Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
This month, instead of highlighting one remarkable Partnership educator for our Educator Spotlight, we are highlighting four excellent educators who recently received the United Way’s Inspirational Teacher’s award.
Of the many passionate educators in the Los Angeles Unified School District, only 25 were chosen to receive this honor, four of whom are Partnership teacher leaders.
Roxana Duenas, a history teacher at Roosevelt High School; Kat Czujko, an engineering teacher at Hollenbeck Middle School; Tajuana Johnson, a fifth grade teacher at Dolores Huerta Elementary; and Lauryn England, a third grade teacher at 99th Street Elementary, have been recognized for going above and beyond in order to provide their students with the best education possible.
“One of the best, most tangible workshops I have ever been to.”
“Building community is key to improving school culture.”
“It begins with respect for the students and their power to effect change in themselves.”
These are just some of the written reflections from “What Works in School Culture & Climate: A Community Convening” held at Roosevelt High School on Saturday, February 28, 2015. With nearly 150 students, parents, educators, and partners, this convening was an opportunity to both celebrate what’s working and also to collaboratively address continued challenges.
On Saturday, January 24th, dozens of students, families, and community partners with the Building Healthy Communities – Boyle Heights Health Happens in Schools Workgroup participated and facilitated at “Illuminarte,” an all-day community event at the General Hospital Wellness Center.
Thanks to our funding for restorative justice from The California Endowment, we were able to participate in the planning and execution of the festivities. Several of our students from Roosevelt and Mendez created and led carnival-style learning games on the School Climate Bill of Rights (SCBOR) and Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
We don’t just tell people about our work with restorative practices; we open our doors and invite them in. We welcome visitors to participate in circle, interview our students and staff, and engage in deep conversations about the lessons we’ve learned. On September 18th, Roosevelt, Gompers and Markham had visits from two school networks and several community partners eager to see our implementation of restorative practices in action.
Something’s different this year. Walking down the halls of our schools, there’s something notably different about the school and classroom environments. It’s not just the summer deep cleaning or the freshly waxed floors (though they help); there’s something collective about our environment expectations that has shifted the way schools and classrooms look and feel across the Partnership network.
This summer the Partnership once again welcomed several interns to work alongside our staff to learn more about our turnaround efforts. Interns came from all over the State including Berkeley, CA. Partnership summer interns participated in everything from family and community engagement to assisting the CEO and the executive team. We asked our interns to reflect on their time at the Partnership.
With the generous support of The California Endowment and the technical assistance of the California Conference for Equality and Justice, Roosevelt High, Markham Middle and Gompers Middle Schools each received a Restorative Justice coordinator to develop and implement restorative practices this past school year.
A colleague once remarked to me that teaching is about enabling connections. We work to connect students to the content, to ourselves, or to their classroom peers in an effort to engage their minds in learning. As educators, we should similarly connect ourselves in as many ways as possible to those who can help us further refine our craft. One way of enabling this is by traveling abroad and fostering relationships with educators of different nationalities. Not only do we gain insight into how different cultures approach the central problems in education, but we see our own society's approach to education with fresh perspective. Such a trip is invigorating both on personal and professional levels.
It's been almost eight years since Antonio Villaraigosa moved into LA City Hall and announced fixing the public schools would be a hallmark of his administration -- even though he had no formal control over the school district. Cynics scoffed and advisors cautioned, but the new mayor was on a mission and the behemoth Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, would never be the same.