Drake Direct

Spring 2019

Small Learning Communities- An Update.

(This article is one in a series of articles about our study and possible changes to the Small Learning Communities at Drake. Please see this link on our website to access the previous articles in the Winter 2018, January 2019 and March 2019 Drake Direct Newsletters.)


This spring, we continue to explore what is working and what improvements need to be made to our small learning community (SLC) programs. We are studying both the elements of design and function that exist within each SLC, unifying principles and structural ideas. The Innovation Team has reviewed the staff input from the fall, student focus group notes, and student survey data. We also had some input from recent graduates and a survey from our parent community. The information from all of these stakeholder groups is insightful in helping us with design ideas.


The team also completed two school visits to learn from schools that have SLCs and have recently reimagined their programs, as well. We visited both Berkeley High School and Windsor High School. Both schools have had SLCs for years, and wanted to reconsider how they serve students and what could be done better to create a more responsive and relevant program. Student needs and learning pedagogy have changed significantly in the past 25 years, since the SLC model was implemented in many schools. It is interesting to see how these schools are rethinking their approach. Finding the balance between meeting student interest and creating an equitable approach to schooling has been the top priorities for their redesign efforts. We find ourselves in the same situation.


The Innovation Team hopes to roll out a few ideas for staff consideration this month. Our next steps will include gathering feedback from the staff and making revisions to the initial ideas. We would then like to conduct feedback sessions with our students and parents in the fall. We are in a process of re-imagining what we have into what we want. We also have the challenge of making these changes while running school for our current students. To this end, we appreciate your input and involvement in our next steps and ask for your patience and understanding as we move with excitement and care into our future.

Parent Education Coffee

Tuesday, May 21st, 9am

Student Center @ Drake High School

Join Chad Stuart, Drake Assistant Principal and a panel of our Seniors to hear advice for parents about teens and high school. This event is our coffee meeting for this month and we will not hold an evening coffee. Please plan to attend this informative event brought to you by the Drake Fund!

Equity and Anti-Racism work at Drake: Students and Parents Step-Up!

SOAR Presents to Drake Staff:

On March 28, our 25 students in SOAR- Students Organized for Anti-Racism, presented an hour long lesson to the teachers about what racism and microagressions look like everyday at Drake High. This lesson included both examples of what our students hear, see and feel during their days AND ideas and suggestions for what staff members can do to help be actively anti-racist. The teachers reacted with good questions, deep reflections and a heightened commitment to our ongoing education around race, racism and anti-racism and awareness in our classrooms and hallways to call-in people who are causing microagressions at school.

Parent Equity Meeting Work:

We have met with our parents four times over the last semester to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of the race and equity issues at Drake High and in our community. We will continue to work on developing how parents can engage in the work and are moving into three work teams to dive deeper into parent engagement. First, some parents volunteered to work as a leadership team with Drake administration to understand the race and equity issues better and help steer the parent engagement work. Second, a team of parents are interested in developing parent education events, including potentially offering a Beyond Diversity workshop for our parents. Finally, a group of parents are interested in exploring the curriculum and providing insights into areas where we can deepen our equity lens across curriculum. If you are interested in this work, please watch for upcoming meetings in the fall. All are encouraged and welcome to join this involved and engaged group of parents around equity work at Drake!

Spring Time in Wellness

Spring is a busy time for Drake Wellness! Throughout the month of April, Wellness has been partnering with Counseling, Peer Resource, and School Psychologists to pilot a newly designed Suicide Awareness and Prevention presentation to all the 9th and 10th grade students at Drake. The goal of the presentation is to educate students about the primary causes of suicide, how to prevent it, and to empower them to seek support for themselves or a friend. Each student is given a depression screening at the end of the presentation and we are following up individually with students of concern as necessary.

Last week we also brought UCSF ER Talks to Drake, giving students the opportunity to hear a unique, medical perspective on what drug and alcohol use looks like in the ER and beyond. We’ve also started mandating a presentation called Just Say Know, which takes a non-judgmental, harm-reduction stance on educating students about commonly used substances for students caught on campus with any drugs, alcohol, or nicotine products.

This Spring we are also launching our Escape the Vape campaign, partnering with Ira Sachnoff, TUPE Educator & Jasmine Garrety from BACR and Coalition Connection to educate our peer health educators and help advise us in this work. We are in the process of implementing a schoolwide poster campaign, educating youth about the harms of vaping and where to get support. We are also working on developing vaping specific prevention and education workshops for students caught with vape products on campus.

As you may be aware, in January 2016 a new Affirmative Consent Law passed in California. To help our students navigate this changing landscape of sexual communication and consent our district Wellness department created curriculum to teach students about the law as it currently stands and to encourage them to carefully consider this nuanced topic.This May we will be doing Affirmative Consent trainings with all the seniors at Drake. In addition, this curriculum has been offered as PD multiple times for all TUHSD staff and at parent education events so this valuable conversation may continue at home.

If you have any questions about Drake Wellness, or would like to refer a student, please contact Katrina Southard at ksouthard@tamdistrict.org.

Peer Resource + Wellness = A Perfect Team!

The Drake High School Peer Resource Program is going through an exciting development for the 2019-2020 school year. For many years on our campus, Peer Resource allowed students to connect on issues having to do with the health and wellness of other Drake teenagers. Over the last couple of years, our newly-added Drake Wellness Program has become a robust and well-resourced center for student health and wellness. In an effort to combine the best of both worlds, the Drake Wellness Center is working closely with students in the Peer Resource Program to create a curriculum that will benefit all of our Drake students, where the Peer Resource Program can serve as a student-support branch of the Drake Wellness Center. Drake's very own, Jenny Brown will be stepping in as our new advisor for the program. Ms. Brown is currently teaching our new Bio-Medical Science course and is excited to bring her passion of student wellness and campus leadership into this wonderful Drake program. Having the expertise of the students interested in supporting their peers coupled with the resources and professional guidance of our Wellness Center creates an even stronger dynamic to assist all of our students in need. 2019-20 will be an amazing year for Peer Resource!