MA Graduation 2015

First class of Briya Medical Assistants recognized

The fourteen graduates from the first class of Briya’s Medical Assistant (MA) Program were celebrated at the school’s graduation and recognition ceremony on June 23, 2015.

“This is a dream that has definitely come true, and I am grateful for this program and the great people that come along with it,” said Shenell Williams, one of the MA graduates, who spoke at the ceremony.

The MA Program runs for 12-15 months and prepares students for careers as Registered Medical Assistants in medical offices, clinics and hospitals. Medical Assistants perform a variety of duties, including taking blood pressure, updating patient records, giving injections, and scheduling appointments.

Briya’s MA program is offered in conjunction with Briya’s longtime partner, Mary’s Center. Maria Gomez, Mary’s Center president and CEO, spoke at the ceremony about how the program demonstrates the valuable partnership between the school and the center.

MA student speaking at ceremony
Four of the MA graduates, including Williams, have already been offered and accepted MA positions at Mary’s Center, while another has begun working as an MA for MedStar. Additional students have also received job offers.

“Working at Mary’s Center has changed my life,” Williams said. “I love my patients. This is something I have always wanted to do, and now I’m finally doing it. I am helping and making a difference.”

NEDP Graduates 2015

Students earn high school diplomas from Briya

“My goal is to be a good mother to my children and have them see that it is never too late to study,” said Florencia Ibarra, one of three students who earned her high school diploma from Briya this June.

Ibarra, a mother of four from Mexico, started as a student in the Intermediate II class of Briya’s Family Literacy Program seven years ago. She has since improved her English enough to move to the Advanced I class and then to Advanced II, in which students are eligible to enter Briya’s National External Diploma Progam (NEDP).

The NEDP is an adult high school diploma program in which students work one-on-one with an adviser to demonstrate competency in a variety of areas. The program is performance based rather than test based, and the educational content is designed to be relevant to the life experience of adults.

The program provides students with the flexibility to work at their own pace and on their own schedule. This is significant for Briya students, who often have to balance raising children, working and attending class, among other responsibilities.

Student giving thumbs up after receivng her diploma“Briya is a school that understands us as adults, parents, and students,” said Guadalupe Martinez, another 2015 graduate. “NEDP is not only at the school—I can also work at home. And the teachers support and help me when I need it.”

Earning a high school diploma from the United States helps open up many career and educational possibilities. The third 2015 Briya NEDP graduate, Wendy Evora, is continuing her education as a student in Briya’s Medical Assistant Program. Ibarra and Martinez both hope to get jobs working in an office.

All three 2015 graduates said they would encourage other immigrant parents to consider entering Briya’s program and earn their diploma.

“I would say to people that are looking for success that they will find help at Briya,” Evora said. “No matter what they are facing in life, the Briya teachers and staff are always there to help.”

“I think the most important thing is perseverance,” Ibarra said. “Nothing is impossible. I hope this helps others be confident and think that if somebody else can do it, they can too.”

 

 

Briya has been offering the NEDP—which is sponsored nationally by Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) and locally by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)—since the 2010-2011 school year. Sixteen students have graduated from Briya’s program so far, and ten students are currently enrolled.

Briya Know Your Rights Events 2015

Agency representative reviewing materials with studentKnow Your Rights event provides students with valuable resources

Briya students learned about their rights as workers, tenants, immigrants, and parents living in DC during Briya’s first Know Your Rights info fair on May 6.

Held at Briya’s Ontario Road site, the event was an opportunity for various local organizations to share their resources and expertise with Briya students and others from the local community.

“Student surveys and brainstorming with students and staff have shown that our families have a lot of need in areas like housing, jobs and legal support,” said Community Schools Coordinator Stephanie Mintz, who organized the event. “This was a way to bring organizations that offer these resources together in one place.”

Agencies shared materials on workers’ rights, domestic violence, immigration law, disability rights, discrimination, tax help, and more. To encourage engagement, students completed a scavenger hunt that required them to interact with the representatives.

Eleven area organizations—Ayuda, CARECEN, Catholic Charities, DC Employee Justice Center, The Equal Rights Center, Julia M. Toro Law Firm, LEDC, Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, SAFE, Sojourners, and Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs—participated in the May 6 event.

“This event was a win for both the organizations who participated and the Briya students who attended,” Mintz said.

Briya will host a second Know Your Rights event at our 3912 Georgia Ave. location from 10:30-2 on June 11. Stop by to learn about your rights as a DC citizen!

STARS Awards 2015

Briya students shine at charter schools STARS Tribute

Two Briya students, Yanira Umaña and Anabel Cruz, were honored at the 2015 STARS Tribute, an annual event that celebrates the best students, parents and school leaders in DC public charter schools. The tribute is organized by the DC Association for Chartered Public Schools.

Yanira Umaña with her daughter after receiving the award

Umaña was a finalist in the category of Outstanding Adult Student. She began in Briya’s Basic II ESL/family literacy class in 2012 and has since progressed to Intermediate II. Her son, Moises Rios, has been in Briya’s Early Childhood program since infancy, and she is also mother to eight-year-old Emily.

“Yanira is a leader in the classroom and participates in our parenting components with both enthusiasm and creativity,” said Cristin Reeder, Umaña’s teacher. “She is also an active member in her community and is involved in various local organizations.”

Anabel Cruz, a current Advanced II student who began in the Intermediate I class in 2006, was awarded Most Outstanding Parent at the tribute.

“I have seen Anabel incorporating the ideas she has learned in child development class into her own parenting,” said Mark Faloni, Cruz’s teacher. “In this field of adult education, she epitomizes what we at Briya have been working at for a long time—creating lifelong learners who make life better for themselves and their families.”

In addition to advancing in Briya’s family literacy program, Cruz received her high school diploma through Briya’s NEDP program, completed a six-year term as a Briya board member, and graduated from Briya’s Medical Assistant program. She is currently the PTA president at Mundo Verde PCS, where her three children attend.Both students with their children and teachers

“Anabel quickly builds a trusting and caring rapport with her children’s teachers,” said Elizabeth Barriga, teacher of two of Cruz’s children at Mundo Verde. “She is proactive in finding out ways to support their learning while clearly and kindly communicating her expectations and insights to teachers.”

“I tell my children that if I can do it, you can too,” Cruz said. “If you keep studying hard, one day you will realize your dreams.”

Reading Challenge 2015

Briya students complete successful Reading Challenge

Can you imagine spending over 1750 hours (73 days) reading? What about reading almost 1,300 books in 4 weeks?

Briya students did just that in the past month during their Reading Challenge!

From April 8 to May 8, all students in Briya’s Basic and Intermediate family literacy classes read for a total of 1,766 hours (73 days), while students in Advanced classes read a total of 1,290 books.

The goal of the Reading Challenge, which Briya has held for the past 10 years, is to encourage students to incorporate more reading into their lives and the lives of their families. Students record the number of minutes or number of books they read. They can read alone or with their children, in English or in their native language. Students select reading material based on their own interest.

To help motivate students, each of Briya’s three sites created a mural to visually represent the amount students read. The murals started with a basic background and gradually grew more colorful and complete as students added to them.

On May 8, students at each site celebrated with a party, where the top readers in every class were honored with an award. Students also each received a book to take home with them!

 

CDA Graduation 2015

45 students graduate from CDA program

Teacher hugging graduating studentForty-five students from Briya’s Child Development Associate (CDA) Program celebrated the completion of their coursework and the beginning of their professional careers at a graduation ceremony on April 2.

Briya’s Child Development Associate course prepares students for jobs such as an early childhood teacher or a licensed home daycare operator. Two classes, one in English and one in Spanish, are taught four evenings a week from September to March of each year.

During the graduation ceremony, two student speakers, Diana Loughridge and Barbara Shaheed, congratulated their classmates on accomplishing the first step in realizing their dreams to be early childhood educators. The speakers encouraged their peers to put into practice what they learned during the course in order to promote children’s cognitive, emotional and physical growth.

All 2015 CDA graduates have completed their 120 hours of coursework. Those who have also completed the required 480 practice hours working with children in a licensed setting are now ready to apply to take the national CDA exam with the Council for Professional Recognition. Upon passing the exam, students will receive a nationally certified CDA credential.

“I admire all of our students,” said Wendy Guardado, CDA Coordinator. “All of them have a job and/or have children, but they still found the time, willingness and energy to come to class every day. This is the beginning of their careers as teachers, and I’m sure they are going to be great.”

Graduates with their diplomas

Briya Sweet Dreamzzz Training

Good night and Sweet Dreamzzz: Briya students learn about sleep

Following his teacher’s lead, Samuel gently places his teddy bear in its cardboard bed, tucks the yellow blanket under its chin and whispers, “Good night.”

Samuel and his fellow Briya prekindergarten students were practicing bedtime routines as part of sleep education training provided by Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc., a nonprofit that educates at-risk children and their families on the importance of sleep in order to improve children’s health, well-being and academic performance.

The training began with a workshop for Briya adult students in which they learned a variety of sleep-related information, including recommended hours of sleep for different age groups, benefits of sleep (which include improved school performance) and how to create a bedtime routine for their children.

In a separate session, the organization trained Briya teachers in leading these parent workshops, equipping them to teach sleep education to future students.

After the parent workshop, Briya pre-kindergarteners spent two weeks learning about sleep in their classrooms. Teachers used materials provided by Sweet Dreamzzz to teach good sleep habits and the parts of a bedtime routine, such as eating a healthy snack and doing a relaxing activity like reading.

Teacher reading to student laying down to go to bedEach pre-k student received their own teddy bear, along with a cardboard box bed and a blanket for the bear. Students named their bear and decorated its bed and blanket.

Children then used their bears to practice the sleep skills they were learning in class. They read stories to their bears and put the bears to bed, covering them with the blanket. They also brought their bears to sleep with them during nap time every day.

On final day of the two-week period, pre-k students took their teddy bears home, well prepared for good sleep and school success!

Pre-K Studies

Studies provide pre-kindergarten students with in-depth learning

Pre-K classes at each of Briya’s three sites have been busy this winter doing studies on boxes, buildings, and clothing. Studies in pre-K classrooms last from six to ten weeks and allow preschoolers to dig deep into a particular topic.Student learning about boxes


Boxes study at Bancroft site

Pre-K students at Briya’s Bancroft site did a study on boxes. They explored and used boxes in a variety of ways, including using their imagination to convert boxes into a police car, a spaceship, a snowman and more! They tested, discussed and evaluated a pulley system and a dolly. Students learned the difference between sturdy and flimsy boxes and talked about how fragile objects are often wrapped in boxes. Students also had the chance to be engineers. They designed and created their own sturdy boxes using various materials, tested the boxes’ strength with blocks, reinforced the weak points, decorated them and finally packed them with a fragile gift to take home to their parents.

 

Student learning about buildings

Building study at Georgia site

Georgia Avenue pre-K students investigated buildings. They read stories relating to building, such as Three Little Pigs and Tools Rule. They also discussed and explored a variety of questions, including: what are the parts of a building? what are buildings made of? who builds buildings? what tools do we use to build buildings? what happens inside buildings? and more. Students learned vocabulary words related to buildings, and these same words were highlighted in visually appealing ways along with learning activities and sent home to parents each week. The classroom was filled with their projects and pictures of buildings and building parts. They also visited the construction site near the school, went to a local design and building firm, had a visit from an architect, made a large blueprint for their classroom and had the chance to go on a field trip to the National Building Museum.

Students and teacher posing with a sewing machine

 

 

Clothing study at Ontario site

The two pre-K classes at Briya’s Ontario Road site spent time studying clothing. Guest speakers demonstrated how clothing is made, and students had the chance to practice sewing by hand with a needle and thread and ripping out seams with a seam ripper. In addition, students learned about uniforms and had a visit from DC firefighters, who explained how their uniforms protect them during fires. The unit also included a field trip to Target, where the children met employees, got a tour of the clothing section, and learned how clothing is organized and how price tags are attached.

Bowser Visit

Bowser visits Briya student council meeting

Mayor Elect Muriel Bowser visited Briya’s student council meeting this fall, where students asked her to continue to support Briya’s family literacy model. Bowser listened to students’ thoughts on how adult education benefits families and helps students integrate into their community. Students also expressed the need for more a new building so that more families can benefit from Briya’s services.

 

Mayor Bowser gives thumbs up to the student council members

New Preschool Class

Briya Pre-K program adapts to better serve students

The preschool program at Briya’s Ontario Road location has been expanded and improved for this school year.

Instead of having one large preschool class, as the site did previously, preschoolers are now divided into two slightly smaller classes. This enables Briya to serve more students, and the small size of the classes—each has ten students and two teachers—allows each child to receive individual attention.

Dedicated special education staff help work one-on-one and in small groups in each of the classes to meet individual needs and help with literacy and math.

The small class size also makes it easier for the children and their families to get to know one another.

The two classes, which are known as Sol and Luna, join together for activities like music lessons and trips to the park.

Classroom with teacher and students