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30 Days of Grad: Azianay Davis

Azianay Davis For today’s 30 Days of Grad post, we sat down with Azianay Davis, a graduate of Rauner College Prep—a campus of the high-performing Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago—to learn about her school experience and her plans for the future.

National Alliance: What makes Rauner College Prep special? Why are you proud to call it your school?

Azianay: Rauner is equipped with an amazing and dedicated team of college counselors whose goal is to make sure 100% of seniors are accepted to, and graduate from, college. Some days they work more than ten hours, staying after school to assist students with time-consuming scholarship and college applications. The small team works with over 100 seniors to help them reach their goals for college and beyond. I am proud to be a Rauner student because the staff is so devoted and passionate.

National Alliance: How has your school helped you achieve your goals?

Azianay: Rauner and its college team helped me get into my dream college, the University of Chicago, on a full-ride scholarship. I worked with my counselor, Ms. Turner, to hone my essays and submit all required materials. My other counselor, Mrs. Pinkston, also helped me with my application to become a Questbridge Scholar, and in the fall I will be a member of University of Chicago’s Questbridge branch.

National Alliance: Do you have an example of how a teacher helped you overcome a particular challenge?

Azianay: The 2014-2015 school year was the first year that Rauner offered a public speaking class. My speech teacher, Mr. Rotkvich, has pushed me all year to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there in front of the class. His support has made me more confident inside and outside of class, and today I find myself more willing and excited to have my voice heard.

National Alliance: What are your plans for the future?

Azianay: I will attend the University of Chicago and plan on double majoring in English and Sociology.

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Riya Anandwala

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Hall of Fame 2015

The National Alliance has announced its 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees: Senator Mary Landrieu, Nelson Smith and Dr. Deborah McGriff.

Mary LandrieuFormer Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu spent 35 years in public service, demonstrating her passionate commitment to children and families as a Louisiana state legislator, state treasurer and U.S. senator.
Nelson SmithNelson Smith is senior advisor to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. From 2004 to 2011 he was president and CEO and then senior advisor to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Deborah McGriffDeborah M. McGriff is a managing partner with NewSchools Venture Fund where she focuses on closing the demographic gap between students, executive leaders and governing boards.

These individuals are being recognized for their pioneering efforts in the growth of charter schools, their long-term commitment and contributions to charter schools, and their innovative ideas and successful implementation of those ideas.

Congratulations to our new inductees! We are grateful for their contributions to the growth of effective, high-quality public charter schools that now serve nearly three million students.

Riya Anandwala

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Study: Charter School Students in LA Report Higher Graduation Rates, SAT Scores

According to a new study by the California Policy Center, Los Angeles Unified School District’s charter high schools perform significantly better than the district’s traditionally operated public schools, despite receiving a lower per student funding amount.

This report offers more evidence about the positive impact of charter schools on students, communities and the public education system. Specifically, the study found charter students had higher performance rates on three counts:

Academic Performance Index scores: 762 vs. 701

Graduation rates: 92 percent vs. 84 percent

Normalized SAT scores: 1417 vs. 1299

Just last month during National Charter Schools Week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a report that profiles ten big cities with a large wait list of student names to attend charter schools. Los Angeles has the second largest wait list with more than 68,000 students. The wait list numbers – which are over a million nationwide – along with strong academic performance is case in point for the need of additional federal money to help start new charter schools, especially in cities where the wait lists are in the tens of thousands.

This study is an excellent showcase of what charter schools are achieving in one of the biggest cities in the nation, and a reminder that a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for every family. There are thousands of students who could benefit from a charter school education and accomplish the kind of academic excellence that prepares them for a solid college career.

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30 Days of Grad: Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JLRA) celebrated its first class of graduating seniors at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Jack White Theater earlier this month. The stage was shared with some some notable names, including NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and Detroit native Sean Anderson (a.k.a. Big Sean), but it was clear that the graduates were the stars of the show.

The school’s founder and namesake—an ESPN/ABC analyst and 13-year NBA star—congratulated the graduates at the ceremony and encouraged them to “make quality decisions and face adversity with a countenance of unwavering determination.” Rose also proudly announced that 100 percent of the inaugural graduating class has gained college, trade/technical school, or military acceptance.

Many students at JLRA received full scholarships to some of the top schools in the state. In total, the graduating class’s total amount of gift aid exceeded $2.1 million.

This post was adapted from a Detroit News Article by Ursula Watson. Read more about Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in the article here.

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy  |  Photos: Max Ortiz / The Detroit News

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30 Days of Grad: Mastery Charter School

Students, families, even college mascots packed the Liacouras Center at Temple University for “Signing Day,” a rally for 575 seniors at Philadelphia’s five Mastery charter high schools to declare where they’ll be going to college.

Mastery CEO Scott Gordon says Signing Day is modeled after the hoopla around when a high school athlete declares. “We think an even bigger deal is when a student commits to following through on their education and going on to college and graduating college,” he said.

Khang Lam, a senior at Mastery’s Thomas campus who is heading to Drexel University, said he’s glad his school celebrates college acceptance, “Not just for certain achievement like extracurriculars, but what really matter, I feel, is academics.”

This post is adapted from a CBS Philly article written by Mike DeNardo. You can read it here.

Mastery Charter School

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30 Days of Grad: Pedro Viera

When Pedro began in 6th grade, he remembers wanting to quit. “I didn’t really want to go because it was strict and I had to get up early and ride the bus across town. But my mom and Mr. Gilbert really motivated me to stay.”

Pedro was, in many ways, a very typical middle school student. He got caught up in the wrong crowd of kids and found himself getting into trouble…a lot. What is less typical is that Pedro was able to push himself forward and turn things around.

He points to many teachers he built strong relationships with that helped him along the way. Sean De Luna, his 9th grade social studies teacher, stands out to him as the one who introduced him to social justice and taught him that anyone can make it, no matter his or her race or background. Jonathan Tomick and Sarah Hampson, two of his high school English teachers, also gave him a large amount of support.

“Mr. Tomick was a very positive guy. He saw things in a very different perspective and a lot of things he said really impacted me. And Ms. Hampson just always kept pushing me and supporting me. I wish everyone had a chance to have someone like her in their life.”

“I would tell other students to build relationships with their teachers. That makes a big difference. When you need help, they’re there for you and they have a lot of opportunities for you.”

Pedro will be attending Houston Community College to complete some basic coursework and plans on becoming an electrician or a welder. But long term, he wants to transfer to a four-year college and possibly become a teacher. “It would be great to have the opportunity to work at YES Prep,” he added.

“I want to show people I can do it. People talk a lot and I want to prove them wrong. I want to show the community that anyone can do it, that I can do it. I just don’t want to stop here. I want to keep pushing forward.”

Pedro Viera graduated from YES Prep East End, part of the YES Prep charter school system based in Houston, TX, that serves about 10,000 students across 15 campuses in grade 6-12.

Pedro Viera

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30 Days of Grad: Jacob Reichard

Before earning his high school diploma (or getting his driver’s license), Jacob Reichard graduated from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs with a Bachelor of Innovation in Computer Security degree in May. At the end of the month, Jacob crossed the stage as salutatorian at the Colorado Springs Early Colleges charter school.

If graduating with a high school and college degree at the age of 17 wasn’t impressive enough, Jacob is continuing his efforts to help a man raise money for a kidney transplant. What started as a class project has turned into a continuing effort that has raised over $12,000 and holds a special place in Jacob’s heart. Whether it’s excelling at academics or making a positive difference in the world, it’s clear that this isn’t the last we’ll hear from this impressive charter school grad.

Learn more about Jacob’s accomplishments in this article by KRDO.

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30 Days of Grad: ASU Preparatory Academy

ASU Preparatory Academy is celebrating its first class of graduates this year. The school, which is operated by Arizona State University, opened a campus in downtown Phoenix as a middle school in 2008 and has since expanded to include grades K-12.

The school’s first graduating class of 131 students received their diplomas on May 28, and earned a total of $2 million in college scholarships. When asked about what it meant to be a part of the first class of graduates, the school’s valedictorian Dwayne Martin said that he is “proud and humbled.” “I hope that I can be an example for all of the classes to come,” he said.

All of the graduates will either go to college or into military service. In all, 76 percent of the graduates were accepted to four-year institutions.

Read more about these graduates and their alma mater in this AZCentral article that further profiles their tremendous successes.

ASU Preparatory Academy

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30 Days of Grad: Carlos Rosario Charter School

Over the past 40 plus years, the Carlos Rosario School in Washington, D.C. has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants by investing in and supporting their journey to achieve the American Dream. The school combines award-winning education, life skills programs, and support services to create a holistic experience. Learn about three of their graduates this year below:

Victor

Victor is a current culinary arts career training academy student planning to graduate next month. Victor, originally from El Salvador, started at the school in 2012 with a basic level of English. He has since received his food handler’s license, has taken five semesters of English, and will graduate from the school’s culinary arts program. Victor was recently promoted to head chef at Commissary restaurant in D.C. where he is putting his skills to work every day in the kitchen.

Victor

Gloria is from El Salvador and arrived to Washington, D.C. in 1991. She first started school in 1992 at Carlos Rosario, known then as Gordon School. When her six-year-old daughter arrived from El Salvador, Gloria was faced with many responsibilities and she couldn’t attend school. In 2003 she returned to Carlos Rosario and studied Workplace Computers and she earned her citizenship in 2006, thanks in part to assistance she received through the school’s citizenship program. This past fall Gloria completed our highest level of English and will be crossing the stage with her classmates at graduation.

Victor

Nicodeme came to the U.S. from Cameroon to reunite with his mother and siblings, and pursue his dreams. Since primary school, he decided that he would become a doctor and achieve the highest level of education. “My main aim is to become a great and respected person. I want to walk around and have people say ‘that’s Nicodeme,’” he says. With his goals in mind, he started taking English and GED classes at the Carlos Rosario School. In a little over two years, he finished from the school’s highest ESL level. He will be graduating this spring from the GED program with his high school diploma equivalent. With the GED under his belt, he hopes to start a pre-med program at a local university, and become a doctor by the age of 27.

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30 Days of Grad: Mater Charter High School

According to a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics, about a three out of five undergraduates who are the first-generation college students complete a degree within six years. Further, 44 percent will never earn a degree. These odds paint an unwelcoming picture for students who wish to be first in their families to graduate from college. But for three students at Florida’s Mater Academy Charter School, they didn’t let the possibility of failure cloud their vision of earning a college diploma. In fact, they didn’t even wait until they received their high school diploma to earn a college degree.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald Staff

Meet Edwin Morales, Maria Saenz, and Carlos Eguiluz Rosas. They have each completed their associate’s degree while attending classes at Mater. While their reasons for hopping on the fast track to an additional diploma vary, these students all have big dreams and bright futures. Morales is bound for Brandeis University in Massachusetts with a full tuition scholarship, Saenz has received a Posse Family Foundation Scholarship and is headed to Hamilton College in New York to pursue a major in International Relations and Latino Studies, and Eguiluz Rosas is the recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has up to 10 years of college paid for.

Read more about these graduates in this Miami Herald article that further profiles their tremendous successes. Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald Staff

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