School Choice Panel 2016

School Choice Panel prepares Briya students to make informed choices for their children

Looking at school websites is one way to learn about options for your children’s education. But hearing directly from school leaders and asking them questions can be even more valuable. Family literacy students had the chance to do just that during Briya’s ninth annual School Choice Panel this January.

Leaders from nine high-quality local schools—Bancroft Elementary, Bridges PCS, Bruce Monroe Elementary, DC Bilingual PCS, LAMB PCS, Mundo Verde PCS, Powell Elementary and Stokes PCS, as well as Briya—took turns describing what makes their school unique during the panel, which was hosted by Briya.

Panelists shared key facts about their schools, including basic offerings, the school’s philosophy, time and cost of before and after care, dates of upcoming open houses, and more.

Each representative gave information about their school in both English and Spanish. Translation was also provided for students who speak other languages, including French, Amharic, Arabic and Bengali.

After sharing, each panelist answered audience questions. Students then had the chance to talk one-on-one with panelists whose schools interested them and to pick up brochures about the programs.

“The students seemed to really enjoy the panel,” said Judy Kittleson, Family Literacy Instructor and panel organizer. “I think they most appreciated learning more about each school’s philosophy directly from the schools’ leaders.

Advanced I Job Fair

Family literacy students prepare for jobs and careers

How do I get a job in DC? After a recent job preparation unit, students in Briya’s Advanced I family literacy class are well-equipped to answer that question.

The students began by thinking about their skills and past experience to decide what types of jobs they’d like to pursue. In English class, students studied the vocabulary necessary for those jobs, which include teacher, waitress and housekeeper. They also learned about interviews and practiced interviewing skills.

In digital literacy class, students wrote, formatted and edited their resumes using Google Docs. They learned the importance of using action verbs on a resume, researched jobs, and practiced filling out online applications.

The group also visited the public library, where a librarian showed them online job databases they can access with their library card. The students then toured areas of the library that have career-related books and other resources.

Student at practice job fair.The unit ended with a practice job fair. Printed resumes in hand, the students interviewed with staff members posing as potential employers in their fields.

Some students were nervous about speaking English throughout an entire interview; others had never interviewed before. At the end of the job fair, staff gave students feedback on what they did well and what they could improve.

“The mock job fair helped students be more aware of how to prepare for the emotions that will come up in future job interviews,” said Grace Parker, digital literacy instructor. “Overall, I think it was most successful because the students supported each other as they faced their own questions, uncertainties and insecurities about finding a job.”

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.