Issue 5 Spring 2024

A publication of the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, featuring multimedia public scholarship to inform the collective struggle for democracy, justice and public education.

Editorial Introduction

We are excited to serve as Issue Editors for the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) feature in the UCLA Center for Community Schooling Journal! We have had the honor of working closely with AUHSD as a Deep Dive Transformation Partner for the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) throughout the last year.  As one of three transformation partners, AUHSD has supported our collective learning of the struggles and successes with implementing community schooling from “the classroom to the capitol” and offers a lens in understanding how  varying sociopolitical dynamics, student populations, urbanicity, and distinctive approaches to public education shapes implementation. Through learning exchanges, role-alike peer learning networks, and storytelling initiatives, we aim to lift up lessons and spark reflection and growth across California community schools and beyond.

In our commitment to center voices from the field and elevate the work happening on the ground, we are focusing this issue on the stories of students and site and district administrators that personify the AUHSD’s mission to, in partnership with their broader community, graduate socially aware, civic-minded students who are life ready by cultivating the soft and hard skills.  

Gilbert High School, AUHSD’s alternative school, exemplifies a community-based approach to schooling through tailoring learning to the needs and assets of their students. Through an interview with Principal Jose Lara, the school case lifts up the importance of personally connected leadership and acting through a flipped philosophy of schooling wherein schools don’t give students a second chance, rather students give school a second chance. Principal Lara shares examples of how the staff at Gilbert do whatever it takes to support students, embodying another Gilbert philosophy that ‘students will give up on us before we give up on them.’ 

Michael Switzer, ELA Curriculum Specialist and former English Teacher at Savanna High School, shares his journey in developing and supporting the scale of AUHSD’s Capstone Program. What started as a creative approach to demonstrating learning in a single high school English classroom has grown into a district-wide initiative to change the way students learn and are assessed and to shift the way teachers teach and collaborate. The teacher scholarship piece offers an inside look into how a teacher-led idea spurred the development of district-wide structures and supports for an innovative approach to student-centered learning. 

In the youth research spotlight, Denise Rojas, 12th grader at Western High School, shares her research project on the impact of homelessness on overall health outcomes in her community. Her project and the actions that followed earned her a Rising Scientist Award from the Child Mind Institute in 2023. Denise’s story grounds the vision of centering youth voice and purpose within AUHSD and demonstrates the power of community-based learning. 

Our last feature — Policy ABC’s (Actions, Briefs, and Commentaries) — highlights five ‘poster-to-practice’ recommendations of interest to any district developing and implementing a graduate profile. AUHSD Superintendent, Mike Matsuda, shares the importance of: 1) Creating a shared vision, mission, and core values that point to whole-child instruction in the classroom, 2) Building structures and systems that support the teacher in the classroom and align with the vision, mission, and core values, 3) Working with the teacher association on supporting teachers in aligning their work with the Career Preparedness Systems Framework and the 5 Cs (collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, compassion/kindness), 4) Developing a human resources strategy that is aligned with the vision, mission, and core values, including recruitment, hiring, retention, and evaluation of teachers and administrators, and 5) Collaborating with higher education, business and nonprofit partners to support the vision, mission, and core values.

We are thankful to the team of students, teachers, administrators, and district staff from Anaheim Union High School District who thoughtfully contributed their experiences centering student voice, agency, and purpose within the district’s community schooling approach. 

Natalie Fensterstock & Leyda W. Garcia 

CS Journal as a Learning Tool

Our aim for each issue of the Community Schooling Journal is that practitioners, researchers, families, and students find it to be an impact learning tool. To this end, we’ve provided a discussion guide that spans the four features of the issue and includes discussion prompts related to the issues’s main themes.

Car drawing

Cover Art by Angel Martinez

Angel is a 2023 alumni of Magnolia High School.  Inspired by the Magnolia Agriscience Community Center or “the Farm”, the artist shares: “The inspiration stemmed from the idea of bringing not only necessities through fresh foods but joy as well, and trying to help that reach every part of our community. To me, community doesn’t only mean the people you talk to or the people you see, but the things around you as well. The little things you can appreciate throughout your home, street, or city. The buildings, the art, the parks. Realizing that you may not know the people who built it, but can appreciate what they have brought into your community.”