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ACE Spectrum


Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

Please join the conversation.

ACE Learning Centers Focus on Making the Learning Experience Stronger

Posted by on Dec 13, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Martha Sessums, ACE President

There’s a meme I recently shared with some friends – Before 2020, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After 2020, what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again.

Okay, it’s my habit to find humor in life, especially in our current time. The pandemic isn’t over yet. Delta and omicron abound. But we are hopefully better protected and prepared than when covid first hit the world in early 2020. The ACE Learning Centers have been a part of that preparation process, working to find safe paths for teachers, administration and students and continue to respond to evolving situations. They have also maintained their focus on education and engaging students in learning in these challenging times.

I have either visited or connected via Zoom with staff and students at the ACE Learning Centers and they all insist on everyone wearing masks properly and maintaining a safe distance from each other. Vaccinations and boosters are encouraged by management or supported by the school districts.

More importantly, they each try to maintain learning as usual but be supportive of students who are having learning issues after a year of virtual classes. Plus, they keep focused on doing a great job of teaching to move students forward to success. The new meme: when learning mutations try to kill you, The ACE Learning Centers mutate faster to make students and their learning experience stronger.

Here are some of their programs for the first part of the school year in 2021 that made learning experiences stronger:

San Francisco International High School has special mentors helping students where they need the most help, whether it’s language, math or getting into and through college.

Oakland International High School is focusing on students that had a difficult 2020 virtual learning year and are helping them get back into the rhythm of learning in person.

Alpha Parent Learning Center is working to create a mentor program with best practice advice from the International High Schools.

KALW Audio Academy is teaching community news reporting skills both online and in person in the newsroom, but the number of people allowed in the newsroom at any one time is limited. That means a lot is done with small mentor groups. The focus continues to be reporting about the Bay Area community and the Audio Academy ’22 Fellows are quite busy.

ACE shares the best practices of the ACE Learning Centers and will continue to do so in 2022. The ACE Spectrum blog will focus on students, their challenges and how these educational institutions do their best work confronting challenges in 2022.

ACE management and the ACE Board of Directors wishes each person involved with ACE Learning Centers the very best for this New Year of 2022. Please continue to be smart about and stay safe from covid. Thank you for being great ACE Learning Centers that make us all stronger.

KALW Audio Academy Success Stories Continue

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Shereen Adel, Editorial Operations, KALW News and Christopher Beale (‘21), Summer Trainee

We’re about a third of the way through our 9-month Audio Academy. Our fellows are hard at work on their very first radio features.

While they plug away at that, we have some news from alumni who were in past Audio Academy and summer programs.

Audio Academy alum Mary Goode (’14) sent us a note saying:

I’ve returned to journalism after a big break and am doing feature stories for radio and newspapers from Europe. And what I’m finding is that I refer back to my KALW days and storytelling training every day I’m writing. It really helped me to craft a story better — even for newspaper. So, I wanted to say hi, and thanks!

Audio Academy alum Wren Farrell (‘21) is now an associate producer with All Ears, a podcast from Fork Films.

And summer trainee Christopher Beale (‘21) had one of his stories air on Snap Judgment, subbed in for the host of KQED’s The Bay, and launched his very own podcast Stereotypes.

Here’s what he had to say about being in our program:

Before KALW I had a collection of miscellaneous skills and no idea how to focus them. 

I spent 20 years as a commercial radio personality and through that learned a ton about audio production, but not much about being a journalist. I moved to San Francisco to become a public radio producer and journalist and I’m pleased to say that I did just that. KALW was at the center of the journey.

I interviewed for the KALW Summer Journalism Program with Hana Baba (host of Crosscurrents) and was soon accepted into the first internship of my life — at 38 years old. The team at KALW has a streamlined and intensive program designed to turn you into a working reporter in a matter of weeks. My love of sound-rich work was encouraged and many of my news spots contained field recordings. 

I received one-on-one instruction from experienced educators and editors, networking opportunities with people at NPR, and my first story on the air, all in the first weeks. Through the detailed, hand-on instruction I received at KALW I was able to focus my skills and now have a much clearer path to the career I want. Today I am freelancing, hosting/producing a queer audio stories podcast called Stereotypes and working regularly as a reporter/producer for KQED. 

Chris with his newsroom training buddy Lorenzo Alexander.

Stay tuned in January to hear more from our Audio Academy class of 2022.


From Government Studies to Boxing, Returning to School Helps OIHS Student “Learn Better”

Posted by on Nov 30, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

A conversation between Ronaldo, Oakland International High School student, and Martha Sessums, President, ACE

Here’s Ronaldo.

The virtual learning school year of 2019/2020 was tough for Ronaldo, now a junior at Oakland International High School (OIHS). He arrived from Guatemala as a teen and learned English, made friends and began appreciating learning and his teachers. But like many students, he spent a year in virtual classes because of the pandemic and it was a tough learning experience.

“I didn’t learn too much because, you know, it’s different in person,” Ronaldo said. “They teach you and show you what you have to do, but in Zoom you just sit at the computer and it was difficult. It’s not the same as in person.”

Ronaldo had a space at home for his computer and attending classes. His family supported him in school, but he also worked at a restaurant after school, and still does. His sister also was home and learning virtually in her space. But he prefers being in the actual school community.

“It was really nice to come back to see your friends in person, have conversations in person and just wear a mask,” he laughed. “It’s still important to keep safe.”

The personal part of learning for Ronaldo wasn’t just about being and talking with friends. It was also about how he worked with his OIHS teachers and learned.

“I like the way they teach students here,” Ronaldo said. “They teach you more specifically here, try to help you to learn to be better, to learn better, make your English better. In the other school I went to they just showed you how to write . . . and didn’t ask if you understood or needed help again to understand this. They do that here. Not just for me but for all students.”

Ronaldo has a few favorite school topics including current government history and discussions about political points-of-view and how things are decided from a philosophical angle. He participated in a debate on who should make the rules – students or teachers – and enjoyed the discussion, making key points and the process of listening to one another. There was no winner, just an enjoyment of and learning from the process.

“We are the same, you know,” he said. “Always the same.”

A new topic he is learning is taking pictures with digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and making videos. He is learning to take pictures with these larger cameras that are very different than a quick snap on a mobile phone. He is also going to learn movie making skills and will create a movie for a group project in his Film Production class. When I talked to him, the topic had not been decided yet, but he will learn about telling a story in flowing pictures.

What would Ronaldo like to do when he graduates? “Become a boxer,” he says. He has learned boxing from friends and OIHS hopes to offer an after-school boxing program soon. He has watched many videos on boxing and likes the exercise.  It is also a way to make money.

“I have a friend who started boxing for two years and I was helping him,” Ronaldo said. “His first fight was in Las Vegas. He lost and you could see it in all his face, but he wanted to keep going.”

Ronaldo isn’t ready for Vegas yet but he wants to spend a couple of years learning the skills so he can pursue that dream.

But one can have a couple of possible career paths open, especially in high school where students explore lots of options. Ronaldo’s parents are encouraging him to attend college like his sister is doing, but he is not sure.

“I’m not sure I want to go to college, but they (my parents and others) tell me you have to go, it’s more better for your future,” he said.

But if Ronaldo did attend college, it could be for learning a new skill set at a trade school or vocational college.

“I was actually thinking of becoming a plumber, he said. “I could go for two years to college and learn the training. Plumbers make a lot of money.”

Fortunately, Laney College, which is part of the Peralta Colleges, offers many vocational programs like Plumber Training. The Plumber Training program prepares students for plumbing careers by orienting students to basic plumber work, tools and equipment. It also includes construction development which requires math and pre-algebra. Sorry, Ronaldo. Math counts even in plumbing.

Ronaldo started working at a Mexican restaurant after school to help with his family’s finances for 2020 and is evidently doing it so well that the restaurant is training him to become a manager. Another career path.

Ronaldo’s advice to incoming OIHS students is to read books, especially history. He enjoys the inspiration from leaders such as Martin Luther King. Although the hardest thing he deals with now is the balance between school time, work time and getting the homework done, he is glad to be at OIHS and focusing on school.

Whether it’s boxing, becoming a plumber or a restaurant manager (maybe owner) or something else, I suspect Ronaldo will smartly punch his way to success, even in these difficult times.