After a very challenging but successful 2020, we continued to adapt in 2021 to the new normal that had initially kept us in distance learning and the ultimate return of our more than 13,000 students to the classroom. Through lessons learned, we kept in touch with our communities, continued to bridge academic underperformance and promoted equality through initiatives all through our network. Taking advantage of many new virtual tools, we continued our programs to help students thrive on their journey to success in college, leadership, and life.
We also celebrated the success of our students, several of whom were admitted to colleges they could only dream of. As we start 2022, we are proud to share how schools, students and teachers inspired us in 2021.
The Road to success
There are many factors that can adversely impact student success and lead to student dropout rates and inhibited social mobility, including low academic performance, learning gaps, socioemotional distress, and lack of encouragement.
Empowering our communities
In the fall, more than 1000 parents, students, and community members gathered virtually with public officials for the 7th annual United Parents and Students Assembly, Together We Rise: A Vision for Change. The virtual assembly was a space for community members to address top Los Angeles elected officials on the issues that affect quality of life for children and families.
While we strive to create a more equitable educational system, there are systemic barriers that must be dismantled to ensure the success of our students. We understand that in order for our students to be successful, we need to build programs and platforms that dismantle the systems that perpetuate deficit-based thinking about Black students and affirm their cultural identities and assets. In 2017, we developed an African American Achievement and Equity committee to ensure that all students have the necessary resources to be successful in college, leadership, and life.
Innovation in distance learning
When school districts around the nation shifted to distance learning, we had to reimagine our learning environments. Our school leadership teams and curriculum specialists collaborated with our teachers to develop innovative practices and approaches to support students in achieving subject mastery. In a remote learning environment. And as a network, we’ve made a swift commitment to narrow the digital divide for our students by providing all of our students with laptops and wireless hotspots.
College prep starts early
At Ánimo Ellen Ochoa Charter Middle School (AEO), the road to college begins early. Through a dual enrollment partnership with East Los Angeles College (ELAC), AEO is helping students create a path to success that includes taking college courses before they even reach their first year of high school.
The Department of Education reported that over 7 million students — nearly 1 and 6 pupils across the nation — missed at least 15 days of school during the 2015-16 school year. Missing at least 10 percent of instruction days offered puts students at risk for chronic absenteeism. And without interventions, chronically absent students are more likely to perform below grade level, fail courses, and drop out of school.
Last spring, Bluff City High School in Memphis, celebrated our first graduating class. This event signified the ending of a special era and the beginning of a new adventure. “To be a part of Bluff City’s first graduating class is such an honor,” said Darryl Buchanan, newly minted Bluff City alumnus.
Thriving and motivated educators
Teachers play a key role in our lives, not only do they educate us, but they often help us discover our passions and carve a path towards our dreams and aspirations. For Angelina Mendez, a Bluff City High School math teacher, the teachers in her own life inspired her decision to enter the classroom.
Justin Dinnall, a math teacher at Kirby Middle School, will never forget the impact his own high school math teacher had on his life and career trajectory. “He was the second black male teacher I ever had and I felt connected with him in a way that allowed me to take school more seriously and allowed me to see myself as intelligent. He made me feel like I could be a mathematician,” said Dinnall.
No dream is too big
Despite a turbulent junior and senior year impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Antonio Preciado was Ivy-bound, planning to study political science at Stanford University in fall 2021. While Preciado prepares to embark on a new journey 350 miles away from home, he has taken a moment to look back at how his high school experience at Ánimo Inglewood propelled him to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world .
Leveling the field
Senior Bridge Prepares Rising Locke Seniors for College Apps
For nearly five years, our unique Senior Bridge program has helped Green Dot rising seniors successfully navigate the college admission process. Particularly at Locke College Preparatory Academy, Senior Bridge became the culmination of academic growth and realization of potential for one eager student., Jacqueline Torres.