AEFL Week 2014

Briya student advocates for family literacy, wins essay contest

IMG_3474Briya 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.IMG_3509

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.

Medical Assistants Recognized

Medical assistant students recognized, welcomed

In an evening of celebration, students in the first and second classes of Briya’s medical assistant program participated in a recognition and induction ceremony.

The class of 2014 was acknowledged for finishing their MA program coursework and for completing or being in the process of completing their 160-hour externship. These students then helped induct the class of 2015 by pinning them with an MA pin.

Begun in fall 2013, the MA program is a collaboration with Briya’s longtime partner, Mary’s Center. It is an 18-month course designed to prepare students for a career as medical assistants, who work alongside physicians and perform administrative and clinical duties.

Maria Gomez, founder and president of Mary’s Center, spoke at the ceremony about the need for medical assistants and the importance of their ability to make a human connection with patients, an element that can get lost as systems become more automated.IMG_2992

“It was nice to see the MA group that is finishing take part in inducting the MA group that is just beginning,” said Ingrid Andersson, an MA instructor. “It brought the whole thing full-circle.”

We Are Briya!

We Are Briya Film Festival FlierBriya students practice English and computer skills by developing how-to videos

 

This summer, Briya’s Advanced English and Digital Literacy classes participated in a video project designed to help students improve their English and technology skills through videos that teach fellow students how to act in real-world situations. The completed videos can be found here.

In their English classes, the students learned about character development, story arc and writing scripts. Then they selected topics—such as how to interview for a job, how to open a bank account and how to be safe in the street—relevant to other students. They wrote their scripts using Google Docs, filmed their videos on iPads and edited their videos using YouTube editor.

“Editing our movie was my favorite part,” said student Aleykutty Holley. “My teammates and I felt very creative being able to design the look of our movie with YouTube Editor. It was a good experience, and I will definitely use this program in the future!”

On the final day of class, students and their children participated in a film festival where they enjoyed snacks, viewed their class’s films and voted for awards including Best Acting, Best Costumes and Props, Best Story and Best Editing.

Teachers found the project to be a worthwhile experience for their students. “I enjoyed helping the students build their confidence in skills and tasks they’d never encountered before,” said Brittany Pope, a Digital Literacy instructor. “It was a tall order for them to write, film and produce their own movies, but their persistence and teamwork was inspiring.”

The project was inspired by the We Are New York television series, which aims to help viewers learn English through episodes about practical issues.

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Briya’s First Grads

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On June 25, for the first time, Briya Public Charter School students were awarded high school diplomas bearing the Briya name and logo. Six students donned cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. These Briya students spent many years studying English, math, computers, parenting, critical thinking and life skills  in order to earn their diplomas through the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). NEDP, overseen in the District of Columbia by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, is a nationally-recognized program for the assessment of high school-level skills in adults.

 

To see pictures from this year’s graduation and recognition ceremony, click here!

Community Schools

Briya PCS Builds Community Schools Program

As one of six groups awarded DC community school grants for the 2013-14 school year, Briya is ramping up services to meet families’ diverse needs both in and out of the classroom. In January, social worker Stephanie Mintz joined Briya’s staff as community schools coordinator. Stephanie’s role is to engage teachers, staff, students and partners so that the school can act as a hub for family services. This includes facilitating on-site mental health services, referrals to Mary’s Center and outreach to families. Stephanie will also serve Bancroft Elementary School in a similar capacity.

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Stephanie has nearly 20 years of community development experience, primarily with the local immigrant population. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked at both Carlos Rosario and the Latin American Youth Center in education and social services. Prior to this, Stephanie was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua. Christie McKay, Executive Director, said, “ We are excited that Stephanie has joined our team as she brings a lot of experience and enthusiasm for building student leadership at the school.”