Aya Takidin entered C.G. Bethel High School in North Miami this year after a period of challenging circumstances. In the short time she has been at C.G. Bethel, as Principal Alex Madrigal says, “Aya has been an exceptional addition to our student population … and is determined to make a difference.”
Born in Damascus, Syria, Aya came to the United States with her family in 2012, and during the past few years, her academic work had suffered due to some unforeseen family circumstances, that were out of her control.
Since enrolling at C.G. Bethel in late August, Aya has been able to take full advantage of the school's self-paced digital curriculum. She has attended double sessions, has currently completed 6.5 credits, has increased her GPA to 3.3, and is on pace to graduate. As Principal Madrigal states, “Aya, and has put forth an incredible effort.”
In addition to her tremendous progress in academics, Aya has also been extremely busy in promoting different charitable endeavors at school and the community. During winter break she will be traveling to Lebanon to perform charity work with Alphabet for Alternative Education, a group based out of her home country Syria.
However, Aya’s passion to make a difference goes even further. She has created a “Go Fund Me” account to raise money for young Syrian refugees, who have suffered from the horrible upheaval that has gripped the country over the past years. Aya will be donating all the proceeds to improve the education and living conditions of the children living in the camps.
If you are interested in supporting Aya’s efforts on behalf of Syrian children, you are encouraged to visit the Go Fund Me account at the link below.
The United States is the most diverse country on the face of the earth, and the vast majority of Americans embrace and benefit from a society made up of different races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and political opinions.
However, there are some who do not embrace the diversity that has long symbolized the United States as the “great melting pot”, and this fact was further evidenced this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
At an event which was billed as “the largest assembly of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members in more than 50 years,” a thirty-two-year-old woman was killed, and 19 others injured, when a car - driven by a self-identified white nationalist - plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.
It has become increasingly evident that the United States is a politically divided country. Regardless, we need to make sure that whatever we think politically, we clearly and loudly condemn any ideology that espouses bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and violence.
As an education company, we have an even more significant role to play in combating hatred and intolerance.
Educators teach far beyond textbooks and lesson plans. They teach by example, by the tone and words they choose, by how they treat others during moments of disagreement or tension.
From day one, and amplified by our 9 Core Values, EdisonLearning has advanced the belief that a school climate must encourage inclusion, promote tolerance, and embrace diversity. We know that a positive school climate reduces conflicts, harassment, bullying and violence -making schools safer and more inclusive. We also know that school climate fosters social and civic development while gradually bolstering student academic performance.
Bias is learned early, usually at home. When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime, and hate today wears many faces.
Through education and proper school climate, children can learn, as Dr. King said, “to judge people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The United States has come too far in outlawing discrimination on many fronts over the past century to allow the proponents of hate and intolerance to poison American society. Therefore, we each must remain vigilant, rise up against it - in greater numbers and with stronger voices.
EdisonLearning UK’s partner, Kingsthorpe College, is again planning a seven day return visit to the Chicago-area, to expand and develop the discoveries made during our visit in 2016 with the new cohort of Year 12 Take Flight students. Their itinerary would include: a visit to an elementary school, an inner-city main stream high school, and a university (such as Loyola University). They also plan to re-visit Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, and the Chicago-area Bridgescape Academies.
The trip is intended to continue the links, both cultural and educational, between Kingsthorpe College and its U.S. partner schools, as well as further develop an understanding of the different education systems in both countries. While in 2016, the UK students were able to learn a great deal about the education system in America, the students felt that they would like to know more about the transition to and from high school and the process of achieving a high school diploma.
The UK students have also continued to develop the Social Justice project they began at TRCCA and would like to be able to continue and develop this further – the issue they chose, healthcare, will continue to be high profile especially in light of recent political changes.
Travelling to Chicago offers a unique and exceptional opportunity for the Kingsthorpe students to experience America, its culture and education system and politics, as well as allowing them to share their own cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences. There is no doubt that the students who were part of Take Flight this year have benefitted hugely from it and the circulation of information about the trip to the students of Kingsthorpe College has been well received.
The photo is of the Kingsthorpe College students who will participate on this year’s Project Take Flight. It was taken at a recent fund raising ball to help finance the trip. The students are (left to right): Corey Churchman, Conor Cotter, Abbie Coleman - Deputy Director of English at Kingsthorpe College, Northampton, and Harvey Gaskill. Seated (left to right) are: Olivia Boyce and Abigail Medland.
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.
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.