In this eUpdate:
SIATech Staff Gather for
Fall Leadership and
Representatives from all SIATech, MYcroSchool, and NEWCorp locations gathered in San Diego last week for Fall Leadership. This important summit provided an opportunity for the schools' leaders to actively participate in conversations about regional and national issues. Since our schools are located across five states, it was a treat to have a chance to meet in-person and not a moment was wasted.
The jam-packed agenda began with a Welcome from Dr. Linda Dawson where she shared the state of the organization. She was followed by a presentation that introduced a new way to tell our organizational story. This messaging provides a cohesive and clear overview of our many offerings and will help SIATech raise funds to better serve its current students and help more out-of-school students get back on-track to graduation. School sites will be receiving printed informational materials to pass along to interested community members. A redesigned website and video will launch in January.
Next, SIATech leaders had the special privilege of hearing from a true pioneer: Dr. Terrence Roberts. Dr. Roberts was one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African American students who bravely integrated Central High School in 1957 and endured unspeakable hostility. "I wanted to quit every minute of every day," he recounted. However, he persevered and went on to earn numerous degrees and accolades. Dr. Roberts spoke to SIATech leadership about moving "Beyond Us vs. Them: An Eye toward a Hopeful Future." It was a thought-provoking session that encouraged us all to increase our self-awareness and unravel misperceptions about others.
Pictured from left to right are: SIATech Treasure Island Principal Khristel Johnson, SIATech Superintendent Linda Dawson, Terrence Roberts, SIATech Graduate Kowser Elmi, and SIATech Little Rock Principal Katie Tatum.
Additional sessions included Covey's Five Choices, charter school governance, and regional breakouts: California, Central, and Florida. It was an excellent, interactive day. Some of the sessions - including Dr. Roberts' presentation - were videotaped and will be available online for all staff to view in the coming weeks.
The 2nd Annual Alternative Accountability Policy Forum was held after Fall Leadership and welcomed approximately 125 educational leaders from 18 states, D.C., and Canada. The forum was a chance for those at the forefront of alternative accountability to gather and discuss metrics, parameters, best practices, and possibilities for schools who serve highly at-risk students. Alternative accountability emphasizes the importance for schools to have their efficacy measured in appropriate and accurate ways. More on the policy forum including session slides and e-handouts can be found on the event website.
^Back to Top
One Approach to Reduce Writing Anxiety from
SIATech Moreno Valley
by Jami Yee
Every Wednesday many students attend the Language Arts workshop at SIATech Moreno Valley Independent Study. This particular week I chose to focus on writing since many of my students were struggling on one or more of the paragraph writing assignments. I wanted to teach them a strategy that would make paragraph writing less "scary" and more approachable.
The workshop first began with a short PowerPoint outlining and defining the necessary elements of a paragraph as described in Modules A, B, and C. Students were then assigned a partner to construct an effective paragraph using color-coded strips. Each set of partners was given a different topic to use for constructing their paragraph.
Each color-coded strip represents a necessary element of a paragraph. Green: topic sentence, yellow: star idea/supporting detail, red: example, blue: transition word/phrase and green: conclusion sentence. These strips assist in making sure that all elements are included in each paragraph.
I enjoy teaching the art of writing using this color-coded model! It's rewarding to watch students experience success in an area that was previously full of frustration. Regardless of the student's age, grade, or level of need, this strategy commonly results in "ah-ha!" moments from students.
Jami Yee is an English instructor for SIATech Moreno Valley.
^Back to Top
SIATech Riverside Independent Study
Events and Celebrations
by Jami Yee, Leebrina Pagdilao, and Jessica Zarate
SIATech Riverside opened three new campuses this fall, and the staff members have been out in the community. By participating in many community events, the schools are letting their presence be known.
On October 31, SIATech Moreno Valley students and teachers, along with ResCare staff members, enjoyed an afternoon of pumpkin carving. Despite the pumpkin guts everywhere, each pumpkin turned out to be a work of art. The decorated pumpkins are a delight to admire and are displayed throughout our Moreno Valley Youth Center.
Staff from the SIATech Perris location also got in the Halloween spirit by running a booth in a Halloween Fair for the Perris Community with our ResCare Partner that hosted the event.
Our booth consisted of an educational game from our English Teacher Kelly Heffern where students had to pick letters and come up with a word using all of the letters selected in order to receive a treat. Families participated in the game helping each other and using the dictionary as a resource, and everyone was a winner.
There were other vendors, a petting zoo, games, and a haunted house. The students worked really hard on developing and designing the haunted house with Teresa Leffard and her team. The SIATech Perris staff went through the haunted house, and some of us closed our eyes or walked behind each other to shield us from the different scary mazes. The students were able to raise over $200 towards their Youth Council through the event.
The SIATech Indio Independent Study team had a wonderful experience going out to the Mecca Health and Wellness event along with two ResCare employees. The school had a lot of walk-ins with people asking us what our school was about and what kind of services we provided. It was great to be able to let them know that SIATech Indio is accepting new students and to get them information on how to enroll.
There was a lot of interest and questions about students who graduate and how they find jobs around the community.
Jessica Zarate acted as the translator of the group and translated to a lot of our Spanish visitors.
The team handed out postcards and other promotional items. We ran out of our postcards by the end of the event and gave away a lot of the items to interested attendees.
Towards the end of the event, Crystal and Jessica went to the podium and spoke about SIATech and the services that we provide as well as the youth center.
Overall a fun event to talk with the community about SIATech and what we do.
Jami Yee, Leebrina Pagdilao, and Jessica Zarate are from Riverside Independent Study sites.
^Back to Top
Gainesville Gets in the Spirit: MYcroSchool and SIATech Gainesville High Schools in Parade
by Joy Baldree
Gerald Zagaiski, better known and loved as "ZAG" keeps a steady flow of recruitment activities coming our way at MYcroSchool Gainesville and SIATech Gainesville.
Pictured from left to right are: ZAG, Joy Baldree, MYcroSchool Gainesville Principal Randy Starling, and SIATech Gainesville Principal Christal Blue.
From trade shows to passing out flyers, there is always an opportunity to "stand up and step out" into the communities that surround our schools and share the excitement of teaching and learning with anyone who will listen. ZAG does this every day.
On November 8th, that opportunity came in at about 70,000 spectators as faculty, staff, and students from both of our Alachua County schools joined in to share the Florida Gator spirit while letting the community know about our MYcroSchool and SIATech programs.
It was a great day for all who attended, filled with laughter, a bucket load of fun, and a message that: "We are here. We are proud and we can help you get a high school diploma."
Watching from the driver's seat, I was able to see the words "MYcroSchool" and "SIATech" read aloud as we passed, witness the squeals when someone recognized Ms. Blue or Mr. Starling, and see quite a few of our graduates in the crowd.
Joy Baldree is the director of education for Florida.
^Back to Top
SIATech Treasure Island Fall Field Trips:
Security Trade Students Visit San Quentin State Prison, Music-Oriented Students Visit Fantasy Studios, and Math/Science Students Hit the Exploratorium
by Kevin Jacks, Don Crouse, and Mike Hoey
On October 23, Job Corps and SIATech joined together and took 22 security cadets on a field-trip to San Quentin State Prison. San Quentin is located in Marin County and overlooks the San Francisco Bay. It is California's oldest prison and opened in 1852 due to the influx of people coming to California during the Gold Rush.
The field trip consisted of a three-hour tour of the entire facility. Lieutenant Sam Robinson, San Quentin's Public Relations Officer, led the informative tour where cadets visited the medical facility, main yard, different tiers of cell blocks, furniture workplace, mess hall, and even California's controversial execution chamber.
Both male and female officers spoke to cadets about the various career opportunities within corrections. Students learned about both the qualifications needed and the pros and cons about working at San Quentin. Over 1,700 staff members are employed at San Quentin with an annual budget of $210 million a year.
Towards the end of tour, a group of inmates who are currently serving lengthy sentences had the opportunity to share their lives before prison and current prison lives. They talked about how the mistakes they made when they were younger took them straight behind the bars of San Quentin. Every inmate had different characteristics and personality, but what they all had in common is that they did not want anyone to repeat the same mistakes they had made before.
The students learned about some notable inmates at the prison. In 1951, inmate Alfredo Santos, also known as the "Diego Rivera of San Quentin," arrived at the prison and painted six murals, each measuring roughly 12 ft. high by 100 ft. long in the prison mess hall. Each mural reflects a populist vision of California History. After his release, Alfredo Santos became a well-known muralist in both New York and his hometown of San Diego. The murals are currently recognized by the Smithsonian.
One fact about San Quentin is that it is the only death row prison in California for male inmates, with over 700 people on death row. Like many prisons, San Quentin is overpopulated. The entire facility is designed to hold 3,082 inmates but currently has a population of 5,256. One participating student wrote, "I liked the tour, and loved learning all the history. I had NO IDEA how small the cells were, and it really does limit your freedom in your semi-personal living space. It made me appreciate my freedom more."
The field trip made a lasting impact on every student. One student commented on his experience on the field trip, "What impacted me the most on this field trip to San Quentin was to cherish my life to the fullest. I learned to always think before I act. Also to choose my friends and the crowd I'm around wisely. I think this trip was a great experience and it opened my mind a lot, about the choices I make every day."
Reflecting on the day, another student said, "I recommend Job Corps to go on this field trip for the future students. The entire experience is explicit and an eye opener. You get to see how you will end up if you choose the wrong path. In life I believe there is the right path or the wrong path. The wrong path leads you to three other roads, prison, the mental hospital, or the graveyard. This experience has made me realize a lot of things I haven't noticed before. I will forever remember this trip."
Kevin Jacks is the social studies teacher at SIATech at Treasure Island Job Corps Center in San Francisco.
SIATech Treasure Island Students
Visit Fantasy Studios in Berkeley
by Don Grose
I recently took a group of 15 students to Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. This world-renown recording studio has been in this location since 1971 and was the home of Credence Clearwater Revival in the 1970s and many other top recording artists throughout the years, including Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Lil Wayne, Iggy Pop, and many others. The studio also records movie soundtracks, sound effects, and voiceovers.
The students were hand-picked for their interest in music and recording. Many are looking at working in a professional recording studio as a possible career choice – and with one so conveniently located, it was a natural choice for a field trip. Our coordinator and guide was Allison Gomer, who started as an intern before landing a full-time job at the studio, her "dream job". Her story inspired our students and really hammered home the reality that such a career was possible. They asked a lot of questions and showed so much interest that a normally 30-minute tour expanded into an hour and 45-minute journey through virtually every room in the studio facility.
Not only was working there an exciting prospect, but so was recording there. Many of our students have a lot of musical talent and have dreams of becoming a recording artist. When Allison told them that the studio has a long history of working with local artists in the Bay Area, students got extremely interested. They asked about hourly rates and took a special interest in some of the hands-on technical aspects that each different studio has to offer – even wanting to know exactly where Lil Wayne stood when he was laying down his vocal tracks.
One of the highlights of the tour was towards the end when students got to walk into the cement-lined echo chambers, the rooms used to record natural reverb. Some of the students began singing and testing out their voices in the room. Kealii Clore, a talented young singer, said, "I don't ever want to leave this room," as she filled the echo chamber with her vocal gymnastics and captured everyone's attention.
All in all, it was an outstanding day – one that surpassed everyone's expectations. I'm hopeful that we'll have more students in the near future who would enjoy such a trip. Who knows, maybe one of these students will be there and be our guide in the coming years.
Don Grose is the English / ELL teacher at SIATech at Treasure Island Job Corps Center in San Francisco.
SIATech Treasure Island Students
Explore the Exploratorium
by Mike Hoey
Last week students from SIATech Treasure Island's math and science classes attended a field trip to the Exploratorium's Pier 15 location.
There were many interesting exhibits to learn from, and all the students who went were very impressed with how much fun the hands-on activities could be.
Malik Riser was able to shake hands with himself with the help of a very large parabolic mirror (shown in photo).
And, Merih Alem and Yonas Abraha worked on flying different satellites on the same simulator.
When asked which exhibit was the most fun, Sandy Mendez replied, "All of them!"
Our group had a great time, and everybody came away with a new perspective about how the world really works!
Mike Hoey is the science instructor at SIATech Treasure Island.
^Back to Top
SIATech Los Angeles at the Disability Fair
by Camille Lara
SIATech Los Angeles was fortunate enough to be part of the Los Angeles Job Corps (LAJCC) Annual Disability Fair this year. The theme this year was "Because We are All EQUAL to the Task."
Pictured are Elizabeth Garcia and Genesis Barillas, two volunteers at our booth.
"Here at LAJCC we are training students with disabilities by providing them with the appropriate accommodations so that they too can become employable workers," welcomed Tenia Penn, LA Job Corps Disability Coordinator.
SIATech Los Angeles provides students enrolled in LA Job Corps an education, so they can get their high school diploma. Students who come to us with an IEP (Individual Educator Plan) or a 504 Plan (refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary or postsecondary schooling) are fully included in the general education classes with Resource Specialist Program Support.
In our school setting, there are students who do receive accommodations in the classroom and there are always questions about whether they will be able to continue to receive accommodations when they go to college. This was a great opportunity to present to the student body the types of support they can receive when they attend college. We also have students who ask our special education department about their family members and inquire on where they can go to get tested to see if they have a learning disability.
The Disability Fair is also a chance to reach out and collaborate with LA Job Corps and the community. Along with our booth, there were community based booths from the Regional Center, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee, LA Job Corps Academic Team, The Mobility Office, and LA Job Corps Office Administrative Committee.
We began with a small committee of students who wanted to volunteer and participate in this year's fair. Students came together and delegated different jobs and gathered various types of information. It was a great opportunity for our students to do research on this topic as they acquired new information while they volunteered.
We created informative packets on the Disability Office, which is where students can go to get tested. We also had packets on all the different types of disabilities such as Learning Disabilities, ADHD/ADD, Physical Disabilities, Medical Disabilities and we spelled out the types of accommodations each disability would be eligible to receive. Our last packet explained the kind of support students with disabilities can receive in college such as scholarships, grants, tutoring, priority enrollment and accommodation in the classroom.
SIATech students put together an informational poster board.
Jesus Arevalo typed out all the different types of disabilities while he learned that there were a lot more disabilities than he was aware of. It brought great discussion with Jesus in regards to the different types of disabilities, such as students who may have a learning disability versus students who have physical disabilities.
Michelle Alvarez helped by cutting out all of our papers, gluing them and putting them on our board. She asked many questions on where students go when they need to get tested for a disability or where do students take their 504 Plan once they are enrolled in college. I used this opportunity to educate her during this process. She learned that any student can go to the "Office of Disabilities" and any student can request testing if they feel they have any type of disability. She also learned that all colleges have a "Disability Office."
Rose Moran volunteered in the Disability Fair. She was very eager to educate all students and staff on the types of disabilities and accommodations students can receive in college. At the end of her conversation, she would ask students if they would like a prize. Of course, all students' responses were, "YES."
Tanesha Tillman was another volunteer at our booth. She is very shy, but she wanted to be part of this event. At the beginning of the fair, she stated that she was not a talkative person, but she was willing to ask students questions, so they can win a SIATech prize. By the end of our four-hour fair, she was interacting with her peers and educating them on the types of accommodations students can receive in college. This opportunity not only educated her, but it brought her closer to her peers and staff. She was very surprised with herself, but I believe when it comes to empowering students, it also empowers yourself!
Elizabeth Garcia and Genesis Barillas were also volunteers at our booth. The two girls were very excited and eager to participate. They both were so excited that they took home our informational packets and read them on their own time. Elizabeth stated that she learned that there are scholarships and grants if you have an accommodation plan. What she liked about volunteering is that she was able to inform people that you can still get help if you have any type of disability in college. She said she really liked volunteering! Genesis stated she liked volunteering because she was able to inform her peers.
Overall, it was a great turn out. Many students and staff visited our booth and left with SIATech goodies and informational packets on disabilities. After our disability fair, the students who volunteered at the booth thanked me for allowing them to volunteer and they were all grateful for this opportunity to be able to empower their fellow peers.
Camille Lara is the Resource Specialist / Special Education Teacher at SIATech Charter High School at Los Angeles Job Corps Center.
^Back to Top
SIATech El Centro Student Council
by Juan Venegas
On October 25, SIATech El Centro Independent Study High School had its first Student Council meeting.
As part of Student Council we learned about SIATech's values of Integrity, Learning, Respect, and Service. We also learned more about each other, including the teachers.
It was a productive first meeting followed by an orientation for new students. As the members of Student Council, we volunteered to help the teachers to introduce the school from a student's point of view.
It looks like a positive future for SIATech El Centro Student Council. Even if I could choose the members, I wouldn't be able to pick a better group.
Pictured left to right: Itzel Aguilar, Yearbook/Newsletter Committee Member; Juan Venegas, Yearbook/Newsletter Committee Chair; Jose Servin, Co-Vice President; Michaelangelo Smith, President; Alexia Pradis, Secretary; Juan Andazola, Student Council Representative; Cristina Lopez-Serrano, Publicity Coordinator; Carlos Robles, Co-Vice President (Not Pictured).
Juan Venegas is the yearbook / newsletter committee chair for the Student Council.
^Back to Top
MYcroSchool Gainesville Holiday Food Drive
by John Fuller
MYcroSchool Gainesville student Khadijah Cooper saw a commercial for Alachua County's "Strike Out Hunger" food drive and wanted to help out the Gainesville community. She asked Mr. Fuller and Mr. Starling for permission to make flyers to post around school asking for donations.
Khadijah made a donation box to sit up front to remind students and teachers alike to bring in the donations. Khadijah even offered to take all of the donations to the drop-off site on her own time. Way to go Khadijah!
John Fuller is the English teacher for MYcroSchool Gainesville.
^Back to Top
SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute Student Thrives with Supportive Teachers and Mentors
by Jake Gordon
SIATech Pico-Union Charter High School at Youth Policy Institute is filled with students that have drive, determination, and a wealth of supportive people in their lives to ensure they are successful in school.
Hazel is an example of a SIATech Pico-Union student that illustrates these characteristics well. She recently shared what motivates her to be successful. Many SIATech Pico-Union students have a supportive family that provides them inspiration to achieve.
Hazel attributes a large part of her success to her father. She explains, "I wouldn't be in the position that I am now without the help of my Dad. He was always there for me. He is always pushing, even to this day, to try my best in school and to get the highest scores possible on every test I take. He always attends parent teacher meetings. He is always checking up on me. I probably would have already quit school by now if it wasn't for my Dad."
Hazel also is very thankful to her mother and older sister that have kept her on track in life and in school. Hazel reflects on their support, "My mom and my sister always check up on me as well. My mom can tell when I don't want to go to school on a certain day or I am not telling the entire truth about my school performance. My mom is always making sure I'm doing my best and I thank her so much for that."
Hazel also gets help with her homework from her older sister who is in college. Hazel states, "My older sister helps me with my math homework. She's a college student at Cal State Dominguez Hills, majoring in Biology and wants to be a medical doctor. She is very helpful to my success in school and I'm very thankful for that."
When I asked Hazel what she liked best about SIATech Pico-Union she said, "I really enjoy the Women's Workshop in the afternoons because we can talk about issues that are only discussed with a women's group. It's a very helpful class for me to share things."
Hazel explained how SIATech classes and teachers are making a difference for her: "I also like how our SIATech classes are at your own pace and I appreciate that. The SIATech teachers really help you understand the material and will not move forward if you don't understand the material. I need people to encourage me and I get that from SIATech teachers."
Hazel enjoys being artistic particularly with design in her spare time. "I used to like drawing but then I stopped. Now I like re-organizing my room and thinking of interior design as a career. I like interior design because seeing what a space could be like and being creative with the space. Some people can't see what the space has the capacity to be but I do and enjoy designing a completely empty space. I also have an interest in wedding planning and fashion design."
Hazel has the best attendance of all her peers at the school site and has not missed a single day of school since she enrolled during the summer!
SIATech congratulates Hazel and her family for all of her hard work and dedication towards completing her High School Diploma.
Dr. Jake Gordon is the principal of SIATech at Los Angeles Job Corps and of SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute.
^Back to Top
SIATech San Jose Students Get Some Culture at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival
A group of San Jose SIATech students attended the Silicon Valley African Film Festival and created a mini-festival of our own. Feeling that a cultural gap needed to be filled, we banded together to have our own foreign film festival leading up to the one in Silicon Valley.
Watching movies that ranged from comedy to social/political commentary—sampling themes of prejudice, isolation, adversity, and conviction—our in-house foreign film festival (complete with snacks and drinks) was a nice and enriching break from the norm.
As a part of our exploration of different places and cultures, we did a map activity that highlighted economic inequality around the world as manifested by nutrition, health, literacy, life expectancy, child labor, war, carbon emissions, etc.
When our festival project came to a close we went to the actual African film festival. We were excited to find diverse movie goers from university professors to directors who were delighted to converse about opinions and backgrounds.
We watched two very good films, one called "The Children's Republic," a film starring Danny Glover about a group of children who flee a violent land and find a city devoid of violence and chaos… or adults. The second film, called "The Pardon," revolved around two friends torn apart by their Rwandan environment and what they and their warring tribes would have to do to overcome the cycle of deep-rooted prejudice and division.
Luckily for us, the festival had many authentic food and jewelry / clothing vendors. The event was a lot of fun. We shopped and ate. We laughed, we bonded. More importantly, the event was culturally satisfying as it got us out of the classroom and beautifully illustrated the world we live in.
Yohannes Zecharias is a student at SIATech San Jose.
^Back to Top
SIATech Little Rock Reaches Out to the Community
by Wendy Bryant
The SIATech Charter High School team in Little Rock, Arkansas, has spent time spreading the word about the opening of the school's new location. Since September, the Little Rock SIATech team has attended six "spread the word" opportunities.
The outreach efforts range from speaking at local churches to attending community unity rallies. The SIATech Little Rock team is excited about the turn out from publicity. The issue of out-of-school youth is prevalent and nearly every family has been touched by the dropout crisis in some way.
Our team plans to continue to let families know about our new Little Rock campus and be connected with several community outreach events in the spring.
Students and families interested in SIATech Little Rock or any of the SIATech campuses can request more information through our Student Interest Form.
Wendy Bryant is a teacher at SIATech Little Rock Charter High School.
^Back to Top
Student Work to be Featured at
San Francisco's Asian Art Museum
by Patricia Mott
A group of ten students from SIATech Treasure Island were given the opportunity to do an art project for the Asian Art Museum.
Ms. Patricia Mott, the Resource Room teacher for SIATech Treasure Island, scheduled a free art teacher from the museum to come and offer the students the chance to be a part of a student art project.
The students were asked to create pop-up type books that detailed a memorable moment in their lives. With materials and guidance from an art teacher with the museum the students created creative and beautiful books. Each student did a great job on their project and was excited to be a part of this opportunity.
The student's work will be shown at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and students will be given free tickets to see their work on display! We look forward to sharing more information when the students go to the museum and see their projects.
Patricia Mott is the Special Education teacher for SIATech Treasure Island.
^Back to Top
Follow SIATech on Twitter and SIATech on Facebook.
Submit news to email@example.com.