These are profiles of students who overcame significant life challenges to complete their education and earn a high school diploma as a member of the Class of 2017 from an EdisonLearning network school.
Carl Velez: Chicago Brainerd Bridgescape Graduate
Carl Velez came to Englewood Bridgescape Academy (later transferred to Brainerd) from a traditional Chicago high school because he felt disconnected and the discipline structure was too harsh. He was about to drop out but he learned about Bridgescape from a close friend.
At Bridgescape, Carl felt at “home”. The teachers wanted him to be there, and they showed him that they had a personal investment in his future. Carl liked the structure of the program, as it allowed him to focus on one class at a time; and appreciated that teachers were always available to support him through one-on-one tutoring and in small group instruction.
The Bridgescape team consistently inspired him and encouraged him to persevere, knowing that he was a caregiver to his mother who faced a major health challenge. Due to the challenges he faced, more than once, Carl wanted to give up and drop out.
Yet, as he said, “Ms. Battle pushed me every day to work hard. When she showed me that she cared, it made me want to come to school every day”. Carl made a promise to his mother that he would finish high school. Sadly, Carl’s mother passed right before Mother’s Day.
As an extra incentive and encouragement, Mr. Ernest Williams, Program/Student Success Director, promised to buy Carl’s tux for the prom. With all that was going on he did not even think that he was able to go to prom.
In order to complete his course work, Carl worked at school during the day and from home in the evening. A few weeks before graduation, Carl successfully finished all of his course work and graduation requirements. He was able to finally relax and enjoy his senior prom.
As he walked across the stage at commencement, as an “Achievement Award” winner, Carl realized that he had fulfilled the promise to his mother. He knew that his mother was embracing him, and proud of him.
Carl is truly thankful for the commitment to his education shown by the entire Bridgescape team. Carl plans to work this summer and enroll in a post-secondary program this coming fall.
Going forward, the teachers and staff at the Brainerd Bridgescape look to remain connected with Carl, and to ensure that he is supported throughout his future educational endeavors.
Mariah Gonzalez: Chicago Humboldt Park Bridgescape Graduate
Mariah Gonzalez had been a student at the Bridgescape Learning Academy Humboldt Park campus for nearly 3 years. She was classified as a sophomore at the end of last year. This year, however, Mariah came with a change of heart, and a new sense of purpose and commitment to her education. She set a goal for herself to graduate by her 18th birthday. She also wrote herself a letter, and recited the letter to the staff and students on a regular basis to share with them her rededication to learning and achieving. Most obvious of all, Mariah started attending both morning and afternoon sessions. Finding a Spanish class extremely difficult, Mariah would go into the hallway to record her lessons daily. At that time, she would past by the program director’s office and reminded the PD of her goal. She was determined, dedicated and unstoppable.
Mariah’s hard work and perseverance paid off when she was presented her high diploma on June 13, and was awarded $60,000 in scholarships to continue her educational journey. In addition to achieving her own goal, Mariah served as a model for other students, by proving to them that every student can learn and succeed.
EdisonLearning UK’s partner, Kingsthorpe College, is again planning a seven day return visit to the Chicago-area, to expand and develop the discoveries made during our visit in 2016 with the new cohort of Year 12 Take Flight students. Their itinerary would include: a visit to an elementary school, an inner-city main stream high school, and a university (such as Loyola University). They also plan to re-visit Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, and the Chicago-area Bridgescape Academies.
The trip is intended to continue the links, both cultural and educational, between Kingsthorpe College and its U.S. partner schools, as well as further develop an understanding of the different education systems in both countries. While in 2016, the UK students were able to learn a great deal about the education system in America, the students felt that they would like to know more about the transition to and from high school and the process of achieving a high school diploma.
The UK students have also continued to develop the Social Justice project they began at TRCCA and would like to be able to continue and develop this further – the issue they chose, healthcare, will continue to be high profile especially in light of recent political changes.
Travelling to Chicago offers a unique and exceptional opportunity for the Kingsthorpe students to experience America, its culture and education system and politics, as well as allowing them to share their own cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences. There is no doubt that the students who were part of Take Flight this year have benefitted hugely from it and the circulation of information about the trip to the students of Kingsthorpe College has been well received.
The photo is of the Kingsthorpe College students who will participate on this year’s Project Take Flight. It was taken at a recent fund raising ball to help finance the trip. The students are (left to right): Corey Churchman, Conor Cotter, Abbie Coleman - Deputy Director of English at Kingsthorpe College, Northampton, and Harvey Gaskill. Seated (left to right) are: Olivia Boyce and Abigail Medland.
The Florida State Department of Education has released its 2016-17 ratings for all of the public schools in the state, and five of the six EdisonLearning/Mavericks schools received the highest or mid-range ratings.
Unlike many other states, Florida law provides specific school improvement ratings for alternative schools that provide dropout prevention and academic intervention services. Instead of a standard letter grade, alternative schools may elect to receive a school improvement rating in lieu of a grade. The school improvement rating identifies schools as having one of the following ratings defined according to rules of the State Board of Education: “Commendable”, “Improving”, “Maintaining”, “Declining”, and “Unsatisfactory”.
The school improvement ratings are based on learning gains comparisons between the current and prior year. The percentage of students making learning gains at the school are compared to the percentage of students (from the same population) making learning gains in the prior year.
Andrews High School in Pompano Beach, Chambers High School in Homestead, and Main Street High School in Kissimmee all received the highest rating of “Commendable”. Mavericks High in North Miami, and Mavericks High in Palm Springs both received a rating of “Maintaining”.
Throughout EdisonLearning’s school network, there were 11 Graduation Ceremonies over the past month, representing 14 schools, and more than 1,000 high school diplomas were awarded. Congratulations to all of the members of the Class of 2017.
EdisonLearning Alternative Learning Programs Have Now Produced More Than 2,500 High School Graduates
Since EdisonLearning opened Bridgescape Academies in Ohio in 2011; the company’s alternative learning program has grown and resulted in more than 2,500 students earning their high school diplomas in six states.
Just as important as the total number of graduates, has been the progressive rise in the overall yearly graduation rate.
The 10 Graduation events, which will conclude this weekend in Dayton, have awarded 639 high school diplomas (nearly double previous year numbers) in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, as well at six locations in Florida.
As was stated in 2011, when the Bridgescape program was created:
“With the number one predictor of success in life being a high school diploma, EdisonLearning is accelerating its efforts to provide an effective and personalized program for those students who want to graduate from high school. The leading international educational solutions provider’s Bridgescape Dropout Recovery and Prevention Centers will provide at-risk and recently dropped-out high school students the chance to earn diplomas.”
Six years later, it is clear that the company is “advancing our belief that every student – given the right tools, support and environment – is capable of exceeding their expectations, and complete their high school education, giving them the ability to continue onto college, attend vocational school, or enter the workforce.”