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.
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A Year of Transition – New Faces and Leadership at Oakland International High School ACE Learning Center
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
I am always inspired by the dedicated educators and students at Oakland International High School (OIHS). It was one of the first ACE Learning Centers starting as an English as Second Language (ESL) and computer basics program for parents of OIHS students. But by thinking bigger, the ACE Learning Center expanded from just supporting families to the Learning Lab that identifies the barriers of OIHS’s diverse group of students and helps them overcome roadblocks and succeed.
Lauren Markham, who was the OIHS Community School Program Manager, will take over running the Learning Lab and all the other ACE Learning Center activities. It’s a transition year for her, but every OIHS student is in transition. In a recent visit, she explained the amazing diversity of the class of 2019/2020, which speaks to their challenges.
Students come from 32 countries and speak over 30 languages. Central America and Mexico make up the largest group (74%) including countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Dominican Republic. Seven percent are from Yemen. The balance is from other parts of Africa, South America and Asia.
Approximately 4% of students are refugees and 8% are asylees who have fled their country due to persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Approximately 37% are unaccompanied minors who crossed into the US without parents and were apprehended by US immigration authorities. OIHS has always taken unaccompanied minors, especially since the increase began a few years ago.
Approximately 40% are Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) who have a gap of 2 years of more of education.
The OIHS students come to the campus from more that 12 Oakland zip codes and 40% of the students have a daily commute longer than 45 minutes.
The Learning Lab classes start with teaching English and it’s the basics. Not just vocabulary, but grammar, pronunciation, spelling and writing. Plus, proper use. If any student’s goal is to succeed in college, just learning US slang may feel triumphant but won’t get anyone past admissions.
Then there’s math. Also required for getting into college, especially algebra, that unifying thread for almost all mathematics. Classes focus on honors math and algebra to give a broad understanding and basic skill set that not only gets students past remedial math college classes but is helpful for everyday life. Made that perfect shot at a basketball or trash can? That’s algebra. Got a problem to solve? Breakdown the problem and find a solution – that’s algebra. Need to cook a frozen piece of meat? Figuring out the thaw time is algebra.
OIHS also partners with Oakland TV station KDOL to give students a look at what a job is about.
“KDOL wedges a real experience in student’s day to day,” said Markham. “These are real learning gains that support these kids and can impact their lives.”
OIHS Learning Lab and the many other programs that the school has developed to help this diverse group of students has been so successful that the Oakland Unified School District asked Sailaja Suresh, who was the Director of the Learning Lab, and Co-Principal Carmelita Reyes to develop and deliver these best practices for the district.
Markham has been with the ACE Learning Center/OIHS Learning Lab since its beginning, and she is taking over management of the program. Importantly, she understands the transitions each of these students and their families face. It is hard and full of challenges. Students are often at school from 8:20am to 6pm fulfilling their learning requirements. Many have to work or support and help their families. And there’s that 45+ minute commute to school.
But OIHS and its Learning Lab embolden and empower these students. It’s a model for best practices that support these students in their many transitions. I look forward to sharing many of these stories.
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio, and the Audio Academy Class of 2020
This week, KALW’s Audio Academy class of 2020 gets started. We’ll have two days of orientation, and then they’re off and reporting! It’s my pleasure to present them, in their own words and photos:
Sona Avakian (she/her/hers) – You can pronounce my name Sona; it’s not as hard as you may think — long O. You might slip up and call me Sonya occasionally; it happens. I don’t have any radio experience, but I have some (very little) journalism experience. For a while I did a Q&A with authors and artists having events in SF for examiner.com and I’ve done a few interviews for The Rumpus. Issues that I’m interested in are: housing and the cost of living in SF; how to survive as an artist/musician in San Francisco; environmental issues; and local history. I’m looking forward to the Audio Academy.
Christopher Egusa (he/him/his) – I’m a mid-career (aka older millennial) East Bay native. My career has included video production, designing social impact programs, and brand strategy for purpose-driven organizations. I have some experience with radio/audio, including writing and producing video projects, and an internship at NPR, in which I was exposed to the business side of public radio while also getting to ditch the suit and dip my toes into the journalism end. I am most interested in stories around chronic illness and mental health — both the personal experiences of people, as well as the cultural landscape underpinning them. My own experience being diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years ago precipitated an internal shift in my identity and priorities, leading to a desire for a career change and to investigate some of these untold stories in all of their multidimensional fullness. I have plenty of other interests: music (I’m a longtime musician and lover of folk/bluegrass); social impact and business/technology; filmmaking; really excellent coffee and ice cream. Ultimately, I just can’t wait to help tell stories that matter!
Julia Llinas Goodman (they/them/theirs) – I’m a freelance writer and journalist, originally from Los Angeles, who has spent the past three years living and working in Brooklyn, New York. My experience so far has mostly been in digital journalism, including working as an editor for politics magazine Jacobin and writing for feminist blog The Establishment. My reporting interests include the uses and policing of public space, underground communities and solidarity economies, and other topics related to human movement, urban space, and civil rights. I also edit an architecture and politics zine called Take Shape and love watching horror movies, hiking and running outdoors, and listening to hip hop and dream pop music.
Precious J. Green (she/her/hers) – Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I moved to the Bay Area in 2012 and haven’t looked back. Though my background and training are in law, I have pursued a different direction focused on community and connection. Currently I oversee use of space at the African American Art & Culture Complex. My radio and journalism experience is primarily as a huge fan, avid listener, and regular reader. That said, I love to hear and share the stories of the people I encounter every day. I look forward to transforming that interest from mere personal curiosity to engaging reporting and storytelling.
Imran Ali Malik (he/him/his) – I’m an audio producer with a background in medicine and religious studies, raised in Princeton, NJ, and currently live in Oakland with my wife and two children. As a former touring musician, I can’t help but bring a musical sense to hosting and audio production. My storytelling interest is primarily around cultures broad and small, as I see media as a form of cultural medicine. I currently produce an experimental podcast called American Submitter that tries to find points of harmony within the complexity of personal, family, and community life that are faced by Muslims devoted to their faith.
Joshua Sirotiak (he/him/his) – Hi. I’m a native of Chicago and Cleveland who moved to San Francisco in 2001. I’m a working tuba player, a father, and a self-proclaimed nerd who’s worked as a line cook, general contractor’s apprentice, substitute teacher, camp counselor, bar back and bouncer, and has spent nearly a decade and a half working for one upscale natural foods grocer in particular. In 2013, while living in Chicago, I participated in a seven week program run by vocalo.org (an affiliate of WBEZ) in which I produced a ten minute piece about Second Line music and culture. Currently primarily employed (musically) in Balkan Brass and Second Line styles, I’ve toured across the United States and Europe for audiences from all walks of life ranging in size from two to 20,000. I live and work in Sacramento, and my reporting interests include music as a lens into culture, race in the United States, technological solutions to climate change, and environmental sustainability/justice.
Sarah Lai Stirland (she/her/hers) – I’m a freelance journalist and editor living in Los Gatos. I’m new to radio, but I’ve wanted to learn more about telling stories in this medium for a long time. My reporting background is in technology, science writing, law, and policy. For the past few years, I’ve written about the issue of aging. I have a wide range of interests, and one of my developing ones is child development and parenting, but I’d also like to do a story for KALW on the few farmers left in Santa Clara County. I’m the mom of a 10-year old. I’m originally from Hong Kong and England.
Victor Tence (he/him/his) – My experience with journalism has been largely based in writing and photography. My audio experience is limited to a few student assignments and helping produce and interview for a podcast. I am now two years deep into my attempt to shift my career into journalism, leaving behind almost a decade of cooking in San Francisco. Consequently, I am passionate about covering the hospitality and food industry, as a way to advocate for the community I love and leverage my experience and network. I am excited to meet the rest of the fellows and the KALW team — journalists have never failed to be fascinating people.
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
The San Francisco Unified School District just launched its academic year, and KALW reporters and trainees are highlighting schools’ most fascinating issues along with some of its most extraordinary educators. Take a minute to check out some of the work that aired in the first week back for students:
This documentary, reported by KALW summer trainees Marco Siler-Gonzales (’18) and Ariella Markowitz (’19) looks at the history of muralist Victor Arnautoff’s work all around the Bay Area through the eyes of his family, other artists, students and parents at Washington, district board members, and others. It goes far deeper than the surface discussions most media have had on the topic of his controversial murals at George Washington High, and it features extraordinary and insightful voices and perspectives. Altogether, this audio work provides an extraordinarily contextual teaching opportunity about the complexities of art, race, and education.
This intimate portrait of a district instructor illuminates the challenges and values of the practice of mindfulness. It’s a continuation of KALW’s education reporter Lee Romney‘s deep dive into how SFUSD works with students from communities that often struggle in conventional education
Additionally, this week we launched a series of in-depth profiles of district “superheroes” called “It Takes A School.” The series, produced by Audio Academy graduate Bo Walsh (’18), will continue Monday through Thursday next week on Crosscurrents. The pieces are delightful and touching, and they shine a light on unsung stars throughout the city. Here’s the first one:
Happy school year, everybody!