State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Announces Two East Bay Middle Schools as 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools
SACRAMENTO, CA — On April 18, 2017, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson announced two east bay middle schools as 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools. These two schools included AMPS Richmond Charter Academy of Richmond and AMPS Downtown Charter Academy of Oakland, both public charter schools under Amethod Public Schools.
“We are extremely proud of our scholars and staff for this achievement,” says Jorge Lopez, chief executive officer of Amethod Public Schools. “We will continue to work hard toward reaching greatness with all of our AMPS campuses. Hats off to the AMPS Richmond Charter Academy and AMPS Downtown Charter Academy communities."
In total, 275 schools were honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards for 2017. This award recognizes California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the California State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.
“I am very impressed with the academic performance of our students and the commitment to exceptional teaching on the part of our staff. I am elated that AMPS Richmond Charter Academy is being recognized by the state for educational excellence,” says Jeff Clinton, site director of AMPS Richmond Charter Academy. “This award reinforces the hard work and dedication of our school community. We are fortunate to have supportive parents, focused students, and a devoted staff,” says Clinton.
AMPS Richmond Charter Academy and AMPS Downtown Charter Academy serve approximately 500 students in the East Bay. Their mission is to provide a rigorous college preparatory education and character development program that will prepare students from underserved communities to succeed in college and beyond.
“This award is a true testament to the hard work and dedication from our students, staff, and families,” says Angela Ortega, site director of AMPS Downtown Charter Academy. “I’m honored to be a part of such a great team and I learn something new from my students every day. We are looking forward to seeing all that they will accomplish in the future.”
To learn more about the California Gold Ribbon Schools program and see all of the schools recognized this year, visit www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/gr/.
Amethod Public Schools is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation, founded in Oakland, CA in 1993. They oversee six public charter schools in Oakland and Richmond including Oakland Charter High School, Oakland Charter Academy, Downtown Charter Academy, John Henry High School, Richmond Charter Academy, and Benito Juarez Elementary. The AMPS network flagship school, Oakland Charter Academy, is the oldest charter school in the City of Oakland, and was the twelfth school chartered in the state of California. For more information, visit amethodschools.org.
Oakland Charter Academy Featured in “What is the Achievement Gap?” a short film produced by the Walton Family Foundation
OAKLAND, CA — Oakland Charter Academy is featured in “What is the Achievement Gap,” a short film produced by the Walton Family Foundation. This is the first of six videos in a series called “Innovations in Education,” that explores fresh ideas to improve education in the U.S for kids.
“I am proud to be a part of Oakland Charter Academy and it’s an honor to be recognized by the Walton Family Foundation,” says David Camarena, site director of Oakland Charter Academy. “Being involved in this video series reinforces my beliefs in educating urban youth. Others now know of the work we do at Oakland Charter Academy.”
Located in the Fruitvale District, Oakland Charter Academy is the flagship of the Amethod Public Schools organization and is one of six public charter schools in the East Bay. They opened in the fall of 1994 as Oakland’s first charter school, and at the time, were only the fourteenth charter school authorized in the State of California. They are currently the only National Blue Ribbon School in East Oakland.
“As a little girl, growing up in a poor immigrant family, I was hungry to achieve, and I became a firm believer in the idea that a person’s ZIP code and history need not determine her future,” says Evelia Villa, Chief Academic Officer at Amethod Public Schools. “We believe in opportunity for all, no matter their situation. We believe that each of our students can achieve anything. We eliminate the excuses and hit the ground running.”
Read the blog titled, “Set High Expectations to Close the Achievement Gap” and watch the “What is the Achievement Gap” video on the Walton Family Foundation blog.
West Contra Costa Unified School District School Board of Education Approves Five-Year Renewal for AMPS Richmond Charter Academy
RICHMOND, CA — On February 15, 2017, the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a five-year renewal for AMPS Richmond Charter Academy.
“The renewal of Richmond Charter Academy is more than a victory for Amethod Public Schools, but a victory for the students and families of Richmond that want quality educational institutions,” says Michael Bradley, after school education and safety coordinator at Richmond Charter Academy.
The bi-monthly school board meeting took place at Lovonya DeJean Middle School in Richmond. Hundreds of families filled the auditorium and gym wearing yellow and black Richmond Charter Academy shirts to express their support of their charter renewal.
"Last night made a deep impression on me. The parents, students, and staff that came out in support of our school was an emotionally moving event,” says Jeff Clinton, site director of Richmond Charter Academy and John Henry High School. “As a community, we are all dedicated to a rigorous learning environment and college readiness program for our students."
Richmond Charter Academy opened its doors in 2012 and serves approximately 230 students from grades 6-8. It is a part of Amethod Public Schools, a Bay Area network of charter schools in Oakland and Richmond.
"We are overjoyed with the West Contra Costa County Unified School District’s decision to renew Richmond Charter Academy,” says Yesenia Sanchez, dean of instruction at Richmond Charter Academy. “Having a high-performing middle school like ours in Richmond will make a positive impact in students lives for years to come. We will continue to work hard and serve our community."
To learn more about Richmond Charter Academy, visit www.amethodschools.org/RCA.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen decisions coming out of the new federal administration that run counter to the values of the AMPS organization. The recent Executive Order targeting individuals from seven nations with a majority Muslim population attacks the foundation of principles and values supporting the value of our immigrant populations. The history of the United States would be none were it not for the blood, sweat, tears, and efforts of immigrants that strived to make a better world for their future generations. As a child of Mexican immigrants, I unwaveringly stand against such decisions that lack contemplation and compassion and am committed to helping support students and their families who may be threatened or affected by such misguided actions.
In moments of unsettling change, we know from past experiences that families and students will look to their schools in search of support. To make it clear, AMPS is a welcoming and inclusive community that is steadfast in our commitment to provide a safe learning environment and support every student in every one of our campus communities — regardless of background, religion, income level, beliefs, identity, country of origin, or immigration status. We find enrichment and strength in our diversity. Our actions have included reaching out proactively to immigrant and civil rights organizations providing legal and other assistance to immigrant students and families and sponsoring forums to offer information to our community. We also have studied and will finalize the adoption of our organization’s stance to protect our students and families information, and ability to attend our schools without fear.
I also want to stress that this executive order does not impact Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. While it is still unclear how the DACA program will be impacted by the new administration, rest assured we will remain vigilant in tracking this issue and advocating on behalf of the students impacted. In our community, you are not alone and as always, we will be here to assist in any way possible.
With the belief in strength in numbers — we stand together.
Chief Executive Officer
Amethod Public Schools
City of Richmond Planning Commission Approves Conditional Use Permit for John Henry High School’s Marina Bay Location in a 5-0 Vote
RICHMOND, CA — On January 19, 2017, the City of Richmond Planning Commission approved the Conditional Use Permit for John Henry High School’s Marina Bay location in a 5-0 vote. This permit allows them to complete construction on their new campus located on 1402 Marina Way South in Richmond.
“I’m satisfied that the safety plan of the school has been thought through sufficiently,” says Marilyn Langlois, a member of the City of Richmond Planning Commission. “This school already exists, it’s been approved by the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and given a charter. If we don’t give them this permit, they will have to look somewhere else. It’s part of our community and I do think this is a good site.”
John Henry High School opened in 2015 and is a part of Amethod Public Schools, a non-profit public benefit corporation in the East Bay. Amethod Public Schools operates six public charter schools in Richmond and Oakland. Their sites include Oakland Charter High School, Oakland Charter Academy, Downtown Charter Academy, Richmond Charter Academy, Benito Juarez Elementary and John Henry High School.
"Today I am extremely proud of the City of Richmond leaders, our families, staff, and students who demonstrated a commitment to continue this important work together," says Jorge Lopez, chief executive officer of Amethod Public Schools. “Amethod Public Schools is committed to making sure that all Richmond students, regardless of income levels, color of skin, and opposition will persevere forward and become the city’s future leaders.”
Benito Juarez Elementary is currently located at 1450 Marina Way South in Richmond and will be adjacent to John Henry High School. They are scheduled to open their new campus to the community for the 2017-2018 school year.
“It’s a beautiful place and nice for the students to have access to the trail and also the Rosie the Riveter Museum. I imagine they could walk to it easily for a lot of enrichment activities,” says Langlois.
Amethod Public Schools is currently accepting applications for all six of their schools through February 17, 2017. For more information, visit www.AmethodSchools.org.
RICHMOND, CA - In the spirit of the holidays, Benito Juarez Elementary hosted its annual food drive where they raised a total of 1,100 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Over the course of a couple of weeks, students from each class brought in canned and packaged goods to donate that resulted in 916 meals.
Since, 1975, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has served our community and distributes food directly to those in need. They also partner with other non-profit organizations in the area to reach more even more people throughout Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Their mission is to not only deliver food, but to also reduce food waste and raise public awareness of issues related to food and hunger.
Learn more about how you can help this cause at https://www.foodbankccs.org.
OAKLAND, CA - As the holiday season begins and the year comes to a close, it’s important to take the time to say thank you to your leaders, administrators, and teachers to let them know how much they are appreciated.
Here are three ways you can thank your team throughout the year:
1. Surprise your staff with an after-school social
At the beginning of the day, place a banana along with the a note including the above cartoon in each person’s mailbox that says “Find out why you received this fun surprise. Head to Room ____ after school!” Once the school day is over, surprise them with a banana split ice-cream social with all of their favorite fixings.
2. Host your own version of a “Paint Night” in the daytime
Paint night events are popular on the social scene because they are fun to attend, allow you to be creative, and don’t require experience. With this in mind, provide your staff with your own version of this event during the day to give them a space to unwind, socialize, and create their own painting to take home.
This month, Oakland Charter High School hosted an “Eat, Paint, & Be Thankful” event for their administration and teachers to show their appreciation for all the hard work they had done throughout the year for their students. Check out the video below to see a glimpse of their event.
3. Be a Coffee Hero
Working in education means early mornings to prepare your classroom, print out teaching materials, and even tutor students who arrive before school begins. Thank your staff by bringing in coffee and bagels to brighten their day.
RICHMOND, CA - At Richmond Charter Academy, students have the opportunity to participate in an After School Educational and Safety program, also known as ASES, that offers fun, interactive, and educational activities outside of the classroom. One of their favorite weekly traditions includes pulling out the chess boards and challenging their friends to a friendly game of strategy, focus, and creativity. Research shows that learning to play a game like chess is not just a fun game to play outside of the classroom, but actually teaches them skills that can help them improve their learning abilities.
Here are three reasons why your student should play chess:
1. Its helps them learn problem-solving skills
Chess has become a popular sport to play in schools because it teaches students to strategize, focus, and make decisions in order to achieve their main objective – capture their opponent’s king. Playing chess is not the simplest of games and challenges students to learn about multiple topics at once. In order to play, they must learn how to set up a board, the roles of each of their game pieces, and adopt an, “if-then” type of thinking. Through the process of becoming an effective chess player, students improve their problem-solving skills that helps pave the way for more in-depth critical thinking in the future.
2. It improves concentration and memory
When playing chess, your goals include keeping as many of your own pieces on the board, protecting your king, eliminating your opponents pieces, and of course, capturing your opponent’s king. With these objectives in mind, students learn to concentrate on the tasks at hand and make strategic moves that will allow them to stay in the game until the end. Being that students will likely play chess with some of the same people over and over, it also enhances their memory as they may begin to remember their opponent’s strategies and what has worked for them in the past.
3. It increases self-confidence
Not only is chess fun and educational, it also makes students more confident. They learn to think on their feet and make quick decisions which translates not just on the board, but in their own personal lives. There is nothing better than winning a chess game to increase your self-esteem!
Learn more about Richmond Charter Academy at amethodschools.org/RCA.
BAY AREA, CA - We are excited to announce that the first cohort of AMPS Career Path Teachers has been selected!
The AMPS Up and Coming Leader (UCLP) Career Path is a comprehensive talent pipeline system that provides our teachers and aspiring school leaders with a coordinated pathway for growth, development and increased compensation. This innovative new system will allow our educators to take on new roles and responsibilities while continually advancing their teaching effectiveness and leadership skills in service to our students.
The 2016 cohort had their applications reviewed by multiple readers using a rubric to score the five primary components of the teacher’s portfolio:
They then presented the results to the committee of 15 AMPS leaders and Home Office team members where a final consensus decision was made. The process provided multiple components of a teacher’s practice to be considered in a balanced way and involved multiple reviewers.
The 2015-16 recipients demonstrated a multi-year track record of effective practice, leadership, and most importantly, growing their students both in academics and character.
AMPS is proud to recognize the following career path promotion recipients: