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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.

 

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.

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.

Briya in New America

New America article highlights success of Briya’s family engagement model

Briya’s strategies for engaging the parents of dual language learners in their children’s education are featured as outstanding in an article by the New America Foundation.

Approaches that are part of Briya’s parenting classes and PACT time, including encouraging learning at home and providing parents with materials related to what children learned in class, are noted as excellent strategies. Briya’s partnership with Mary’s Center to provide further services to families is also cited as an excellent tactic.

The article praises Briya’s PreK outcomes, stating that the school has “seen great success: student language/literacy, mathematics and social-emotional learning (SEL) scores are nearly perfect, and SEL scores reach 100 percent.”

“[O]ther early education centers should learn from places like Briya … that have intentionally prioritized family engagement and incorporated it as an integral component of their program,” the article states.

Read the full article here.

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.”

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!