Welcome Back School – We’re Learning to Become Empowered
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
The ACE Learning Centers are taking all of August and the beginning of September to start. No one is being slow here – just different start dates.
Alpha Public Schools were the first to start classes on August 8th. KALW Audio Academy will have their Orientation classes September 6 and 7. As Kyle Halle-Erby, San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) Span Coordinator at the ACE Learning Center said, “It feels good to be back.” SFIHS started August 15, and Oakland International High School will start August 22.
I requested class schedules from each of the ACE Learning Centers to update the ACE web site with the current information, and I have seen a difference in focus for the year. Outreach to the community is broader, students are seeing the value of their education and are being empowered to take it further, and the ACE Learning Centers are gaining recognition for the job they do to educate students who need extra support.
Let’s take the ACE Learning Center at Alpha, known as the Alpha Parent Center. English tests are given to parents of students attending the Alpha Public Schools this week and weekend. Based on the results, they can enter ESL classes for Spanish, and now Vietnamese. Last year, some parents were so inspired to learn English that they decided to go for their California High School Equivalency Diploma by taking the GED. According to Karen Martinez, Alpha Parent Center Manager, last year there were eight parents that were inspired to start the GED. Alpha also offers math support, childcare and access to the Food Bank once a month.
The work and results from KALW’s Audio Academy receives recognition at National Public Radio and beyond, giving it big attention for a station that is currently located in a temporary building next to port-a-potties on a San Francisco school undergoing reconstruction. Audio Academy graduates are empowered to earn jobs in national or local radio or start podcasts. Some have received justified attention from NPR and offered national distribution for their original programs. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a recent story (August 2, 2016) on the work of the radio station and the Audio Academy.
“People talk about this as a golden age of podcasting or of audio, but I think there are also aspects of a glut,” says KALW Managing Editor Jen Chien. “You can make things with very little training. Some of it is awesome, but some of it would be more engaging if you have some guidance. And that’s where we want to be.”
SFIHS’s ACE Learning Center focuses on helping recently arrived immigrants to succeed academically, socially and emotionally. An addition this year is that City College of San Francisco now recognizes the Span program, and students receive credit for their participation. Span is a program that supports high-risk SFIHS graduates through their first year of college. In addition, needs of each student will be profiled from 9th grade to 12th grade, both forward and backward, and in all subjects, so all aspects of their studies will work toward shared goals. Plus, extra support will be given to those students who need counseling and social-emotional support, making it easier to focus on school work and school success.
And that’s only the beginning. Stay tuned for more ACE Learning Center stories and reports from the teachers and students themselves this new school year. It’s going to be a year of empowerment.