ACE Learning Centers Grow With New Students, Classes and Support Services
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
In this new year of 2016, the support systems for students in ACE Learning Centers is expanding and growing – for both high school students and their parents.
Two of the ACE Learning Centers are located at International High Schools. The ACE Learning Center’s goals are to not only to help immigrant and low-income students graduate from high school and enter college, but to help their parents in the journey to learn English and succeed in their lives in the Bay Area. New services have been added to increase support for students and families to meet today’s challenges, along with classes that have been identified as needed to assist student success.
San Francisco International High School
Finding the way through the complexities of financing college is hard. To improve understanding of the system, SFIHS will offer Financial Aid Nights at the end of the month for alumni. Experts on submitting a free application for Federal Student Aid and the Dream Act will be on campus to help recent graduates fill out their financial aid forms.
It’s about numbers and getting them right, so 5th Year Prevention is adding numeracy classes to its roster of literacy classes. In this course, students with interrupted formal education will gain the numeracy skills they need to be successful in pre-college level mathematics courses.
The Span Scholars attending City College of San Francisco are continuing their partnerships with Latino Services Network, Tulay and the Asian Pacific American Student Success programs. Through these partnerships, the Span Scholars will develop key relationships with upper classmen on campus to improve their success and retention in college.
Oakland International High School
The parent class continues to grow and thrive in its new location at the front of the school. The relocation makes it easier for parents to find and join the class, and has also created a hub for Refugee Transitions to hold more volunteer trainings for their home-based tutoring program, which is popular with OIHS students.
SB-725 takes effect in January, which grants diplomas to students in previous classes who did not pass the CAHSEE exam. The passage of this bill affects almost 100 Oakland International alumni scattered around the world who now have an opportunity to get their official high school diplomas.
Many of these students did not have the opportunity to participate in the 5th Year continuing education program because of pressures to work or because they finished high school prior to the establishment of the on-campus ACE Learning Center. OIHS hopes to host its newly minted graduates at an official graduation ceremony later this year.
The population of unaccompanied minors at OIHS and throughout the Oakland district continues to grow. November saw the largest increase in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children crossing the border in the past two years. OIHS has been full since September, but continues to hold a few spaces open for newly arrived refugee students. They receive services and language support at the ACE Learning Center that are unavailable at other schools.
“Our Syrian population is growing and we are expecting more refugees to arrive soon from Afghanistan as well,” said Sailaja Suresh, Principal at OIHS.
ACE Learning Centers aside, if you’re a sports fan, OIHS just opened its new soccer field. It took nine years and many setbacks, but the school finally has its own turf field and outdoor basketball court for students to enjoy.
“Our five soccer teams are out there daily for practice after school, and students couldn’t be happier about finally having a field of their own,” said Suresh. “For years, we’ve shared space at a school down the street, or played on the asphalt at our school, resulting in cuts and bruises. We even tried the local park; often playing in mud and having to navigate official permit regulations that are not designed to support 100 students playing at the park at one time. We are so thrilled to finally have a space of our own for our teams to grow and thrive.”
The ACE Learning Centers were established at these schools two (SFIHS) or three (OIHS) years ago, and the educators who run them have discovered that success in preparing students and their families for living, learning and thriving in the Bay Area isn’t just about learning English and computer skills. The Centers have evolved to include support services that help navigate the system, find supportive counselors and build networks, and gain knowledge in topics beyond language. Plus, it’s nice to be able to hit a ball on your own field.
Stay tuned for more New Year updates from other ACE Learning Centers.