ACE Learning Center Empowerment Stories – An Oscar Nomination, Flexible Continuation School and Rights Posters
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
In August, 2016, I predicted it would be a year of empowerment for students and leaders at ACE Learning Centers, and they have not disappointed. In fact, their inspiration is above and beyond expectations.
Above Expectations – The Oscars are scheduled for this Sunday, February 26, and KALW Audio Academy graduate Daphne Matziaraki’s (’14) film 4.1 Miles is nominated for Short Subject Documentary. One of five nominees, the film is about rescuing refugees off the coast of Greece told from the perspective of a Greek Coast Guard. It is a powerful film – watch it here. Her work is an inspiration, and we will enjoy many more stories from Daphne. Yes, being nominated is an amazing honor, but really, we want Daphne to win and take home that golden Oscar. Never the less, no matter how the Academy members vote, we’ll take the empowerment!
Also Above Expectations – Oakland International High School empowered its students in a Reading Class last October where they studied and discussed their rights living as documented and undocumented immigrants in Oakland. The result was a series of posters and postcards about a variety of rights we all have regarding the right to education, right to fair wage and fair treatment at work, right to interact with police, right to free speech and assembly, and how to protect and defend the right to remain in the U.S. They are concise and easy to read and understand.
The cards and posters are in English and other languages spoken in Oakland, and are available free from OIHS. The ACE Spectrum posted about the program in January, and it has been a big success. The posters and cards are in their second printing. Empowerment in your pocket and on the wall!
Beyond Expectations – San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) is patching the cracks in the high school system of alternative continuation classes for students with unique needs. San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) supports continuation schools that offer independent study coursework, flexible schedules and counseling services to students for whom the traditional high school schedule of 8am–3pm, Monday–Friday will not work because they work at night or during the day. The big crack in the system is that these programs have not been open to English learners.
“Too often, this gap in programming has pushed our students out of school,” said Kyle Halle-Erby, SPAN Program Director at SFIHS, in an ACE Spectrum blog.
After a presentation to SFUSD, the high school won an Innovation Award to fill this gap. SFIHS knows how to design a satellite continuation school to better serve unaccompanied, recently arrived immigrant, ESL students who need to work full time, but they didn’t have the space. By showing the need and offering a case history of one student, they convinced the district to let them partner with the central office to pilot their continuation program this Spring, allow them to reenroll students who had dropped out, plus explore a move to an expanded campus next school year that accommodates SFIHS’s growing student population and education processes.
As Julie Kessler, SFIHS Principal said, “Please show these students that they matter, and give them an education that is worthy of their strength.” Check out the presentation here.
Gaining empowerment often requires support from teachers, administrators, organizations, storytellers, professionals, family and fellow students. But it also takes the recognition of empowerment’s value as a lifelong goal that drives a student’s personal best to reach out and grab it.
There will be many more ACE Learning Center empowerment stories to come. Stay tuned.