April 2021 Newsletter

This month, we share stories of struggle and accomplishment. We highlight the work of teachers and administrators in elevating and celebrating the voices of Black youth and excellence. We also honor the efforts of the many individuals who aim to improve our schools and address the issues affecting our communities through grant opportunities and research.

Building a Supportive Space for Black Students:
UCLA Community School’s Black Student Union

By: Samantha Hill 

UCLA Community School’s mission is to prepare all students to live rich and meaningful lives through a supportive community. The educators at UCLA Community School (UCLA-CS) make this mission abundantly clear with the care and passion they have for creating an enriching and safe environment for its students. So when the global pandemic struck the world, the staff at UCLA-CS rallied together to carry out this mission despite the many challenges that COVID-19 brought. Among those challenges was the heightened exposure to police brutality and abhorrent racism in America. Stay at home orders as a result of the pandemic literally forced people to stay home and watch the racist and anti-black atrocities that many of our Black students and families have been dealing with for generations. This was a moment where everyone in America was forced to look at their own individual missions in the fight against racism.

A Celebration of Excellence at Mann UCLA Community School 

On March 4th, the Mann UCLA Community School celebrated the hard work, determination, creativity, and resilience of its community during its annual “Evening of Excellence.” The virtual event honored Black Excellence in music, literature, art, and science and highlighted the amazing gifts and talents of its student body. Students presented powerful stories that served to inspire the whole community.

The event also honored students with perfect attendance, and those who have excelled academically this year by achieving a grade point average of 3.0 and above. Mann UCLA Community School officially inducted its 9th grade class (the Class of 2024) into the high school and celebrated the achievements of 8th Grade class members who are on track to culminate and enter high school next fall.

Unaccompanied Youth in Public Schools and the
Opportunity to Lead for Emancipatory Practices

UCLA Community School principal, Dr. Leyda W. Garcia, successfully defended her dissertation last month based on research she conducted with unaccompanied youth at the school. The aim of the study was to foreground youth agency through a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) design, complimented by Critical Race Theory. The study built on the epistemology of unaccompanied youth to inform and generate affirming and emancipatory educational practices. A direct result of the study was the creation of a Student Advisory Board Club at UCLA Community School–a formal space where students can inform school decisions. The students in the Student Advisory Board Club have surveyed their peers and teachers to understand the impact of the pandemic and virtual learning. Their findings have supported the school’s efforts to respond to the individual needs of students and families.

For more information, view the study overview or read the full abstract.

Announcing Partnership Grant Recipients

Mann UCLA Community School has announced award recipients for its new “UCLA Community Schools Partnership Grant.” The grant aims to support teams of school-based teachers, staff and leaders to work collaboratively to develop programs and services that support its community school approach. Grant recipients are encouraged to work with UCLA and community partners to address issues of racial equity, empowerment and social justice. According to Christine Shen, Director of the UCLA Community Schools Initiative, these awards will “deepen the relationships between teachers and partners by creating opportunities to collectively address issues affecting our community and by problem-solving together.” Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2021 UCLA Community Schools Partnership awards:

6th grade teacher, Berenice Morales, in partnership with UCLA Community School teacher, Gloria Gallardo, will foster cross cultural connections and community through their project entitled “Comida y Conexión.”

High school teachers Sunanda Kushon and Elizabeth Kenah will support high school seniors develop “PantherTalk”–an after-school enrichment and support program for 7th grade students to promote wellness and empower students to use their strengths to build motivation and resilience in themselves and their peers.

“All Hands on Deck” is a parent engagement project that will be led by the school’s Anti-Racist Committee. The project aims to increase parental involvement through a range of parent-initiated strategies so that the school becomes a beacon in the neighborhood and can fully live up to its name as the “Mann UCLA Community School.”

UCLA Center for Community Schooling at the 2021 American Educational Research Association Meeting

The work of the UCLA Center for Community Schooling will be represented at the 2021 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Virtual Annual Meeting, which will be held April 8th through April 12th. UCLA Center for Community Schooling researchers will present and speak on panels at 8 sessions on a range of topics including university-community partnerships, the immigration family legal clinic, English learner support, dual-language, scholar-activism, online learning, and identity and the learning sciences.

UCLA Center for Community School researchers speaking at the AERA annual meeting include: Clemence Darriet, Leyda Garcia, Symone Gyles, Christine Liboon, Marco Murillo, Olivia Obeso, Jody Priselac, Karen Hunter Quartz, and Marisa Saunders.

Presentations include:

  • Challenges and Hopes of University-Community Partnerships: Narratives of Community Engagement as Ethical Responsibilities
  • Academic Achievement and Educational Opportunities of Emergent Bilinguals
  • Immigrant, Language, and Educational (In)Justice
  • Centering Identity and Political Dimensions in the Learning Sciences
  • Designing Online Learning to Integrate the Everyday Knowledge and Everyday Contexts of Students’ of Color in Urban Spaces
  • Love, Study, Struggle, Resistance: Centering the Possibilities of Scholar-Activism in Pursuits for Social Justice & Liberation
  • Taking Collective Action and Responsibility to Address Inequity: The Case of Partnerships for Community Schools
  • Immigration Family Legal Clinic: A Case of Integrated Student Supports in a Community School Context
See more information on these sessions or click here for the full program.