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Caps in the Air at Main Street High/ Mavericks Graduation

2017 Graduation

On Friday, June 2, the 201 graduates of Main Street High/Mavericks in Kissimmee, FL; as well as family, and friends were the beneficiaries of a powerful and inspirational address by school alum – Christian Sanchez.  His candid assessment of his life, prior to attending Main Street High, and how he has influenced by the school’s teachers and staff, is a strong testament to the work being done in Florida, and in all of our Bridgescape Academies. 

The following is the text of Christian’s remarks to the graduates.

When I arrived at Main Street High, my life changed. I went from being a lost, punk kid, to a young man with hope for a successful and happy future. I grew up being labeled a troublemaker, being told I’d never succeed. But I’ve learned that nothing is impossible and that God has a purpose for each of our lives.

As a young teenager, I used to roam around Kissimmee with groups of friends, doing nothing productive, wondering what my purpose in life was. I first arrived at this school with a 1.8 GPA, 8 or 9 credits, and even a criminal background. I was 15 years old . . .  My previous school asked me to leave, because of a pending felony charge. I was a depressed teenager and I felt like a failure, like a lost cause—I felt like a reject.

But then something happened… I came to Main Street High looking for a second chance at life. I had recently given my life to Christ at the age of 15, and I was determined to prove the world wrong, that I was no longer a lost cause—and that even a punk kid like me, with a bit of low self-esteem and a weird personality; even a punk kid like me could become a world changer, so help me God. And Main Street High did give me a second chance.

Main Street High is unique. This school gave me a clean slate and opportunities that no one else would give me. The faculty never saw me as just another number; they showed love to me and never judged me for my past. I felt like family here. I could walk into the guidance counselor’s office at any time, Ms. Heather Greene at the time, and bug her to death for anything I needed. And I knew without a doubt that if I needed help with a class, I could just go to Blue Room and bug Mr. Bodner. I knew for sure that he would teach me anything I needed to learn. I thank God for bringing me to this school, where a punk kid like me could find hope for the future, and a new beginning.

Here’s some of what the school allowed me to achieve: In my first year at Main Street High, I finished 11 classes. I went from troublemaker to honor-roll student. This school put me through the dual enrollment program, where my first semester of college was paid in full. I went from arriving at Main Street High with 9 credits, a 1.8 GPA, and a criminal background at 15 years old, to graduating from Main Street High with a 3.5 GPA with honors, and some college credits just before I turned 17. No one else believed in me, but Main Street High did.

This alone was a miracle to me. But it wasn’t just about graduating high school; Main Street High opened doors for me even after graduation. This school opened doors for the future. I went on to join the honors program at Valencia College, for a full scholarship towards my Associates Degree, and was also involved in Student Government, and an academic honors society. Just after graduating from Main Street High, I completed a summer internship with a local congressman, despite my earlier juvenile record. Within a year of graduating from Main Street High, I received personal recognition from the Governor of Florida. In a televised press release at Valencia, the Governor shared some of my story. I went on to obtain my Associates Degree with honors and a 4.0 GPA. I also gained a transfer scholarship to Harvard University’s Extension School where I’m currently enrolled and finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I’m studying government and finance, and I’m pursuing law school and my own investment firm in the near future.

It still blows my mind that a young kid with my background would even be considered for the opportunities I’ve been given, much of which I owe to Main Street High. But school is just one part of my story. . . Ever since my life changed when I was 15, I’ve been involved in the youth ministry at The Rock Church. The people here have showed me love and guidance throughout my journey, and even when the world called me a reject, this church treated me like a son. I’m 19 now and I know that nothing is impossible with God.

No matter where we’ve come from, what mistakes we’ve made, I know God has a plan and a purpose for us.

 

On June 6, 112 graduates received their high school diplomas from Palm Beach Central High/Mavericks; and on June 7, another 91 graduates will receive their diplomas from North Miami Mavericks.

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'Kids don't hate math; they hate being frustrated'

Helping Students Succeed at Math

Entering high school math can bring up anxiety for both the student and the parent. Algebra, geometry, trigonometry — the course titles are the same, but believe it or not, the way these classes are now taught in school can look a lot different from what you might remember. Here are a few ways to prepare yourself — and, more importantly, your student — for a successful school year:

The best way to support your student as he transitions to these upper-level math courses is to keep an open dialogue with him about it.

"When Common Core came in, it shifted the focus to include an understanding of everything," said Amy Lee Kinder, who has worked as a math specialist at the Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park. "It's more about the process to get there. That's very foreign to how people were taught in the past. It's more about investigative learning and students going through a scenario and understanding a concept completely." 

Kinder said students are now asked, "Why do you think that?" and, "Where does that come from?" They are required to explain how they came to the answer, instead of just spitting out a number.

A great way to prepare your student for the classroom is by asking the same types of questions at home.

"Question, question, question," Kinder said. "Stay involved, as hard as it may be. From the teacher's perspective, it takes a team of people to assist these kids, and support outside the classroom is huge."

If your student is nervous about a new math class, try building up his confidence by revisiting basic concepts, such as addition, subtraction and fractions.

"The issues kids face in algebra aren't necessarily about algebra, but a lack of understanding about what a fraction is — things that precede that higher-level class," said Mark Kriston, owner of two Mathnasium learning centers in Chicago.

It's always good to know when to ask for help. And with more difficult courses that build upon previous concepts, it's probably best for your student to get help sooner, rather than later, if he needs it.

"We don't get calls for tutoring until October or November," Reber said. "That's usually when they've had their first hard test."

But Kinder, who also works as a private math tutor, cautioned: "Once a kid gets behind, it's way harder for them to get caught up." She suggests going over the syllabus with your child as soon as school starts. She said students should be presented with a calendar of what's going to be expected of the class; some teachers will post this information online.

"The more proactive parents can be about getting involved, the better," she said.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/parenting/sc-back-to-school-math-family-0830-20160824-story.html

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EdisonLearning Enhances Alternative and Virtual Education Solutions with Innovative Project-Based Learning Curriculum

Bridgescape Learning Providing a Path to Graduation

EdisonLearning, the leading international educational solutions provider, is enhancing its alternative and virtual education solutions with the addition of a new project-based learning curriculum.  This initiative is being advanced in partnership with Global Learning Models (GLM), and the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) – a regional educational service agency in Pennsylvania serving 24 member school districts.

With the 2016-17 school year, project-based learning curriculum, developed by Global Learning Models (GLM), will be incorporated with EdisonLearning’s eCourses and utilized throughout its partnership school network to help students capitalize on their own strengths, learning styles, and interests by applying them to coursework.

“This new project-based learning curriculum highlights our sincere belief that it is only through collaborative partnerships that we will advance the goals of education – specifically in raising academic achievement and preparing students for college and a career,” said Thom Jackson, EdisonLearning’s President and CEO.  “Both Global Learning Models and CAIU are among the most competent and committed working in education today, and we are proud to have them as our partners.”

In addition, EdisonLearning is re-establishing the original brand name to its alternative learning program that provides an effective and personalized educational option for those students who want to graduate from high school. Bridgescape Learning Academies have, since their inception in 2010, awarded 2,000 at-risk and dropped-out high school students their high school diplomas.

“With as many as one quarter of our students not finishing high school,” said Mr. Jackson, “Bridgescape Learning Academies continue to advance our belief that every student – given the right tools, support and environment – is capable of exceeding their expectations, and complete their high school education, giving them the ability to continue onto college, attend vocational school, or enter the workforce.”

As result of a 2011 strategic alliance with Magic Johnson Enterprises, Bridgescape Centers were re-branded as Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. “We are honored to have partnered with Mr. Earvin Johnson, who helped to increase public visibility of the Bridgescape program, and boost public awareness of the dropout crisis in our country,” said Mr. Jackson.

Bridgescape Learning Academies are designed for high school-age students who have already left school, or who are at risk of leaving, and want to earn a standard high school diploma. Unlike a traditional school setting, the Bridgescape program is a blend of one-on-one and group instruction, which will now be infused with the new project-based learning interactive offerings specifically tailored for each individual student.

Bridgescape Learning Academies in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Norfolk, Durham, and Bridgeton, NJ helped more than 2,200 high school dropouts and at risk students during the current school year complete their education, earn their diplomas, and prepare to enter college or receive the necessary credentials to get a job upon graduation.  New Bridgescape Learning Academies will be opening this year in Dayton, Ohio and Gary, Indiana.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of students, who enroll in Bridgescape, complete the program and earn their diploma - which is higher than the national graduation rate for all schools.

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Memorial Day 2016

Thom Jackson on the Significance of Memorial Day

The holiday we celebrate this coming Monday had its origin at a time when the United States was still very much a divided country.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, “Decoration Day”- as it was originally called - was observed in only the northern states. Union veterans’ organizations called for the decoration of only the graves of those who fought and died for the Union.  Not until after World War 1 was “Memorial Day” designated to honor Americans who died fighting in all of our wars.

Throughout the one hundred and fifty-one years since the United States was reunited into one common country, we have strived to eliminate any fragments of being separate and unequal in all aspects of American society.  During this time, there have been a number of seminal events that reshaped the social and political fabric of America.  Most are not as well-known today as they were at the time they occurred.  Many have not even been mentioned in history textbooks.  Yet, they were significant as to how they forced America to look at itself; and define freedom, equality, and our way of life.

One such event took place sixty-two years ago this month, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended legalized racial segregation in all American schools.  The impact of the following words – “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” - resonated far beyond the classroom as it provided impetus and momentum for the Civil Rights Movement, and the later passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the ensuing years, our nation should be able to stand together proudly and marvel at all that has been accomplished to break down barriers to ensure that ALL our children have an opportunity to be participants in today's knowledge economy.  Yet in truth, the pages of history have been turned back, and what is old, is now new again.

In addition to voluminous studies and reports citing growing disparities in the achievement gap, school funding, and disciplinary actions relating to Black and minority students in comparison to their white peers – the following headline appeared last week in news outlets throughout the county:

“Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education.”

As an organization fully committed to improving the achievement outcomes of all students, we are all too aware that many public education systems around the country provide fewer resources to schools serving low-income and disadvantaged students.  We also know that strong preconceptions exist that due to some students’ socio-economic circumstances; it is assumed that they will not finish school, will not find a decent job, and will never go to college.

Our Vision and Mission is in many ways linked to the precepts established by Brown v Board of Education, as our work is committed to ensuring equal educational opportunities for all children.  So it is essential for all of us to understand that this commitment is not simply a collection of words for marketing purposes.  It is who we are, and what we stand for.  Therefore, even in the course of our hectic daily workplace activities, we cannot lose sight of the role we play in positively impacting the lives and futures of thousands of young people.

Consider as we honor and commemorate the more than 1.3 million Americans who paid the ultimate price fighting for our country; that there is no racial designation or income status noted on their grave markers.  At the moment they were giving the last full measure of devotion to their country – there was no “Separate” – there was no “Unequal” - just “Americans”.

Together, we are a piece of thread in the massive fabric which is America.  Let us do all we can to eliminate “Separate” and “Unequal” from the educational lexicon; and in doing so, honor those who gave their all to guarantee the founding principle of our nation that “All Men Are Created Equal”.

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EdisonLearning Children Come to Work

Take Your Child to Work Day

 

Children ranging in age from 1 to 15 came to work yesterday with their parents as part of EdisonLearning’s annual “Take Your Child to Work Day.”

In the Pittsburgh office: Carol Smialek was joined by Izabella; Mark MacWhinney by Julia; Ken Barth was joined by Juliette; and Michael Trosan was joined by Julia and Gianna.

In Jersey City: Archie Ford was joined by Kamari and Aurielle; Jacqueline Galvan was joined by Gerald and Elijah; Tanya Hooks by Taylor; and Nicole LaFortune by Sean.  And in the Knoxville office, Paula Asbury was joined by EJ.

In addition to spending a special day at their parents’ workplace, the children participated in various project activities – including a unique eCourse program, and had a Skype video conversation with Thom Jackson during the lunch break.

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