Tuesday, June 4, 2013

YES Prep Rockets Participate in Inaugural Recommitment Ceremony

Rockets are awarded as SBISD's MediaFest 2013 Winners
Last week, the YES Prep Northbrook students participated in their first annual Recommitment Ceremony. Family members, community supporters and teachers filled the Northbrook Middle School gym to support the Rockets as they celebrated their accomplishments and successes during the inaugural year of the charter program.

A tradition for all YES Prep campuses, the Recommitment Ceremony is designed to reengage families of current students, recommit to YES Prep's vision of sending every student to college, and to honor students with character and achievement awards.

John Lazarine, parent of a YES Prep Rocket, addresses the
families in attendance
Speakers included Founding YES Prep Northbrook School Director Cendie Stanford, YES Prep Northbrook parent John Lazarine, current student Marco Caballero and incoming Co-School Director Victor Cota. The program also featured a musical performance by students Lizette Cisneros and Courtnee Stanford. Students Chyna Rogers and Henrry Rivera helped facilitate the ceremony.

Ms. Stanford thanked her students and staff for their commitment to an exciting and rewarding first year as the inaugural class of the YES Prep Northbrook program within Northbrook Middle School. Co-School Director Mr. Cota spoke to the program saying, "This is a system that can be tough and requires a lot from the community, but I've seen it work and it is powerful."

Julian Noyola and Jasmine Razeghi with  YES Prep Northbrook
School Directors Cendie Stanford and Victor Cota
Mr. Lazarine reflected on his daughter's transition to the charter program and spoke to the parents about their important role in their students' educational experience. "We are on a journey and this ship has taken off," he shared. Lazarine encouraged parents to "stay with your students throughout the ride."

Keynote student speaker Marco Caballero thanked his teachers for their guidance and direction this year and said his experience has helped him "believe in [him]self, no matter what."

Awards included SBISD's MediaFest 2013 winners, Honor Roll and Perfect Attendance Awards, Classroom Achievement Awards, and named Rocket Character Value Awards. Students Julian Noyola and Jasmine Razeghi were each named Rocket of the year. Both were nominated by their peers and teachers for having consistently demonstrated what it means to leave the school's core values in and out of school.

As families of the YES Prep Northbrook Class of 2019 left the ceremony, they pledged their continued support by signing a banner that read, "I am re-committed to the journey." While 141 6th graders move up to 7th grade, the School Directors and staff are preparing to welcome 145 new 6th graders for summer orientation as the program grows into its second year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

SKY Partnership Welcomes District Visitors

It is written in the SKY Partnership Compact that "through modeling what a functional and productive compact can look like, our collaboration will be a model for other Texas and national school districts and charters." Throughout this inaugural school year, the partnership has been fortunate to welcome visitors from across the city, state and nation to learn about our work.

Individuals from Spokane ISD and the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation meet with the WAIS Leadership Team.
Two weeks ago, the SKY team hosted a group of individuals from Spokane ISD in Washington state and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the course of three days, the group visited both a KIPP and YES Prep fully grown-out campus, the SKY partnership site at YES Prep Northbrook and Northbrook Middle School, and Westchester Academy for International Studies. The visit also included conversations with the SKY Superintendents, district and school leadership, as well as Spring Branch ISD board members.

In November, Washington state passed legislation allowing charter schools to operate in the state for the first time. The Gates Foundation choose the SKY Partnership to spotlight as a model of what is possible when district and charter schools work together.

City and district leaders from San Antonio and El Paso
spend the day with the SKY Partnership team.
Last week, the partnership welcomed a group of district and city leaders from San Antonio and El Paso, Texas. The visitors, who also came to learn about the unique way in which SBISD and KIPP and YES Prep are learning from one another while providing opportunities for students, toured KIPP Courage at Landrum Middle School and met with district and school leaders as well as board members from both SBISD and YES Prep.

While it is an honor to showcase the work of the SKY Partnership and share our initial learnings, there is much work to be done. The partnership has been preparing to double the program size at both KIPP Courage at Landrum and YES Prep Northbrook as they welcome incoming students for the 2013-2014 school year. Additionally, planning for the YES Prep at Northbrook High School program began in February of this year. The high school program will open in the fall of 2015 as the inaugural YES Prep Northbrook middle schoolers advance to 9th grade.
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