Briya in New America Report!

New America Report highlights successful dual language learner strategies in DC

A recent report from the New America Foundation focuses on DC policies and programs, including Briya, that excel at supporting young dual language learners.

The report, put out by New America’s Dual Language Learners National Work Group, points to a number of lessons policymakers in other areas of the country can learn from DC’s success. These lessons include designing programs that are tailored to each school’s needs, having committed school leadership, and using co-teaching models that integrate DLLs into the classroom.

A summary of Briya’s dual-generation program is featured on page 13 of the report.

“Student outcomes suggest that Briya’s family literacy model is having a significant and positive impact on kindergarten readiness,” the report states.

Read the full report here.

MA Sim Lab Visit

MA students practice in Georgetown’s state-of-the-art facility

Briya’s Medical Assistant students had a unique opportunity for hands-on learning and collaboration during a recent trip to Georgetown University’s innovative simulation center.

At the center, MA students learned from and alongside Georgetown nursing students while acting out various scenarios that could occur in their medical work.

With nursing students portraying patients, the future MAs practiced taking vital signs—pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature—as they would in a clinic. Afterward, the nursing students gave them feedback on what they did well and what they could improve.

MA students practiced additional skills, including EKGs, on the center’s robotic patient simulators, which mimic human conditions and responses.

MA Student takes notes at the facilityIn addition to providing valuable practice, the visit gave the students an idea of what their future work setting could be like.

“This was a great opportunity for MA students be in a clinic environment and to learn and understand the value of interprofessional collaboration via working with nursing students,” said Reena Gadhia, Lead Medical Assistant Instructor.

This was the MA students’ second visit to the center, and they will return later in the year.

Briya 10-Year Review

Briya shines during 10-year charter review

Briya is looking forward to the future after earning exceptional charter review results and having its charter renewed.

The DC Public Charter School Board is required to conduct reviews of charter schools every five years to ensure they are meeting academic, legal and fiscal standards. Briya received outstanding results on its 10-year review, and the DC PCSB board voted to renew the charter for the standard five years.

One aspect of the review was an evaluation of the school’s goal achievement, which relates to student success in PreK, adult family literacy, and workforce development programs.

Briya has met all of its goals for the past ten years, which Dan Soifer, DC PCSB board vice chair, said is exceptional.

“Nothing about [Briya’s] goals strikes me as easy to achieve,” Soifer said. “Your work is unique in the city, your role is unique, and your record of accomplishment I think speaks for itself.”

The review also included qualitative analysis. Observers made 18 unannounced visits to Briya classrooms in a two-week period. Briya earned a high rating and many positive comments from reviewers.

“The teachers had high expectations for students and the students were committed to doing excellent work throughout all of the classroom observations,” the PCSB report states. “The teachers conveyed a passion for their students and for their content.”

Observers also said that PreK students’ social-emotional development was well supported and that computer, job, employability, and life skills were well integrated into adult family literacy classes, among other comments.

Briya staff anticipates many future years of empowering DC families.

“The last ten years have been an amazing opportunity to work with such caring, dedicated staff to provide high-quality integrated education for children, women and whole families,” said Christie McKay, Briya’s executive director. “In the next five years I hope to continue to refine our model and impact lives.”

Sharing Cultures PACT 2015

Students share and celebrate their cultures

Briya’s family literacy students, who come from nearly 40 different countries, recently celebrated their many cultures during parenting class and PACT time.

Students shared their countries’ food, objects, music and clothing—arroz con leche from Mexico, an outfit from Myanmar, a model of a pyramid from Egypt, a dance from El Salvador and much more.

In parenting class, students learned about the benefits of sharing their cultures with their children.

When listening to stories, children pick up new vocabulary, sounds and language patterns. Telling family stories is a great way for families to bond and for parents to pass on their values and traditions.

Students share clothing from their countries

 

And studies show that children who know their family history, especially stories of overcoming difficulties and hardship, are better able to overcome challenges they face in their own lives.

As they listened, watched, tasted and talked, students reflected on the importance of sharing with their children, felt pride in their own traditions, and gained understanding of their classmates’ diverse backgrounds.

Students went home with a renewed sense of belonging at school and a reminder of a wonderful way they can strengthen their families.

 

Miles Ahead Rally 2015

Briya families advocate for high-quality early education

Some of Briya’s smallest students stepped up to advocate for the importance of their education this fall.

Briya PreK students and their parents gathered on the grounds of the US Capitol to raise awareness of the benefits of early education during the Miles Ahead for Early Learning rally.

Children had a blast running in a relay race to remind policymakers that children get miles ahead when they have high-quality early learning opportunities. US senators, representatives and education leaders then spoke about the value of investing in early education and childcare for all children.

The rally was organized by Moms Rising, an organization that advocates for issues facing mothers and families nationwide.

AEFL Week 2015

Briya student wins AEFL Week contest with letter to councilmember

Manuche Gonclaves, a student in Briya’s Advanced II family literacy class, is committed to her education in spite of obstacles that she faces as a student, parent and immigrant.

Gonclaves advocated for adult learners like herself in a letter to 4th Ward councilmember Brandon Todd, which won first place in the English Language Learner category of the Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week essay contest.

Essay contest entrants were prompted to write a letter to their councilmember explaining some of the obstacles they face in pursuing their education, taking care of their family, and/or getting or keeping a good job, and to propose ways for the council to address these issues.

Gonclaves, who came to the US from Brazil five years ago, has two daughters, one of whom is in Briya’s toddler class. She is working to earn her high school diploma through Briya’s National External Diploma Program and then plans to graduate from the school’s Medical Assistant Program.

Her long-term goal is to work and save money so she can go to college and become a social worker. “I love to help people,” she said. “It’s the one thing that I want to do.”

In her letter, Gonclaves explained difficulties that she and other adult learners face in her letter.

“My obstacles are money, time and family,” Gonclaves wrote. “First, I don’t have money for college and to pay a daycare for my kids. My whole family is in my country, I don’t have anybody to help me.”

Gonclaves proposed increasing free or inexpensive daycare options and having more college scholarship opportunities so parents can afford to get further education.

“If I have a daycare for my kids, I’ll be able to go to school every day without worries,” she wrote. “The scholarships will be a good help to get my college degree without having to work many hours.”

Gonclaves was honored at an event kicking off Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week at Busboys and Poets on September 21, where she read her letter and received a prize.

“I’m lucky to come to DC because I see in other places they don’t have this type of program like Briya,” Gonclaves said. “I’m so excited to be here.”

Read Gonclaves’ full letter here.

Briya on NPR!

The ways Briya’s unique model benefits immigrant families are highlighted in a story by Armando Trull for NPR. Read and listen to the story here.

Bright Spot

Briya honored by White House as outstanding program in Hispanic education

Briya has been named a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. This award, created in honor of the Initiative’s 25th anniversary, recognizes exceptional programs nationwide that support Latino education and opportunities.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Andrew Ceja, Executive Director of the Initiative.

Briya was nominated for its use of a two-generation model that combats  cycles of under-education and poverty by enriching children with high-quality early childhood education, empowering parents to foster their children’s language and literacy skills from birth, and simultaneously equipping parents with the critical literacy and job skills needed to obtain employment.

As a Bright Spot, Briya is featured in an interactive online catalog that includes around 230 organizations across the country that are helping close the achievement gap for Latinos. Through highlighting these programs, the Initiative aims to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community from cradle to career.

MA Induction 2015

Medical assistant class of 2016 welcomed

“Always work as a team and help one another.”

“Start studying the first day of school so you’re not piling it up.”

“Don’t doubt yourself. Confidence is key.”

This was among the advice the incoming class of Briya’s Medical Assistant (MA) Program received from previous students as they were inducted into the program during a ceremony this fall.

Briya’s MA program, offered in collaboration with the school’s longtime partner Mary’s Center, runs for 12-15 months and prepares students for a career as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). RMAs perform administrative and clinical duties in medical offices, clinics and hospitals.

The new MA students were welcomed by Christie McKay, Executive Director of Briya, and Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer at Mary’s Center.

Koppelman praised the work of several MAs from earlier classes of Briya’s program who were since hired at Mary’s Center. She also emphasized the importance of medical assistants as the first and last person patients interact with at their appointments.

The new MA students were welcomed by Christie McKay, Executive Director of BriyaDuring the ceremony, new students each received a Medical Assistant pin and a stethoscope. Students from the MA class of 2015 then shared their guidance for the incoming class.

“My advice for all of you is to attend the class every day and stay organized,” said former student Claudia Ramos. “Study a lot whenever you have free time. Ask questions if you don’t understand.”

“Work hard and appreciate what you are receiving,” said Wendy Evora, another former student. “It’s not easy, but it’s not too hard. Ask your family, classmates and teachers for support.”

Ramos also expressed her gratitude to the program instructors: “Thank you for all of your patience and the time that you spent with each of us,” she said. “Thank you for providing me with all the knowledge that I need.”