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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!

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

Dept of Ed Visit

US Department of Education leaders visit Briya

Dr. Libby Doggett, Deputy Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the US Department of Education, visited Briya’s Georgia location on September 29. Sharon Darling, President and Founder of the National Center for Families Learning, and other senior advisors from the Department of Education were also in attendance.

Dr. Doggett and the group toured Briya’s facilities and spent time observing adult education and early childhood classes. Briya leadership demonstrated the importance of integrated adult education and early childhood education. The federal officials were impressed and brainstormed new ways they will integrate support for family literacy in federal policy, regulations and initiatives in the future.

Two Briya students, Anabel Cruz and Yizel Romero Octaviano, then spoke to the group about how Briya’s family literacy model has enabled them to understand how to help their children be successful in school. The group then asked further questions about Cruz’s and Octaviano’s experience and about how and why family literacy programs are effective.Briya student speaks to the group about Briya's family literacy programs

“We hope that this visit will lead to more opportunities to demonstrate the importance of family literacy at the national level,” said Christie McKay, Executive Director at Briya.

AEFL Week 2014

Briya student advocates for family literacy, wins essay contest

Briya student Elisabeth Hando advocates for herself and others during Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) WeekBriya student Elisabeth Hando stepped up to advocate for herself and others during Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week, September 22-26.

Hando, a native French speaker from Cameroon, started as an Advanced II student at Briya this year. As an assignment in her Digital Literacy class, Hando wrote a letter to mayoral candidate and 4th Ward council-member Muriel Bowser, responding to the question, “What motivated you to go back to school, and how has that decision impacted your life and your family’s life?”

Hando’s letter was selected for submission to the citywide AEFL Week essay contest, sponsored by the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition. Her letter won first place in the ESOL category.

“I was motivated to continue my education and learn English so that I could support my children with their homework and for access to more job opportunities,” Hando said in the letter. “Most of the families that flee their countries in difficult conditions seek a better life, and they deserve education opportunities.”

Hando was recognized for her outstanding essay at the AEFL week Big Tent Meeting on September 26, where she was awarded a Dell laptop and had a chance to address the audience.

Hando explained how education allowed her to improve her English and gave her the confidence and skills to open her own daycare and start her own nonprofit organization, Renaissance Center for Culture and Education, which offers programs including mentoring, performance art and French language classes for children.

In addition to winning the essay contest, Hando was part of a group of adult learners, including six other Briya students, who attended AEFL Advocacy Day at the Wilson Building on September 24. The group met with council-member Bowser to advocate for family literacy and adult education programs.

Hando spoke to Bowser, using her experience to demonstrate the importance of programs like Briya’s.

“Adult education should be a priority because it has a lot of impact on our families,” Hando said.

Medical Assistants Recognized

Medical assistant students recognized, welcomed

In an evening of celebration, students in the first and second classes of Briya’s medical assistant program participated in a recognition and induction ceremony.

The class of 2014 was acknowledged for finishing their MA program coursework and for completing or being in the process of completing their 160-hour externship. These students then helped induct the class of 2015 by pinning them with an MA pin.

Begun in fall 2013, the MA program is a collaboration with Briya’s longtime partner, Mary’s Center. It is an 18-month course designed to prepare students for a career as medical assistants, who work alongside physicians and perform administrative and clinical duties.

Maria Gomez, founder and president of Mary’s Center, spoke at the ceremony about the need for medical assistants and the importance of their ability to make a human connection with patients, an element that can get lost as systems become more automated.Medical Assistant student recieves a pin

“It was nice to see the MA group that is finishing take part in inducting the MA group that is just beginning,” said Ingrid Andersson, an MA instructor. “It brought the whole thing full-circle.”

We Are Briya!

Briya students practice English and computer skills by developing how-to videos

This summer, Briya’s Advanced English and Digital Literacy classes participated in a video project designed to help students improve their English and technology skills through videos that teach fellow students how to act in real-world situations. The completed videos can be found here.

In their English classes, the students learned about character development, story arc and writing scripts. Then they selected topics—such as how to interview for a job, how to open a bank account and how to be safe in the street—relevant to other students. They wrote their scripts using Google Docs, filmed their videos on iPads and edited their videos using YouTube editor.

“Editing our movie was my favorite part,” said student Aleykutty Holley. “My teammates and I felt very creative being able to design the look of our movie with YouTube Editor. It was a good experience, and I will definitely use this program in the future!”

On the final day of class, students and their children participated in a film festival where they enjoyed snacks, viewed their class’s films and voted for awards including Best Acting, Best Costumes and Props, Best Story and Best Editing.

Teachers found the project to be a worthwhile experience for their students. “I enjoyed helping the students build their confidence in skills and tasks they’d never encountered before,” said Brittany Pope, a Digital Literacy instructor. “It was a tall order for them to write, film and produce their own movies, but their persistence and teamwork was inspiring.”

The project was inspired by the We Are New York television series, which aims to help viewers learn English through episodes about practical issues.

    Briya student filming a kitchen sceneBriya students editing a filmBriya students watching the film festival in class

Briya’s First Grads

Grads put on their capsBriya grad before the ceremony

On June 25, for the first time, Briya Public Charter School students were awarded high school diplomas bearing the Briya name and logo. Six students donned cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. These Briya students spent many years studying English, math, computers, parenting, critical thinking and life skills  in order to earn their diplomas through the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). NEDP, overseen in the District of Columbia by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, is a nationally-recognized program for the assessment of high school-level skills in adults.

 

To see pictures from this year’s graduation and recognition ceremony, click here!