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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.

 

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.

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.

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!

 

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

Pre-K Students Dig into Learning

Pre-K students learn through gardening

This fall, preschoolers at Briya’s Ontario Road site have been learning in the garden! Children heard about how bulbs grow and looked at the different sizes of crocus, tulip, and daffodil bulbs before planting and watering them. In the spring, the children will get to see the bulbs they planted grow into flowers! 

Students also planted purple and yellow pansies in a pattern and learned a song about what flowers need to grow. This hands-on learning connects to lessons about trees and the way plants grow that students have been learning in the classroom. Teachers holding bulbs for students to touch

 

 

 

 

 

Check out more pictures here!

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.