Leadership magazine May/June 2015 V 44 No 5 - Page 17
for each student, including UC a-g approved
courses, differentiation for students with
special needs and second language learners, Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) and
Career Technical Education (CTE) options,
flexible scheduling, and strong relationships
with adults who know them well.
JCCS strongly believes in honoring the
whole student, so we also offer extensive
social, emotional and behavioral support
through trauma informed care, Positive
Behavior Intervention and Support and Restorative Justice practices.
get smarter in our practice, our systems
and service delivery model, and the ways in
which we assess and monitor student learning while providing for their emotional and
rather than regular and ongoing. We have
expanded this definition of collaboration
to now focus more on networks that are
regular, fluid and evolving groups of people
who have similar beliefs and values with the
Youth experience and voice: “Listen to us”
Providing these services and supports is a
relentless process made with the best interests of students at the core of every decision.
Author Shaena Fazal writes, “Youth experience and voice should be an integral part of
policymaking and service delivery. When
asked the question, ‘If you could talk to
adults who make decisions about kids in the
juvenile justice system, what do you think
is most important for them to know about
what kids need and how to help them (for
example, what works and what doesn’t work
and why),’ the youth clearly show in their
responses that they want to feel as though
those making the decisions hear what they
have to say and that they are judged and
“The most common answer to the question about what they would say to an administrator: ‘Listen to us’” (2014).
About 18 months ago we started asking
students the questions, “How is your learning working for you?” and “How would
it look different if it was working better
for you?” and we listened. Many students
wanted more career and elective offerings,
less repetition of content, more understanding and control over their course of study,
and greater opportunities for “voice and
choice” in their learning.
Building on our strengths
We knew that in order to provide an even
stronger learning program for every student we serve, we needed to change. This
meant building upon our strengths in personal relationships and developing expansive networks and allies who could help us
At Monarch School, which serves the homeless, students grow and cook vegetables through work
with partners that include UC Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners and other local groups.
We needed networks and allies that could
provide models of simplicity that demonstrated:
1. Relentless belief – and demonstrated
behaviors toward – a growth mindset for
2. Proof of impact on improved student
learning and achievement.
3. Nimble and flexible systems that would
enhance program development.
A better job of meeting students needs
In JCCS, high student mobility, open enrollment, fluctuating student exits, lack of
consistency in instruction across the organization, significant gaps in students’ learning
histories, multiple partner agencies with different priorities, and changing federal, state
and local policies all contributed to a culture
where sometimes students’ needs were the
last to be met, even with the best of intentions by adults.
Historically, collaboration revolved
around a particular project, used the same
small group of people, and was timely
knowledge, expertise and experience we can
leverage to improve our organization’s capacity to better serve students.
These networks include groups of teachers, staff and administrator experts who
already work within JCCS; staff from our
trusted partners in SDCOE divisions; parents, families and guardians; members of
business, non-profit and community organizations; probation and county, state and
federal departments; education, including
post-secondary public and private sectors;
and national and international education,
policy, research and think-tank organizations. )=