On June 14, the five Chicago area Bridgescape Academies held their third graduation ceremony at Roberto Clemente High School. Before a packed audience of more than 800 parents, guardians, family members, friends, and Bridgescape staff, Ms. Tara Lawrence conferred high school diplomas upon 203 graduates. It was an evening of excitement, tears, smiles, and so many positive emotions. These students, who were on the verge of not being successful in achieving their high school diploma, have been given the chance to progress forward through Bridgescape Learning Academies.
The graduates were encouraged through an inspiring commencement address given by Dr. Sabrena L. Davis, Student Success Director of EdisonLearning’s Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, Indiana. She told them her personal account of how she overcame the struggles of her youth as she matriculated through school to ultimately obtain her post-secondary and post-graduate degrees. Dr. Davis told the graduates that “Tea Bags Live on Bridges”. The central theme of her message was one of hope, determination, and faith.
The “Magic Award” was bestowed upon five of the graduates, who were honored and recognized by their principals for reaching their high school educational goals despite having to overcome various obstacles in their personal lives. Like many of the students who seek out Bridgescape, these outstanding students also had stories, ones of travailing, persisting, and triumphing. The graduates were Shermaine Sewell – Brainerd Campus, Telan Lucas – North Lawndale Campus, Titochie Figures – Englewood Campus, Tatiana Brown – Roseland Campus, and Martin Ovalle – Humboldt Campus.
The success of Bridgescape Learning Academies in Chicago has been realized through the support of our many partners. Each year during graduation, Alderman Carrie Austin, alderman of the 34th Ward, where our Roseland Campus resides, recognizes two of our outstanding students: Jayla Lott and Tatiana Brown. Each student received a plaque and monetary gift from the Alderman’s Education Foundation. These gifts were presented during the graduation ceremony by a representative from the Alderman’s Office.
From their opening in 2013, Chicago Bridgescape Academies have graduated 320 students who, otherwise, may have been unsuccessful in the traditional high school environment in achieving their high school diploma.
EdisonLearning Enhances Alternative and Virtual Education Solutions with Innovative Project-Based Learning Curriculum
EdisonLearning, the leading international educational solutions provider, is enhancing its alternative and virtual education solutions with the addition of a new project-based learning curriculum. This initiative is being advanced in partnership with Global Learning Models (GLM), and the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) – a regional educational service agency in Pennsylvania serving 24 member school districts.
With the 2016-17 school year, project-based learning curriculum, developed by Global Learning Models (GLM), will be incorporated with EdisonLearning’s eCourses and utilized throughout its partnership school network to help students capitalize on their own strengths, learning styles, and interests by applying them to coursework.
“This new project-based learning curriculum highlights our sincere belief that it is only through collaborative partnerships that we will advance the goals of education – specifically in raising academic achievement and preparing students for college and a career,” said Thom Jackson, EdisonLearning’s President and CEO. “Both Global Learning Models and CAIU are among the most competent and committed working in education today, and we are proud to have them as our partners.”
In addition, EdisonLearning is re-establishing the original brand name to its alternative learning program that provides an effective and personalized educational option for those students who want to graduate from high school. Bridgescape Learning Academies have, since their inception in 2010, awarded 2,000 at-risk and dropped-out high school students their high school diplomas.
“With as many as one quarter of our students not finishing high school,” said Mr. Jackson, “Bridgescape Learning Academies continue to advance our belief that every student – given the right tools, support and environment – is capable of exceeding their expectations, and complete their high school education, giving them the ability to continue onto college, attend vocational school, or enter the workforce.”
As result of a 2011 strategic alliance with Magic Johnson Enterprises, Bridgescape Centers were re-branded as Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. “We are honored to have partnered with Mr. Earvin Johnson, who helped to increase public visibility of the Bridgescape program, and boost public awareness of the dropout crisis in our country,” said Mr. Jackson.
Bridgescape Learning Academies are designed for high school-age students who have already left school, or who are at risk of leaving, and want to earn a standard high school diploma. Unlike a traditional school setting, the Bridgescape program is a blend of one-on-one and group instruction, which will now be infused with the new project-based learning interactive offerings specifically tailored for each individual student.
Bridgescape Learning Academies in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Norfolk, Durham, and Bridgeton, NJ helped more than 2,200 high school dropouts and at risk students during the current school year complete their education, earn their diplomas, and prepare to enter college or receive the necessary credentials to get a job upon graduation. New Bridgescape Learning Academies will be opening this year in Dayton, Ohio and Gary, Indiana.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of students, who enroll in Bridgescape, complete the program and earn their diploma - which is higher than the national graduation rate for all schools.
Two hundred and forty years ago this July 4, delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. While the optimal phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” is known world-wide, lost to history is the fact that the final declaration was significantly modified from the original drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
The Declaration's central point – “that all men are created equal” - was an obvious rebuke to the institution of slavery. However, delegates from primarily slave colonies pushed, and prevailed, for the deletion of Jefferson's more detailed passage on slavery, which was removed from the final document. The inconsistency of the institution of slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented, but never rectified until the adoption of the 13th Amendment to Constitution in 1865.
Throughout its history, the United States has struggled to maintain its founding principles, while at the same time address the ever-present questions that derive from a diverse multi-racial, multi-ethnic pluralistic society. Such challenges are especially prevalent in the current presidential election campaign.
The vast majority of our citizens believe that “equal” does in fact mean “equal”. Yet, as much as the United States was founded on the idea that we are all created equal; economic, racial, and educational inequality have become key themes in our civic discourse. Once thought to be “the great equalizer,” American education today is not providing equal opportunity to all children.
According the Education Equity Index:
- Only two in 10 students from low-income families attend schools that have successfully closed the achievement gap.
- In most major U.S. cities, the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their more advantaged peers stagnated or grew since 2010.
- Only six percent of students from low-income families in the largest 100 U.S. cities attend a school with no achievement gap.
In addition, countless school districts – in large urban centers, cities, towns, and rural areas – are confronted with dramatic shortfalls in education funding. The Chicago Public Schools has a $1 Billion deficit; Detroit Schools a $617 Million deficit; Durham Schools a $16 Million deficit; Norfolk Schools an $8.6 Million deficit; and the Gary Community School Corporation’s total deficit is estimated at $75 Million – which is larger than their actual annual budget.
Equal opportunity to quality education is facing the harsh reality of lower local tax revenues and rising costs. Most distressing is that collateral impacts of these conditions are falling disproportionately on low-income students, and their families. But, regardless of the challenges, roadblocks, and socio-economic status there are young people who are rising up to persevere, overcome, and succeed.
Over the past month, 600 young people received high school diplomas from EdisonLearning partnership schools. This impressive number includes students who never thought they would ever finish school – but are now graduates of Bridgescape Learning Academies in five states, Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy, Provost Academy Ohio, and Provost Academy South Carolina.
Having attended the recent Bridgescape commencement ceremony in Columbus, I was overwhelmed by the grit and determination shown by so many of the graduates. Faced with unimaginable life circumstances; homelessness, averse poverty, parenthood, bullying, and abuse – each of them beamed with pride when they were handed that hard earned diploma.
Our company has accepted a significant role in shaping the future. Our product is education: the transformative power that learning, curiosity and thinking can have not only on the lives of individuals, but on society. Our ability to succeed in carrying out this role is dependent on the passion and professionalism of each and every one of us. We owe it to those young people we serve to show them the same hard work, determination, and competence they have displayed in achieving their goals.
Alone, we cannot fill education funding gaps, or ameliorate socio-economic disparities. But, we do have the ability and capacity to eliminate achievement gaps, and to prepare young people both academically and in character development to overcome socio-economic disparities.
July 4, 1776 marks the first time in human history that individuals, bound together by a common purpose, sense of commitment, and drive to succeed rose up against domination by a monarch. They did so to create a society in which every citizen had equal opportunity to succeed. It was the ultimate “team effort”, and the continued impetus for all of us to work together for the benefit of others.
On June 24, Norfolk Public Schools’ (NPS) Open Campus/Bridgescape program awarded high school diplomas to its class of 2016.
In congratulating the students, NPS said: “This program has given you the support and direction to overcome obstacles experienced in a traditional high school environment. The demands outside of school can sometimes make traditional classes difficult to attend - that’s why we developed a customized program to meet your needs. School counselors have helped you get back on track. Now, you've earned a standard diploma by outlining the critical steps toward finding a career, enrolling in college or completing a technical degree. Congratulations! You are prepared for the next chapter of your lives.”
On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 35 students from the George V. Voinovich/Bridgescape Learning Academy in Cleveland, Ohio received their diplomas before an assembly of 700 friends, family and supporters. Ms. Kym Seller a well-known Ohio radio personality delivered the Keynote address focused on determination and overcoming obstacles. Ms. Seller is the founder of the Kym Sellers Foundation which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for multiple sclerosis research and awareness. Sophomore students Vania Johnson and her younger brother Kendrick performed and string duet of violin and base. Prior to the Commencement exercises, senior students enjoyed a luncheon with GVRA staff.