Walsh (’18), along with Jenee Darden and Tarek Fouda, is getting a lot of fascinating artists on the air as part of Sights & Sounds. This week on Crosscurrents, we aired interviews with muralist and tattoo artist Mel Waters and actress Nilaja Sun, plus, on Sights & Sounds Weekly, we heard an amazing interaction Jenee had with singer Kim Nalley. (Be sure to stick around to the end of that one for the impromptu scatting!)
That wasn’t all Bo got on the air. He had his first national piece! It’s about the Stanford band, and it ran on the perfect day — the day of the Big Game, Stanford’s annual tilt against Cal — on NPR‘s sports show out of WBUR in Boston, Only a Game. Check it out!
Some more training to talk about with teams in the field:
– Holly J. McDede and Marisol Medina-Cadena (’18) taught a workshop about media literacy and engagement at Galileo High School last week. They recorded more than 30 commentaries from students about how they interact with media. It’s part of a bigger project we received funding from Cal Humanities for, which will include workshops at Burton and Lincoln High Schools as well as our summer high school internship program in 2019. Lots more on that down the line.
– Jenee and Chris Hambrick (’15) led a training boot camp with Oakland Voices alumni over the weekend. That’s a foundation for our Sights & Sounds: East Oakland work, in which the reporters we’re working with are paired with producers, photographers, editors, and engineers to tell stories generated by East Oaklanders about their community. That partnership has resulted in the community journalism award across all media from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California in two of the past three years! Lots more about that to come, too.
– Eli and Jessica Placzek, who work alongside Andrew Stelzer at Solano State Prison, had the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation head of rehabilitation come in to observe our training program and be interviewed by some of the guys with whom we work. Pretty amazing, when you sit back and think about how far that program has come in the last year. And guess what? A professional photographer was there, too, so we’ve got great behind-the scenes images of our studio inside the prison and the program and its participants in action. Check it out right here.
Thanks to everybody who is making all of this great work around the Bay Area happen!