First full academic year sees increased enrollment, full staff, and more parent and community engagement.
The first day of the 2017-18 school year at Mann UCLA Community School was marked with new backpacks, hugs of greeting after the summer break, and students anxiously scanning the class schedules that were posted on rolling white boards in the school’s entryway. Amid all the youthful excitement however, was an undercurrent of hope from the school’s most exacting constituents: its parents.
Karen Brackman, who leads the school’s PTSA chapter, has one son attending the 8th grade at Mann UCLA. She says that she chose the school because of the opportunity to serve as a parent volunteer. Jamealeta Johnson’s two sons previously attended Horace Mann Middle School before UCLA partnered with LAUSD in 2016 to collaborate around curriculum and governance at the South L.A. campus. She is now in charge of the Parent Volunteer Program and says that what parents are looking forward to the most this year is to “what UCLA has to offer.”
“We didn’t have the resources that UCLA is bringing here, and the parents have been requesting them for years,” said Johnson, who with a group of parent volunteers provided a welcome to new and returning students and parents. “They’re looking forward to a sports program, the arts, and mostly to the academics, so that [their children] could be equal to their peers in the workforce.”
Preparing students for success in college and careers is part of the mission of the Mann UCLA Community School, which aims to duplicate the success of the inaugural UCLA Community School in the Koreatown-Pico-Union neighborhood. In 2016, 99% of the graduating senior class from UCLA Community School was headed to colleges and universities.
At UCLA Mann Community School, student enrollment has increased since last year from 315 to approximately 500 on the first day of classes, the first such increase since 2004. Enrollment is up in all grade levels with two classes of 6th graders and three classes each of 7th and 8th graders, outreach efforts are continuing to fill two classes of 9th graders; there are currently 54 9th graders who are enrolled and in attendance as of August 15.
This year also sees a full faculty and school staff, as well as a larger number of parent volunteers. Ten new graduates of UCLA’s Teacher Education Program have been hired at the school, as well as a teacher of Mandarin who will help students fulfill their foreign language requirement.
“There is already [a change] in the air, because these new teachers have been trained by UCLA,” said Christine Shen, director of the UCLA Community Schools Initiative, and a graduate herself of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. “The doors are open, the students are at shared tables. It is a new school!”
“UCLA is looking forward to a very exciting year as we partner together to empower teachers, students and the community to create and sustain the Mann UCLA Community School to be a school that we are all very proud to be a part of,” says Jody Priselac, Associate Dean for Community Programs, UCLA Ed & IS. “Our work at Mann UCLA Community School is to create a new school where all of our students become self-directed and passionate learners; masters of content knowledge and skills; globally and culturally competent; and active and critical participants in our democratic society.”
Making a difference at Mann UCLA will continue throughout the school year, with the campus on the to-do list for UCLA’s Volunteer Day. Chancellor Gene Block and GSE&IS Wasserman Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco will lead UCLA undergrads in making small but impactful improvements to the campus on October 7; a similar work party was held at UCLA Mann in March. Officers from the 77th Division of LAPD have partnered with school administration to provide a safe environment, despite Mann UCLA being part of an unincorporated part of the City of Los Angeles. And a relationship between L.A. nonprofit OneWay Outreach, Inc. is in its early stages, with Mann UCLA students enjoying the organization’s basketball and mentoring activities this past summer.
For more information about Horace Mann UCLA Community School, click here.
Above: Devika Banerjee, a recent graduate of UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, meets and greets her 6th grade math and science class on the first day of school on Aug. 15 at Mann UCLA Community School.