ACE Learning Centers Start the School Year by Providing New Tools for Resilience, Strength and Knowledge
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
The world can be overwhelming at times, from hurricane havoc, to political changes and challenges, to the basics of figuring out how to complete high school, much less get into college. But the ACE Learning Centers are meeting many challenges not only by providing spaces to learn, but offering new tools to gain resilience and strength in meeting challenges.
Our newest ACE Learning Center is located at Oxford Day Academy (ODA) in East Palo Alto, assisting parents from Black, Latino and Islander communities. The goal is to have parents become better supporters of their children’s education, and to understand the challenges of being a parent in the Bay Area.
“We’re here to empower parents,” said Dr. Irene St. Roseman, ODA Head of School and ACE Parent Learning Center Director. “We want to support a shift where parents ask for what they need for themselves and their children’s education. They will discover that we are solution-oriented so that they will not only show up, but stay engaged.”
That engagement includes classes that focus on advocacy for students in the school system, becoming a well-rounded parent with strong communication, boundary-setting and support skills. In partnership with Gatepath, a non-profit that serves those with special needs and developmental issues, the Parent Learning Center provides support for parents of children with these issues.
San Francisco International High School’s (SFIHS) ACE Learning Center is continuing its great work for its refugee students with Acceleration and Span programs, but added a flexible-schedule continuation education program for students across San Francisco whose work and family schedules make it difficult to attend school regularly. The program uses independent study, online learning, case management and small group advising techniques to support English language learners with busy schedules. It is the first and only flex-schedule program in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Over the summer, SFIHS moved to a new campus that is large enough to accommodate its regular-scheduled classes, plus the ACE Learning Center Acceleration, Span and flex-schedule programs. “We even have a gym!” Kyle Halle-Erby, Span Program Coordinator exclaimed.
The Alpha Parent Learning Center is continuing with its classes in English proficiency for Latino and Vietnamese parents, but is adding how-to classes and guidance for parents regarding the college admission process. Alpha management learned some best practices from SFIHS’s Acceleration and Span Program Coordinators, and designed Alpha’s program to meet its local needs.
“Our first high school class is nearing graduation, and we need to support them as they move into college,” said John Glover, Alpha Public Schools Founder and CEO. “We have great parent support here, we just needed to find ways to support our students as they move into the new college experience.”
Community is key in the work done by the KALW Audio Academy, an ACE Learning Center. This is the fifth year that ACE has partnered with the nine-month long training program at the San Francisco public radio station, and it has grown into a role model for journalism training in the industry. As Ben Trefny wrote in a recent ACE Spectrum blog after he returned from a July conference of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters:
The head of the national Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), Sue Schardt, noted our prominence as a talent incubator and podcast launchpad during a session on audience research. AIR program director Ngoc-Tran Vu led a session on podcasting and shouted out KALW’s Audio Academy as a renowned place where people learn how to make meaningful work. Peggy Berryhill, from the Native Media Resource Center, said, “KALW is an extraordinary station.” And Jeff Pope, a station manager from Colorado told me, “Everybody wants to work at KALW.” Two more station managers, from California and Iowa, sat me down to pick my brain about how the Academy works, so they could imitate us in making versions of their own.
Graduates of the Audio Academy have gone on to create stories, podcasts or syndicated radio programs, and several have been nominated for or won industry awards. One graduate was nominated for a 2017 Academy award in Short Subject Documentary.
Oakland International High School (OIHS) was the original ACE Learning Center, and it continues to serve its refugee students and their families. It focuses on English language and math skills, along with preparing and supporting students for their college or career experience. One way is to offer college classes with Peralta Community College at the OIHS campus. There is a strong internship program focusing on community opportunities, including KDOL-TV. Refugee Transitions teaches the classes for parents as they learn English, technology, and the shared cultural experience of gardening and cooking.
All of the programs by the ACE Learning Centers will play a part in providing the tools to help in the continuing education of parents and young adult students as they face their future. By providing knowledge about programs, language and culture, ACE Learning Center students will have the tools and support to gain strength and resilience to succeed. ACE is honored to be here to help.