This fall, the Florence-Firestone community gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School (APB) building. The community was overjoyed not just by the prospect of a new facility, but the sixth through twelfth grade pathway the new building will support. The new facility will be a close neighbor to Ánimo Florence Firestone Charter Middle School (AFF), which means families in the neighborhood have a high quality pathway that will support their students on the road to college.
A Better Path
Carmen Lomeli has witnessed the impact of a Green Dot Public Schools education first-hand, and it’s why she has sent all of her children to Green Dot schools. “I was looking for a school for my oldest son and I knew little about charter schools at the time, but I heard through the community that APB was a good school,” recalled Lomeli. After seeing the robust supports her son was given and hearing about his newfound love for school, she knew her other children, as well as those in her neighborhood, needed to experience a Green Dot education. “The staff and teachers are always available to help if your child has trouble. All the teachers are prepared and really care about your children and their future.”
Next spring, APB students and staff will move into the new building and its existing campus will be the new home to APB’s sister school, Ánimo Florence-Firestone. “We know that closing the achievement gap takes multiple years, and the earlier we can begin providing students with a high quality education option, the more opportunities will be available for them after they graduate high school,” said Josh Hartford, principal at AFF. “I’m excited to be a part of a seven-year sixth through twelfth grade pathway to college for the families in the Florence-Firestone community.”
Preparing for College
APB was founded in 2006, after moving to its current location in 2009, families in the community began asking for a middle school option. This was no surprise given that APB is a trusted institution in the community and in 2009 was recognized by the California State Board of Education as a California Distinguished School, an award for schools that best represent exemplary and quality educational programs. Additionally, US News & World Report recognized APB as one of the top high schools in the country. These families saw the impact that a Green Dot education had on their high school aged children and wanted the same for their younger children. Ánimo Florence-Firestone was the answer. Led by former APB principal Josh Hartford, AFF opened its doors three miles away in 2016.
“At APB, we are getting students to college at a faster pace than neighboring schools, and we are excited to accelerate that even more,” said Brian Reed, APB’s principal. Often students enter our schools well below grade level in English and math, but at Green Dot, we meet students where they are and provide the necessary supports and resources to get them back on track to graduate and go to college. This is particularly pronounced at Ánimo Pat Brown, where under the CORE framework, students are growing in the 98th percentile in English Language Arts -- meaning they are significantly outpacing student academic growth of their peers.
Reed and Hartford are excited to see what students will be able to accomplish by having a seven-year option that provides a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum paired with high-quality teaching on a shared site. “We are excited to be a beacon for the Florence-Firestone community and truly level the playing field for students in Los Angeles.”