Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy has many exciting and unique characteristics that show just how strongly the school aligns with the goals and values of Unconditional Education. For example, the entire campus practices mindfulness through the MindUP curriculum and staff addresses issues of behavior and equity through a restorative justice approach. Cisneros also supports the social-emotional well-being of students with the support of six onsite mental health specialists, provided in partnership with the LA Child Development Center. In order to meet the needs of the Echo Park community and the youth and families supported by the neighboring Dream Center (which provides shelter relief and transitional housing to over 500 individuals and families), the school openly acknowledges the importance of building a trauma-informed community of care on its campus.
Sandra Cisneros is one of five schools supported by Darrell Lane, one of our program’s Behavior Intervention Coaches. At Cisneros, Darrell’s work this year has focused on building the capacity of teachers and staff in providing effective behavioral support to the school’s highest-need students and classrooms. After working with school leadership to identify priority students and staff in need of support, Darrell began cycles of observation and coaching with a targeted group of teachers to help build their confidence and skills in building relationships and managing behaviors with students in their classroom. Darrell also meets weekly with two of the school’s assistant principals and its lead therapist, and participates in weekly COST meetings to discuss the school’s “heart” students that are in need of some extra love. All in all—a pretty full plate considering he’s only at Cisneros one day a week!
It was clear from our first weeks on campus this fall how eager teachers were for Darrell’s support, and teachers across campus have been open to new ideas and receptive to the coaching Darrell has provided. In addition, the grant we received has allowed us to provide a few professional developments to the Sandra Cisneros community from the UE Foundations Series, with our final training coming next week. Overall, it’s been exciting to see how much Darrell has been able to help “move the needle” on a number of students’ success stories even during this first half the school year.