Empowered Immigrant Students “Get the Job Done” at San Francisco International High School
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
Walls. They may keep your dog in your yard and the cattle off the road, but I am amazed at how they spring up between people.
We are sadly in a world that seems to want more walls between people. Leaders exaggerate imaginary harm and build fear, claiming that walls are the only way to maintain the norm in our changing world.
Amidst it all, it’s great to see what the ACE Learning Centers, and the schools they are associated with, are doing to not only tear down walls between people, but to teach us all that walls don’t work in the first place. It’s acting together to help each other that ensures a more solid, successful future for everyone.
San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) is one of those leading organizations that help eliminate the walls for immigrant students and open up paths to success. The Huskies’ (its mascot is a Husky) mission is to “celebrate diversity and empower immigrant students to develop academic, linguistic, socio-economic and cross-cultural skills for success.” But it’s probably best said by Mascot Husky himself with his four principles:
• Act with empathy
• Challenge yourself
• Learn together
• Create change
The SFIHS ACE Learning Center is a small part of the high school’s programs and success, but it acts as a partner for literacy growth and overall support of students as they move through high school and onto college.
The Acceleration – Literacy program combines personal teachers and computer-based programs to not only teach English, but to overcome the struggles of language learning. Through classes and 1-on-1 support, students have increased confidence in participating in classes and reading. Plus, they use the strategies they learned in Literacy for the rest of their curriculum. Double success.
Some students have enormous responsibilities outside of school and finding a balance between these responsibilities and course work can be difficult. The Continuation program creates schedules for these students on timelines that work for each one. Teacher case management and instructional support allows students to work toward earning their diplomas.
One of the great focuses of SFIHS is preparing students for college and supporting them once there. The SPAN program serves new college students with individualized support. That can include dealing with financial aid, selecting and registering for classes, academic support and important social-emotional and stress management support. I sure could have used this program when I entered college.
Success? Absolutely. SFIHS’s student college eligibility is 99% with 82% enrolled in college. College persistence – the SFIHS graduates that stay in college and graduate – is 93%.
That’s success despite lots of learning walls initially in front of each student. SFIHS works hard at eliminating the learning walls, working with and challenging each student to learn and create change for themselves and others.
As Hamilton (who was an immigrant from Nevis in the West Indies) and General Layfette (who was from France) sang in the musical Hamilton – “We’re immigrants. We get the job done.”
The ACE Spectrum Blog will be telling stories of SFIHS students who work hard to tear down walls and get the job done. Stay tuned.