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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.”

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.

 

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.

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.”

Brookings Institution Study

Brookings Institution study shows benefits of Briya and Mary’s Center’s partnership

Briya’s partnership with Mary’s Center is featured in a study by the Brookings Institution as a valuable example of how schools and clinics can work together to strengthen communities.

“The combination of a school and clinic that function together as a ‘hub’ to provide healthcare, social services and education shows promise as a way to help improve social mobility in low-income neighborhoods,” according to the study.

In addition to the co-location of education, health and social services, the study cites the provision of education for parents and children simultaneously as a key strategy that contributes to Briya/Mary’s Center’s success. Researchers conclude that the combination of a dual-generation school and a clinic could be a model for others to follow.

“Briya/Mary’s Center is an interesting case of how a school-clinic hub can impact the medical, social and educational health of a community, potentially laying the foundation for greater economic mobility in a neighborhood,” the study says.

Read the full study here.

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.

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.”