Our partnership expanded this year with the addition of the K-2 classroom. Like with anything new, there were many challenges with getting the school year started. Such factors included a whole new CEC team working together for the first time while simultaneously learning about a new campus, staff, and students. Sequoia also had a new principal starting this school year who was learning about the work that Seneca does through our partnership. Due to some school closures in OUSD and condensing of CECs, students came from various schools and districts. All our K-2 students are new to the school and each other.
Seneca staff have worked patiently, consistently, and embodied our values of compassion and unconditional care to ensure our K-2 students' needs are met on campus as well as being included to the larger school-wide community. The presence and collaboration of our staff has been crucial to advocating to meet the needs of each of our K-2 students. Though they were new as a classroom team, they quickly rallied together at the start of the year to set up a warm and welcoming classroom for students to arrive on the first day of school. They established a positive acknowledgement system to reinforce desired behaviors and reward those behaviors in ways that motivates students. They have worked to share with caregivers the classroom systems and daily student outcomes to cultivate safe, trusting relationships. Despite the bumps at the start of the year, they have remained steadfast with their systems and support and remarkable changes have taken place in a few short months.
One of the highlights of these new changes is that our K-2 CEC teacher is also a Seneca special education teacher. Myila Granberry (featured in staff highlights) carries a wealth of skills and knowledge to support the implementation of this new classroom on-site. Myila attends grade level professional learning communities to collaborate and build rapport with school staff. The focus of these learning communities is to guide and give teachers a deeper understanding of the needs of our students and to remove the stigma around special education and students in CEC classrooms. It’s only been a few months and grade level teachers are inviting our K-2 students to join them on their field trips!
With only 3 months into the school year, our Seneca team and Sequoia community are working creatively and collaboratively to strengthen our partnership on campus as well as coming together to create a warm inclusive environment for all!
Blog Post by Justina Wu, Assistant Director of School Partnerships for Rooted to Rise in Oakland