On September 8, a new Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy will open to students in Chicago Brainerd neighborhood (above). This new center will mark the fifth MJBA location in the city, and bring the total number of students earning their high school diplomas in the program to 1,000 students. During the recently completed school year, more than 100 students received their diplomas, and the Chicago-area MJBAs had a graduation rate of 80%.
In addition to the learning centers being readied for the students, the education teams for all five of the Chicago MJBAs participated in a unique professional development initiative earlier this week. They are piloting a program called WhyTry, which utilizes a series of ten visual metaphors to teach social, emotional, and leadership principles. It is a multi-sensory approach designed to build resiliency and relationships.
The program directors, guidance counselors and teachers participated in two days of interactive, high energy and robust training with a really facilitator from the WhyTry organization. In the future, the MJBA staff will serve as the implementation experts for the pilot this year, and serve as the project leaders at each of their individual sites.
If her family life had collapsed in another state, Makkedah Cutshall might still be in foster care. Rent, utility payments and grocery bills wouldn’t yet be causing her anxiety. “That would be real helpful,” said Cutshall, who aged out of foster care last year at 18. “I’d maybe have a chance to save.”
She has been working with advocates to urge passage of a bill to extend foster-care programs in Ohio to age 21, a change that would offer three more years of assistance to some of the state’s most vulnerable youths. Supporters had hoped that the bill, which also includes “bill of rights” provisions for wards in guardianship cases, would be approved along with the biennial budget. Now, they’re aiming for action yet this year.
“What’s sad, or perhaps moving, is how many foster teens who have aged out are active in this campaign,” said Mark Mecum, executive director of the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies.
"It’s frustrating to get emails from children who ask, 'Has this passed yet? How can I help?'"
Between 1,000 and 1,300 foster youths leave Ohio’s system each year after they turn 18. Staggering numbers of them soon experience homelessness, or become parents, or fall into the justice system.
About 26 states, along with Washington, D.C., already have extended foster care to 21 or are in the process of passing legislation to do so, Mecum said.
The 2016 startup cost for an extended foster-care program would mean about $550,000 in state money next year, then up to $9.7 million in 2017, depending on whether the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has it fully or partly implemented by then. Up to $14.8 million in federal foster-care money also would be budgeted for the program in 2017, for a total of about $24.5 million in state and federal funds that year.
Cutshall, now 19, is just trying to figure out how she can get far enough ahead to thrive. She shares a tidy, spare Reynoldsburg apartment with a roommate and dreams of having a car someday. For now, she rides her bicycle to the bus stop and then faces a two-hour bus trip (including transfers) to her minimum-wage job on the North Side.
“I’m trying not to let myself get down,” she said. “But I would still be with my foster mom if I could.”
The Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Bridgeton, New Jersey presented diplomas to its graduating seniors last Thursday evening, concluding the graduation season for EdisonLearning’s partnership schools. More than 340 students have received their high school diplomas this year from Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in five states – with the total number of graduates from all partnership schools exceeding 600.
Elijah Thompson (second from left in photo) was recognized with the High Honors award for earning the highest GPA in the senior class. Elijah has a unique talent for writing, and is a published author for his poetry which can be found in the Patterson Literacy Review, titled, “I want to be just Like You.” As he has stated, “The only challenge we ever face is the challenge of believing in ourselves.” Elijah now is a believer that he can accomplish his goals, he just has to find the correct path to follow. Elijah plans to attend Cumberland County College in the fall to study Philosophy and Religion.
COLUMBIA, SC – “In life, it’s not only important to get started, but to finish what we started, and how we finish is critical to our success.” These words were spoken to the 2015 graduation class of Provost Academy South Carolina – an EdisonLearning partnership school.
Sitting amongst those graduates was living proof, senior Larissa Brown. "During my senior year, I struggled with losing my mother and my father." Brown said.
Larissa transferred to PASC, a tuition-free and state-authorized online high school months before graduation and attended classes at the Columbia Campus, which is an extension of Provost’s online school, and provides students with additional hands-on academic assistance in their daily studies. Students who attend have the opportunity to complete their course work on-site in a computer lab with the assistance of instructors, and receive character education and career training through Provost’s guidance counselors.
“After losing both of my parents, I knew that I would need the support and minimum distractions. The teachers were not as supportive or encouraging at my old school. Provost Academy accepted all of my credits and my teachers motivated me to finish even when I felt like giving up. I needed that most during my senior year." Brown said.
Now as a Provost Academy graduate, Larissa will soon enlist in the United State Navy as a Mass Communications Specialist to pursue Naval Arts & Photography.
During the ongoing graduation season, the commencement ceremonies held in recent days at Provost Academy Colorado, Provost Academy Ohio, and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Cincinnati and Cleveland; now bring the total number of students graduating this year from EdisonLearning partnership schools to 500. The final graduation ceremony for the year will be held at the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Bridgeton, New Jersey next month.
Provost Academy Colorado presented diplomas to 43 graduates, who completed their high school education at the fully-online statewide school. Among the graduates were the school’s members of the National Honor Society: Zane Burton, Taylor Confer, Bianca Hinchley, Gabrielle Tolman, Shannon Ward, and Molly Webb.
Provost Academy Ohio held graduation ceremonies yesterday (photos above), and conferred diplomas to 14 graduates. Also yesterday, the four Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Cleveland presented diplomas to 66 graduates; and the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Cincinnati presented diplomas to 21 graduates last weekend.
Since the inception of the Magic Johnson Bridgescape program, the total number of “non-graduates” who are now high school graduates is more than 1,000.