This content was based off of resources from the Healthier Generation Library.
No matter what role you play on the School Partnership Programs’ world, there’s a lot to juggle; tasks to be tackled; feedback to be given; and relationships to be curated and developed. Something that takes special practice and skill is managing our bosses or someone who works above our particular role. I am sure many staff on site can relate, especially when working with Teachers or Principals. We, in the Schools Operations team, experience this as well when supporting Directors, Department Heads, Coaches and more!
A favorite topic from a past PLC session our group held was centered around “Managing Up.” We held constructive conversations focused on how supporting staff in various positions have worked out and how we have tackled challenging dynamics. In the spirit of sharing, we pass on this helpful video that provides some helpful tips managing UP!
New Tips for Managing Up – Project Management Training
Let us know what you think about the video above, we hope you find it just as helpful as we did!
The fall school year is coming to an end, and what a fall it has been. I would like to highlight our school partnership with Learning Without Limits located in Oakland, CA. Learning Without Limits is a K-5 school in the Fruitvale neighborhood that strongly believes in the balance between constructivist learning and knowledge-based learning. The mission of Learning Without Limits is to provide rigorous, culturally relevant, and empowering education grounded in caring, leadership, achievement, and perseverance. The school is founded on the belief that caring relationships allow students to lower their affective filter, facilitating learning.
As a partnership, our goal is to build community. The greatest example from this year took place after a tragic event. Sadly, a long-time staff member at Learning Without Limits lost their life in a tragic car accident. That individual’s family was devastated, staff were devasted, students were devasted, and the healing process is only just beginning. On the day students returned to school, our UE School Partnership Community went into full action mode, and the goal was to meet students and staff where they were to process such a horrific incident.
How was that accomplished?
By showing up. We reached out to our Light the Change community and gathered clinicians, supervisors, executive directors, and our CPO to support a campus in need. The amount of support we provided on campus reflects how our program partnership is exemplifying unconditional care. This school year we have shown up for our students, our families, and our staff on campus, in the greatest way possible, with love and understanding.
This event speaks to a common quote, “You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you react."
Name: Erika Maravilla
Position: School Psychologist
What led you to your current position? What led me to my current position was my work as an after school program coordinator and summer program leader within Oakland Parks and Recreation. I worked with a variety of children of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, communities, racial demographics, abilities, etc. I saw the differences in educational privileges, inequities, opportunities, and resources based on zip code. I found myself individualizing the tutoring support I provided at the after school program and, after shadowing my cousin (a school psychologist) at her school placements for a few days, I knew I wanted to have a career as a school psychologist to help bridge the education gap for our most vulnerable student populations and bring my work into the community that raised me, East Oakland. I transitioned to school-based work as an MHC with Seneca to gain more in class experience before enrolling in graduate school and embarking on my school psych journey.
What inspires you to do this work? What inspires me is the relief and appreciation I get from families for supporting them in navigating the complicated world of special education; advocating for their child; and explaining things in an understandable way that makes sense while leveraging their students strengths to support their areas of growth. Also, the relationships I build with students, families, and school partners are rewarding.
What is a recent highlight you’ve experienced in the work or an important lesson you’ve learned in this role? An important lesson I’ve learned in this role is that self care and proper work-life boundaries are not only important, but necessary.
Share your life motto or something unique about yourself. “Everything negative -pressure, challenges- is all an opportunity for me to rise.” - Kobe Bryant
In the heart of Hayward, you will find Brenkwitz Alternative High School, where Seneca has been partnering with Hayward Unified School District for the past 11 years to provide a counseling enriched classroom for students who need an alternative path to realizing their graduation dreams. The program blends individualized academics focused on credit recovery and career readiness with a specially trained Seneca mental health team that works closely with each student to boost attendance, participation, wholistic mental health, positive community connections, and the concrete skills needed to prepare for college and careers.
On any given day, you’ll find the Brenkwitz team hosting career fairs, leading therapy and art groups, working with clients on college applications or job interview skills, and helping their students find the interests and passions that bring them joy. Over the past seven school years, the team has supported sixty-nine students who first arrived at Brenkwitz – whom were credit deficient and unsure of their ability to graduate from high school – eventually walk across the graduation stage and earn their diploma.
This year, the Brenkwitz team is piloting a new Student Voices project to capture the inspiring stories of the students who graduate from their program and share their advice and lessons learned with future students. Our first graduate of the 2021/2022 school year, whom we’ll call M, sat down with Brenkwitz classroom therapist, Rachel Williams, to reflect on her journey with us. The transcript of this conversation is shared with permission below.
Rachel: “What have you learned about yourself during your time in school?”
M: “I’ve learned a lot about my personal strengths in school. I’ve figured out how capable I am of controlling my future and doing whatever I want to do in life.”
Rachel: “What are some ways you can see your own growth?”
M: “Some ways I can see my personal growth is that I am able to keep positive relationships and have fun in a school environment.”
Rachel: “What have you gotten out of school?”
M: “What I’ve gotten out of school is a lot of good relationships and education on things that aren’t taught in normal classroom settings.”
Rachel: “Like what?”
M: “Like how to work on your anxiety in a classroom and how to speak up for yourself.”
Rachel: “When you look back, do you think you are able to do that more now than you used to?”
M: “Yes, I do it more frequently and without thinking about it.”
Rachel: “Wow, that’s big. How do you think you’ve been able to do that?”
M: “With the help of the teachers and the counselors and the therapists.”
Rachel: “What’s different now than when you first started in classrooms with more support?”
M: “When I first started, I didn’t want to talk to anybody or do anything. Now I am more engaging and able to listen more to the adults around me.”
Rachel: “What do you think changed?”
M: “My desire to get a better education and better myself.”
Rachel: “What does graduating high school mean to you?”
M: “Graduating high school is a huge accomplishment for me, because there was a point in time where I didn’t want to graduate, and I never thought I was going to make it this far. It inspires me to keep moving on in life and just take one thing at a time.”
Rachel: “What would you say to kids in the future who might join a class like ours?”
M: “What I would say to kids in the future would be that it’s ok to accept help and it’s ok to be in a classroom that is different from everyone else because you will have a lot of fun experiences, and meaningful experiences.”
Rachel: “What are your aspirations beyond high school?”
M: “I want to be a person who can make a difference in someone else’s life, and I want to go on to college and experiment about what I can do for a career. I want to start at a two-year college and find out what I want to do then, then go on to school to do whatever I need to do to get that career that I want.”
Rachel: “That’s a good plan. Any final words of reflection or encouragement or wisdom to share?
M: “Just don’t give up no matter how hard it gets.”
Rachel: “I think that says it all.”
This week, we take the opportunity to highlight our partnership with Lodestar, A Lighthouse Community Public School, whose core values are Love, Community, Integrity, Agency, and Social Justice.
Lodestar is located in the Sobrante Park neighborhood in deep East Oakland, and serves grades K-10. Lodestar provides rigorous instruction and love along with high-order thinking and problem solving skills to give students the autonomy to center their own learning and set the foundation for being changemakers in the world. When schools evolve and root themselves into the community, it builds public trust and long-lasting relationships are created. Lodestar's genuine commitment to their core values has led to their dynamic partnership with community organization Sobrante Park Resident Action Council (RAC). Lodestar and Sobrante Park RAC partnership strengthens the community, connects families to resources, hosts family friendly events, and collaboratively advocates for what is best for students. Lodestar is committed to sharing community interest while promoting a safe and thriving community.
– “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
Lodestar and the Sobrante Park RAC has focused on a safe passage to and from school for all students and families as well as embedding the school and its staff into the community in which it serves. As a result, Lodestar has worked in partnership to host and/or participate in community events on the weekend. Rich Harrison, Lighthouse Community Public School (LCPS) CEO, shares that “the willingness to work with the community enables a relationship of understanding to develop. Working together for the betterment of the community.”
Check out some of the Lodestar and the Sobrante Park RAC community events this school year
Monthly Community Clean Ups: Staff members and families have participated in community cleanups surrounding Lodestar to work alongside Oakland City Council Member Treva Reid, the Sobrante Park RAC, and local business leaders! Students, families, and staff have been pitching in, and supporting the important work of advocating for our East Oakland community to address illegal dumping, blight services, and neighborhood beautification efforts!
Please check out pictures below of Rich Harrison, Lodestar staff and parents participating in community clean ups.
Rich Harrison - Anti graffiti warrior covering graffiti along the entrance to the community:
Community members, staff, and families picking up trash:
Trunk or Treat: Lodestar collaborated with the Sobrante Park RAC and other community organizations to hold a Harvest Festival Trunk or Treat on Lodestar's campus. Over 1,000 people participated including City and County staff.
Treva Reid, City of Oakland District 7 Council Member with Making Moves Motorcycle Club:
Dr. Thompson (OUSD School Board Member District 7) with
Tunisia Adams (Lodestars’ Families in Action Parent Leader):
Lodestar will have other opportunities to partner with the community and support neighborhood efforts to help: work in collaboration with their community, listen to their needs, follow their lead, and connect families to resources, and overall, do what’s best for all students and families.
Shoutout to Rich Harrison (LCPS CEO), Erin Wesseldine (LCPS Director of Special Education), Zeyda Garcia (Lodestar Lead Counselor), and my mom, Sylvia Brooks (Secretary of Sobrante Park RAC) for helping me highlight the amazing way in which Lodestar is working in partnership with the community to make sure all students are welcomed, cared for, included, seen, safe, supported, and can thrive!
“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
As we reacclimate to in-person instruction, we may find ourselves questioning how we are going to adjust and achieve our goals. This was the case as our Ops PLC entered its 2nd year. In an effort to ground ourselves and guide the purpose of the group for the upcoming year, we used a very helpful exercise to set our intentions. This exercise was originally written by Jason Keppe, Director of School Partnerships, for his team. We decided to carry it on through our Ops PLC as we envision how we want our new team to grow & learn from each other.
You can find a link to his reflection exercise by clicking here:
INTENTION SETTING EXERCISE
Feel free to make a copy of this and follow the prompts to guide you through the new year!
By our Ops Team completing this exercise, we were able to create our values (firm compassion, joy, community, authenticity, sense of vulnerability and shared knowledge), and our focus areas for the year (project management, communications styles, and learning styles). My hope is that you find the exercise as beneficial as we did.
It’s also helpful to ground yourself before completing this exercise, so feel free to try this 5 Minute Focus & Clarity Meditation or any meditation that works for you.
October has just passed. We all hunkered down for rainy day recess and festivity prep. Although our Unconditional Education Coach, Trell Sneed, just started at the beginning of last month, students know him by name and eagerly greet him with a smile. He is well loved and well connected to the community. He brings wisdom and insight as we embark on our second-year partnership with Stege Elementary in Richmond.
The Stege Starts are launching back into the fall with coordination and experience under their wings. Last year, in partnership with the Unconditional Education Coach, Stege was able to implement Tier I Positive Behavior Support Intervention services, earning them a bronze medal!
Through the support of the district fund and site contributions, we have been lucky enough to partner with Stege in the capacity of an Unconditional Education Coach for two days a week. Stege has a strong and collaborative mental health team that has partnered with Admin for years in building out systems of support. They are committed to growing these existing data-driven systems in ways that support their teachers, students, community, and staff. Trell is already hard at work in supporting a wide range of needs through building an interdisciplinary team to Coordinate Services and reconnecting the Culture and Climate Committee (C3) with the goals they worked hard to develop last Spring.
The C3 team is eager to make moves toward their two big buckets:
The mental health industrial complex needs a massive overhaul. Rooted in white supremacy values, it has inflicted undue pain and suffering on marginalized populations for far too long. While continuing to address mental health needs is an important part of our work within Unconditional Education, it is critical that it is done in a way that is responsive to the needs of individuals and communities instead of imposing a heteronormative, white, Eurocentric definition of illness and healing.
If you weren't already aware of this PBS program on Decolonizing Mental Health as part of their "Mysteries of Mental Illness" Program, please check it out! There are 17 videos ranging from 3-5 minutes profiling thought leaders and advocates in the field on topics including:
You can find the video series from PBS using the link below:
Mysteries of Mental Illness: Decolonizing Mental Health digital series
If you decide to check out their series, please share your reflections below in the comments.
Name: Joleigh Davis-McBryan
Position: Lead Clinical Intervention Specialist
What led you to your current position? My undergraduate degree was in Social Welfare, and my first job out of college was at Seneca in the San Leandro Residential Program! I left Seneca in 2010 to go to graduate school and study Art Therapy and Marriage & Family Therapy, then worked at a few different schools and other jobs before returning to Seneca as a clinician in 2017.
What inspires you to do this work? I love kids and find them hilarious, creative, reflective, resilient, and more!
What is a recent highlight you’ve experienced in the work or an important lesson you’ve learned in this role? There are so many learning moments to choose from. One thought that I am holding close during this especially difficult year(s) is that everyone (including clients, families, and staff) is doing the best that they can with the internal and external resources that they have in their toolbelt.
Share your life motto or something unique about yourself. Something about me: In my free time I enjoy hiking and dancing, and pre-COVID I used to run a weekly swing dancing venue in Oakland. I have my fingers crossed that we will be able to start social dancing again in 2022!
All-In! Partnership Team