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ACE Spectrum

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.

Uncuffed Named a NY Times Recommended Listen and Audio Academy Fellow is Discovering the Silicon in Silicon Valley

Posted by on Dec 10, 2019 in ACE Learning Center, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Listener Supported Public Radio

We just got some extremely exciting news at KALWUncuffed, the show produced out of our prison training programs, was just named a recommended listen by the New York Times!

The Uncuffed team at San Quentin and Solano state prisons.
Credit: Photo montage created by Eli Wirtschafter.

Reviewer Phoebe Lett wrote, “Incarcerated men at San Quentin and Solano State Prison have joined forces to produce this moving new show. They take turns interviewing each other — stories run the gamut from forgiving abusive fathers to finding peace through yoga. Then following each story is a collective reflection on it, as the men challenge each other’s ideas of masculinity and offer reassurances that their childhood traumas are not their fault.”

Thanks so much to ACE for its support in helping us with our work in prisons, at the station, and in communities all around the Bay Area, with people from so many walks of life!

One of those people is Sarah Lai Stirland, a fellow in our current Audio Academy class. Here are some thoughts she wanted to share:

Sarah Lai Stirland (L) and David Boyer talk about a story in the KALW newsroom.
Credit: Ben Trefny.

There’s a piece of paper that I’ve kept through my career because I was so struck by the concepts and goals that were printed on it. I try to keep them in mind as I pursue my stories.

The piece of paper lays out the Atlantic Media Chairman David G. Bradley’s criteria for various kinds of editorial awards he handed out every year. There was one that I didn’t fully understand when I first saw it. It said: “Spirit of Generosity.” I worked in the cut-throat environment of the Washington D.C. press corps — the idea of having a “Spirit of Generosity” wasn’t one that was discussed much on a daily basis, generally.

However, I’ve learned much more about the “spirit of generosity” quite a bit in subsequent years because I’ve been the beneficiary of it. That’s especially the case at KALW. Every single person I’ve met in the KALW newsroom is keenly interested in seeing each of the Audio Academy fellows succeed, grow wings and fly. In fact, I feel that they have a sense of urgency about it. They all listen and want to help you gain the skills that they have, and then they want to see what you come up with.

I’m incredibly grateful for the faith and trust that they’ve put in us, and it makes me want to work hard to prove that they’re not wrong.

So far, I’ve found that radio is a much more complex medium than print. I’ve found it to be a great medium in which to play, yet technically, it is also very challenging. There’s more room to be creative, but there are also more steps involved in making your idea into a finished piece of work!

There are many things that make KALW a unique workplace. One of the most important ones that all professional workplaces would benefit and learn from is the incredibly diverse range of people that work here.

The varied perspectives coming from the diverse life experiences in our class and at the station make for fruitful discussions when we’re workshopping story ideas. There are many examples to draw from, but one quick one: When I was confronted with the prospect of creating a story explaining why Silicon Valley is called Silicon Valley, I groaned and rolled my eyes in an editorial meeting. However, to my great surprise, 95 percent of the room really did not know why Northern California has that moniker. So they inspired me to really dig into it.

Digging into the details revealed the mind-blowing scientific discoveries that took us down a path of exponential change.

Now I think I have an excellent story for KALW and the Bay Area on the history of the iconic name, and as Americans say, I’m pretty “stoked” about it.

Tis the Season of Giving and Admiring

Posted by on Dec 4, 2019 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

By Martha Sessums, President, ACE

This can be a lovely time of year when we connect with family, share stories about the year’s events and eat pie and cookies. I spent the last weekend doing that, along with a long list of chores around the house and at the computer for work.

The sit-down dinner with the grandkids was fun, and I gained points for not only knowing about TikTok but I have the app on my phone. I even taught the kids to tell me “OK Boomer” if they didn’t like my stories. In turn, I could say “OK Gen Z” for the same reason. And we all laughed at the labels because we were just having fun and there was no judgement involved.

Then on to our long-time friend’s house to join their family. Although I’m not as connected with their kids and grandkids, it was an enjoyable time talking about a wide range of topics from food to travel to health to family traditions.

ACE Learning Centers are a chance to make friends across cultures.

It’s these connections with family and friends that make me thankful for the ACE Learning Centers. They remind me how lucky I am that I have family around me and can visit friends when I want. That the grandkids – boys and girls – have choices about their education and what they want to do in life. That, in reality, our lives may not always be easy, but they don’t compare to many of the experiences of the students and parents that the ACE Learning Centers touch.

For example:
• Living in a country where you don’t know the language. Not only that, you were never, or poorly taught, to read and learning a language requires reading if one wants to read the bus schedule or information from Immigration Services.

• The first school you attended (if you ever attended one) was a mud and straw hut or a tent, so the sturdy walls and gates of this Bay Area school can be intimidating yet offer safety too. And you walked to that school tent in your sometimes shoeless feet. No cars, no carpooling, no buses, no BART, no bikes, no scooters.

• You’re a refugee who fled your country and passed through several others to get to the Bay Area. You and your family left to escape violence or war, yet the journey could also be violent.

• Because of your journey, you have not been to school for many months, and some of your fellow students have not been to school for years. You arrive at this new school hopeful, yet fearful.

• Everyone looks and talks different because the students in the school are from countries covering the alphabet from Afghanistan to El Salvador to Yemen. It can be isolating. But also a chance to make friends across cultures.

• You’re a parent who doesn’t know English, but you need to learn it to get a job and support your family. You need a school that will teach you in the evening hours when you’re not working or support you to perhaps earn a high school diploma.

• You are offered an opportunity to learn a new skill and the training you receive gives you the tools, courage and support to begin producing your own stories.

The students in the ACE Learning Centers learn many new skills. They learn English and math. They learn how to enter college and are emotionally supported once they get there, and some even have College Mentor jobs through ACE. There are amazing stories of students that succeed in high school and college and their lives. And stories of students who follow a passion or parents that succeed in learning new skills to improve themselves, their families and their businesses. Plus, stories where these successes are a struggle.

Sharing some of these stories is what I want to do in the ACE Spectrum blog for 2020 – the Year of Perfect Vision as I told my eye doctor the other day. Only by seeing into how others live and learn, their challenges and battles, their grit and dedication can we see ourselves.

The research firms like to put labels of Boomer, Gen Z, Millennial etc. on us, but the real label is that we are human, and we need to support each other. That is what ACE Learning Centers do and I admire the educational leaders who run the programs. So please look forward to ACE Spectrum sharing the ACE Learning Center student stories so we can admire their journeys and successes.

More Journalism Awards for KALW and the Audio Academy Team

Posted by on Nov 22, 2019 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Listener Supported Public Radio

Over the last two weeks, our team has been honored with 17 awards from the San Francisco Press Club and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. There are always lots of people working behind the scenes for folks who win awards, so we’d like to thank our friends from the Association for Continuing Education for their continuing support!

In our last blog post, we noted the stories and programs we were recognized for in the Greater Bay Area Journalism contest. Several members of our team represented at the awards dinner in Burlingame on Thursday, November 7, and they took a joyful picture after the ceremony:

Clockwise from the left, with Audio Academy graduating class in parentheses, that’s Holly J. McDede, Andrew Stelzer, Eli Wirtschafter (’16), Kristi Coale, Marisol Medina-Cadena (’18), and Hana Baba.

Then, on Thursday, November 14, a whole bunch of us went to the San Francisco waterfront for the Excellence in Journalism awards. Our honorees for those prestigious prizes included Maggie McKay (’19) who won “Best Feature” with KALW sound engineer Gabe Grabin for “What to Do When Your Favorite Song Has Toxic Lyrics? Play it on Repeat

Maggie McKay at podium, behind Maggie are former KALW managing news editor Jen Chien and former National Association of Black Journalists president Bob Butler.

Later in the ceremony, KALW education reporter (and current Audio Academy mentor) Lee Romney won for “Best Ongoing Series” for Learning While Black: The Fight for Equality in San Francisco Schools.

Lee Romney, KALW education reporter and current Audio Academy mentor.

KALW content manager Shereen Adel (’16), who now helps guide Audio Academy fellows every day, won the special “Unsung Hero” award.

KALW content manager Shereen Adel (’16).

Marissa Ortega-Welch, who runs KALW’s training programs, was honored as the “Best Emerging Journalist” across all media.

Marissa Ortega-Welch runs KALW’s training programs.

And the Bounce team plus Bo Walsh (’18, not pictured) won for “Best Sports Reporting” across all media.

Ben Trefny, News Director on the left, with KALW managing editor David Boyer (’14), Jen, Bob, KALW’s East Oakland reporter and Sights & Sounds host Jeneé Darden, Marco Siler-Gonzales, and Raphael Cohen.

After the ceremony, Audio Academy alums and award winners Maggie and Shereen snuck in a classic KALW twins moment.

Audio Academy alums and award winners Maggie and Shereen.

And altogether, doesn’t KALW’s award winning team make for an outstanding looking group of journalists?!

KALW’s award winning team.

That was fun.

We’ve got a lot to celebrate, and a lot more great work to produce. Back to work!