When Brianna Chavez began attending Ánimo Compton Charter School in her seventh grade year she was shocked at how different it was from her previous school. “I was in world history class and I was stuck on an assignment and my teacher just came up to me and said ‘Do you need help?’ At my old school I never got attention like that so it felt really good,” recalled Chavez. She soon noticed that this level of support was available in all her classes. At Ánimo Compton, Chavez felt seen and heard which helped restore her excitement for learning.
Serving All Students
Ánimo Compton was opened in 2018 to serve the community of Compton by providing a high quality education public school option for students and families in sixth through twelfth grades. When Chavez’s parents heard about the school they were excited by the new opportunities their daughter would have. As the school year progressed, they noticed a difference: Chavez’s grades began to improve and Chavez was so excited to go to school that she insisted her parents drop her off early each day. “My parents were surprised when they saw my grades. I was shocked too, I almost cried because I’ve never had grades like this before,” beamed Chavez. She admits before attending Ánimo Compton she had problems focusing and didn’t feel motivated to exert herself and was uncomfortable asking for help. “My teachers here really help me, I had problems with reading, but here I’ve gotten better at it,” said Chavez.
At Green Dot, we know that when a student is heading to middle school struggling with reading and math, research shows that this trajectory can lead to dropping out leaving a young person ill-prepared to participate in the workforce. We’ve found that if a student enters middle school several years behind, by the time they complete the 11th grade, our interventions will have supported them to achieve proficiency and set up to graduate equipped to succeed in college. Several of our middle schools are growing students at a CORE student growth percentile of 87+-- meaning they are significantly outpacing student academic growth of their peers. By meeting students where they are we are able to provide the supports, resources, and interventions necessary to get students on track and prepared for the rigors of college.
At Green Dot, our mission is to prepare all students for college, leadership, and life. Ánimo Compton ensures students long-term success by instilling a college-going culture early and putting all students who are behind on a pathway to close the gap. The school has made college feel more tangible for all its students through its college preparatory curriculum. “We know it starts now, you can’t just expose students to college in high school. They need to know what it takes to get there [in middle school] and they have to be exposed to the endless possibilities that exist for them,” said Karen Mata, Ánimo Compton’s School Operation Manager. To ensure students get that exposure early on, the school’s College and Career counselor regularly hosts workshops and invites representatives from universities to speak about college and answer any questions students may have.
“I want to become a nurse but right now I can’t deal with blood,” chuckled Brianna Coleman, a seventh grade student at Ánimo Compton. Though she is still unsure about her career path, she knows she wants to attend Stanford University after learning about it in school. Ánimo Compton has also supported Coleman's passion for dance. This year with the support of staff she launched Ánimo Compton’s first dance club. “It was fun Friday, the day when the school plays music during lunch and I was dancing with my cousin when I saw other people dancing too. And then I thought, what if we had a program where everyone can dance together?” recalled Coleman.
Students met twice a week and Coleman carefully led them through choreography. “I really love dance, it's my passion, so for my school to help me start this club it felt really amazing.” This support bolstered Coleman’s confidence and provided Coleman and her peers with a positive outlet to explore their interests.
“We are working to ensure that all our students graduate from our school believing in themsevles and are able to go out into the world with the belief that they can live their dreams to the fullest through the avenue of education,” said Chaleese Norman, Ánimo Compton’s founding principal. “Student success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey that begins as soon as a student walks through the doors of Ánimo Compton.” Though their first school year has just ended, Ánimo Compton’s educators and staff are eager to support next year’s new and returning students as they grow and succeed.