Check out this great story about Briya’s dual-generation model that aired on the ABC 7 News (WJLA)!
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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!
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.
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!
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.
“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.
Briya 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.