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News & Media

Union City celebrates the opening of a new community-designed small school

School Improvement, Youth Development

May 4, 2011

Congregations Organizing for Renewal (COR)

Parents work with COR leaders to wrap up student enrollment for the Institute of Community Leaders.

The Institute of Community Leaders (ICL) 

Union City COR celebrates the opening of a new community-designed small school with a college going culture and a focus on developing future leaders in our community

Congregations Organizing for Renewal's leaders, parents, students, and community members, in collaboration with New Haven Unified School District are celebrating as they wrap up enrollment for students of the Institute of Community Leaders (ICL) for fall 2011. The Institute of Community Leaders is a new school within a school at Logan High School. COR leaders have worked tirelessly to get small learning communities within Logan High School since 2006 as a way to better engage students, teach critical thinking, support each individual student's needs, and create career pathways for their futures. Building on the existing 9th grade level small learning community that COR helped to create, this fall will be the first semester for this small school, which will engage students from every proficiency level and advance them into high-level classes that will prepare them for a University Career. Enrollment is wrapping up now, and the school will start in the fall. 

In the fall of 2006, representatives of Logan's staff developed a six-year Tactic Plan, which included among its tactics,"We will create a safe, nurturing learning environment consisting of smaller learning communities that personalize instruction and actively engage all students in achieving our objectives. " The team responsible for this goal included parents, students, teachers, staff, and community representatives. As part of an overarching desire to re-imagine what can be possible for Union City's youth, particularly students of color and low-income students, the ILC will bring to fruition a youth that is inspired to lead and contribute to their communities, and steer clear of gang violence or the temptations of crime.

The team worked with Stanford Redesign Network, who surveyed several Logan students, and found that many students felt "invisible and uninspired", and for whom expectations were "optional"

After launching and implementing small learning communities at the 9th grade levels as a pilot, teachers, faculty, and families have found that increased autonomy has helped to make decisions based on individual students' needs and performance.

Since then, COR leaders have been both partners in the design and enrollment process for an inclusive, community-based approach, conducting several community forums, and hundreds of 1-1's to help shape the desired outcome for the new school.

The Curriculum satisfies all A-G requirements for the University of California system, student advisors will be assigned to students for all 4 years, block scheduling will reflect the same pattern as university instruction.  The smaller, more personalized learning environment will create a smaller family-like environment.

COR parents and community leaders will continue to shape the school after its initial launch to maintain a culture of community involvement, and consistently improve student success!

Hector, an 8th grader who just enrolled in the ICL shared that he did so because he wants to get a college preparatory experience, he is excited about more intimate classroom environment, and that this will compliment his academic aspirations, and provide the type of supportive environment for his success.

Submitted by Claudia Morales, Communications and Fund Development Coordinator, Congregations Organizing for Renewal