Briya English teacher wins 2017 teacher excellence award

Judy Kittleson, one of Briya’s English teachers, was awarded the 2017 TIERific Teacher Excellence Award by the Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), which oversees all charter schools in the District. She was honored at a ceremony on December 11, 2017.

This award recognizes an outstanding DC public charter school teacher who demonstrates dedication, excellence, and care to their students and school.

Judy speaks at awards ceremonyKittleson has been teaching ESL to adults for 25 years, and 12 of those years have been at Briya. In addition to teaching English, she teaches parenting classes, mentors new teachers, and works one-on-one with students in Briya’s National External Diploma Program, which she was instrumental in bringing to the school.

“I went into teaching because it uses my whole self—my intellect, my creativity, my personality, my sense of humor—and teaching English language learners feeds my curiosity about cultures, my love of language, and my desire to work for social justice,” she said.

During the ceremony, Kittleson gave a speech in which she mentioned her experiences teaching at Briya, described how she connects with her students, and offered advice to school administrators. “By knowing our students’ experiences, we connect new information with what matters to them,” she said.

Kittleson is a committed, extraordinary, and creative teacher. Judy is one of the best teachers I have ever had,” said Rebeca, one of her students. “I can ask her anything, whether it has to do with academics or something personal. If there is a vocabulary word that we don’t know, she acts out the word until we understand what it means.”

Kittleson also supports her students in expanding their goals. “I wanted to learn English but I never thought of going beyond that,” said Anabel, another of her students. With her help, I have been able to have a more ample vision, including going to college.”

Fourth class of medical assistant graduates celebrate accomplishments

“It is a privilege to be standing here tonight with you all celebrating our successes,” Enwet Abebe said, addressing her 19 fellow Medical Assistant Program graduates at a ceremony this December.

“Our class was full of intensive work and fun,” Abebe, the class valedictorian, continued. “Do you remember what we felt during the practice sessions when we began giving injections, drawing blood or even taking vitals and patient histories? There were all kinds of feelings including excitement, nervousness, frustration and more, but we did it well and now it is our daily job.”

Valedictorian giving her speech

Briya’s program, which was begun in 2013 and is offered in partnership with Mary’s Center, prepares students to pass the nationally recognized medical assistant exam and go on to stable careers in doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals.

At the time of the graduation, 12 of the 20 graduates, including Abebe, had already been offered jobs as medical assistants.

“It makes a difference when you apply for jobs and say you are from Briya,” Abebe said. “I have found that everywhere I go, they like the Briya students, which makes me feel like I am from a wonderful school.”

During the ceremony, students were recognized for their outstanding achievements—including those who graduated with high honors and those who had perfect attendance.

Abebe left her classmates with words of encouragement as she concluded her speech.

“Fellow graduates, we should feel proud of ourselves for being successful and passing all those challenges,” she said. “This is the starting point of our dreams, and I wish you all the best in achieving them. It is challenging, but we don’t have to be perfect. We just have to be willing to learn.”