The A-B-C² Monthly

APRIL 2021 - The Eagle Rock/Highland Park CoS Newsletter

Opening Letter

by Titus Campos, Community of Schools Administrator

Indeed, this has been a year with many challenges. During these last few months of the 2020-2021 school year there are updates still coming out. As Confucius said: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." As the Eagle Rock/Highland Park Community of Schools, we have grown resilient together and will do whatever it takes for our children to succeed in school.

By now you are probably aware that LAUSD is offering a hybrid in-person option to complete the 2020-2021 school year (see timeline below). I want to thank teachers, principals, assistant principals and school staff who have done an amazing job getting ready to receive students who have opted for a hybrid return.

While our focus is on a hybrid return, please know that the summer school enrichment for students in grades 6-8 registration is now open and will close on April 23, 2021. Here is the link to register: The dates of the summer school enrichment program are from June 22 through July 22, 2021. Be on the lookout for information for other grade levels.

Last week we received notice from our LAUSD Division of Instruction that students in grades 3-8 will not take the State Smarter Balanced Assessment System this school year. However, students in grade 11 will take the aforementioned assessment. Instead, students in grades 3-5/6 will take other formative assessments that they are familiar with such as DIBELS8 for literacy and Edulastic for mathematics. Middle school students will take Renaissance Assessments.

Please be aware that at the time of publication, the LAUSD Board of Education has not yet voted on a school calendar for 2021-2022. They are considering adding ten additional instructional days next year to make up for learning loss due to the pandemic. As soon as the Board approves a calendar, your child's school principal will share the calendar with you.

Wishing you and your family health and peace!

Timeline for Return to Hybrid in Person Instruction

As you know LAUSD families were provided with a program selection form to select whether your child would continue to learn remotely or return to campus on a hybrid model. In our Eagle Rock/Highland Park Community of Schools (COS) all 22 schools had a greater than 75% response rate-----thank you!

Families who select a hybrid in person return know that their will need to have a COVID-19 test weekly; this also applies for staff. Additionally, staff and students are to generate a LAUSD Daily Pass to enter campus:

Here is the timeline for a hybrid return:

Monday, April 12, 2021 – selected schools (Dahlia Heights Elementary in our COS)

April 19, 2021 – all other Early Education Centers, Primary Centers and elementary schools

April 26, 2021 – middle schools, high schools and Options schools

As grade levels have a staggered start, your child’s school will provide specific information about your child’s return to hybrid instruction.

Dahlia Heights Elementary was our first school to return and thanks to Principal Shaw, the dedicated teachers and staff, and the wonderful students and parents, the reopening ran smoothly. On Thursday, April 15th Superintended Beutner visited Dahlia Heights Elementary and visited a few classrooms. KABC News, KTLA Morning News and KLCS were on hand to document students returning to school.

Academic Tip

STEAM & the Engineering Mindset

by Kevin Man Chow, A-G Advisor, ELA

Spring brings with it a wealth of science and discovery opportunities within our immediate environment. Whether in the backyard, at the park, or between the cracks of sidewalks, science abounds. There is so much to be learned by simple observation, and those observations may coalesce into questions that provoke investigation, discovery, and higher-order thinking. For this month, I’d like to introduce parents to two useful science-oriented elements: the Engineering Mindset, and two sites that offer a trove of science experiments that parents may help their children conduct at home.

The Engineering Mindset is, at its heart, a process of solving complex problems by breaking it down into smaller, solvable, chunks. For example: every time it rains, a giant puddle forms directly in front the door to your home. How might this complex problem be resolved? The engineer would apply the following process, cycling through each of these thinking steps until a prototype is formed. If the prototype doesn’t work, the Engineering Design Process is repeated.

What engineering questions might your child find around the home? For example, how might we keep weeds from growing in a certain area? How might we prevent ants from coming into the home? How could we feed migratory birds without also feeding the local squirrels and mice? Each of these can launch an adventure of research, creation, and learning.

Here are the two sites I referenced earlier. Both are fantastic resources for home science experiments that might spark engineering journeys as well:

Book Recommendations

Elementary (ETK-5th) Recommendation

by Jenny Lu, 1st Grade Teacher, Early Language and Literacy Coordinator at Delevan Elementary School

As an educator working with children on a daily basis, I have read countless children's books. We all have our favorite classic children’s books, but I have discovered over the years that the characters in most of these books do not accurately reflect the cultural diversity of schools. As a result, I have been motivated over the past year to write a children's book promoting my passion for STEM, including diverse characters from different backgrounds. I am incredibly excited to share my book, Emma Ren: Robot Engineer, with my friends in the Eagle Rock and Highland Park communities!

Becoming an author has always been my childhood dream, though I never got the chance to make it a reality, until now. As a young girl, I would carry my notebook everywhere, scribbling pictures and writing silly stories. I recall finishing my first book in the 5th grade, overjoyed with the pride of creating something entirely my own that others can appreciate as well. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to share my stories with the world.

I started writing the book, Emma Ren: Robot Engineer, during the pandemic amidst all the uncertainty. As the entire world was on lockdown, I wanted to find a way to connect with young children during this troubling time, encouraging them to pursue an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I especially wanted to represent minorities and young girls. I strongly believe in the value of STEM, and the importance of incorporating this into the education of young children, as they begin making vital decisions about their future. During this time, gender stereotypes begin to widen the gap between the ambitions of girls and their ability to accomplish these goals. I would love to be part of the movement helping to close the gender imbalance gap in STEM fields.

Emma Ren: Robot Engineer is a story that supports young readers to grow their love for STEM (Science, technology, engineer, and math) creating thinkers, problem solvers, doers, innovators, and inventors. This book is about a young girl who loves to build things. She is excited to build a robot for her class competition, however, her partner thinks that girls are not as good at building things. Still, Emma is determined and continues to persevere, building the best robot. This book encourages young girls and boys to follow their love for science, technology, engineering, and math, through the STEM approach.

There's nothing more rewarding than knowing that my book could inspire young children, especially young girls, to see themselves in Emma Ren. I hope to inspire them to always follow their dreams and pursue their passions.

You can pre-order your copy of Emma Ren: Robot Engineer by clicking on the link below!

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Secondary (6th-12th) Recommendation

by Louise Cummings, Education Specialist at Luther Burbank Middle School

There is nothing better than seeing students excited about a book, and when it is a series? It’s gold, pure gold! Come along on a journey of an elite middle school track team made up of complex individuals facing their own challenges with one thing in common- running.

Jason Reynolds is an American author of young adult novels. Reynolds states “So, I'm a writer. And when I say I'm a writer, I mean it in the same way a professional ball player calls himself an athlete. I practice every day and do the best I can to be better at this writing thing, while hopefully bringing some cool stories to the world. The stories are kinda (sic) like my slam dunks. Except, I'm dunking words. In your FACE! Ha!”

What I love about Reynolds’ writing is the way he uses his words to hook his readers and take them on a journey, one we can relate to. Reynolds’ stories, particularly Ghost explore a complex character filled with anger and his unknown desire to belong. Ghost is the first in the Track series consisting of four books about an elite middle school track team. The stories and characters intertwine throughout the series with each book being told from the perspective of one member of the team.

Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, is a seventh grade boy with a lot of pent up anger. The circumstances in his life have left him running from the problems he created as he searches for his place in the world. Castle observes a track team practicing and his attitude takes over. He meets Coach, an ex-Olympic medalist turned cab driver, and teammates Patina, Sunny, and Lu. From there we learn of the challenges Ghost faces, his inner conflict, and mostly that he is a boy looking for his place among his schoolmates and teammates.

The three books that follow, Patina, Sunny, and Lu round out the series. Each story is unique and presented through the lens and voice of the title character. The books can be read as a standalone or as a series. However you choose to enter the world of these complex characters, you will not be disappointed. Reynold’s has a gift and he graciously shares his gift with us all through captivating storytelling and interesting relatable characters.

Eagle Rock/Highland Park Community of Schools Library

College/Career Update from a NELA Graduate

Scott Lee: Eagle Rock High School Class of 1967

by Erica Granados, Editor

It was our pleasure to have the opportunity to interview Mr. Scott Lee, an Eagle Rock High School alumni, as well as former LAUSD employee. Mr. Lee and his family resided on the border of Eagle Rock and Glassell Park starting in the 1950's, and in that time Scott and his four brothers attended a number of local schools including Toland Way Elementary, Irving Junior High (now known as Irving STEAM Magnet School) where his father taught, and of course Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School. As the eldest of the five brothers, Scott would be the first Lee brother to attend and the rest of his brothers followed suit. There was a Lee brother at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School for 11 years, from 1964 to 1975.

Due to the impact of the Vietnam War and the counterculture of the 1960's, there was a trend amongst his peers to seek work opportunities that gave back to one's community. In light of this, Scott felt inclined to follow in his father's footsteps and give back to the community by becoming an educator. Scott attended California State University Los Angeles and graduated in 1971. Shortly after, he entered a teacher credential program and landed a job within LAUSD. For the first 10-12 years of his career, Scott taught grades 2nd-5th. He later assumed out-of-the-classroom roles such as a resource teacher, a computer technician, and then a categorical program advisor. All in all, Scott wore multiple hats during his time within LAUSD that spanned 36 years. Scott has now been retired for 9 years although he did continue to be a resource for his colleagues a number of years after retiring. As those advisory calls dissipated over the years, Scott has dedicated more time to fishing and babysitting his three grandkids.

Scott identified how the influence of his father is what kept him and his brothers towing the line during their early education. While all the Lee brothers graduated from Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School, not all were inclined to enter education. Out of the five, Scott and Kenny became educators. Kenny was a teacher at Eagle Rock HS, principal at El Camino Real High School and ultimately retired as principal at San Fernando High School. Their brother Mike is employed by the State in Sacramento where he is the foreman of the printing press section. David Lee has been at Delta Airlines as a flight attendant for the past 25-30 years and the youngest Tracy, has been working in the IT field.

Nonetheless, the Lee family emphasizes the importance of education for the incoming generations. Scott shares that his father was very involved in their education but most importantly, he kept an open line of communication between him and his sons. Having raised two boys himself, Scott realizes the difference that makes in the family dynamic. When a family has the ability to communicate, then it is easier to work through things together, as a unit. By promoting open communication, it helps the child understand the parent and vice versa. The important thing to remember is that we are bound to make mistakes but as long as we can own up to them, they can see that both parent and children are trying their best. This is especially important to keep in mind now as students and parents are preparing for the transition to return to school and/or work.

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NELA Employee Spotlight

Stephanie Leach

The successes of the Eagle Rock/Highland Park Community of Schools would not be possible without the contributions from our schools and the dedicated staff behind each one. It's the leaders, innovators, and think-out-of-boxers who rise up to challenges and make a difference in their respective schools. Our NELA Titan (and proud Eagle) who has embodied these qualities is none other than Stephanie Leach, principal at Eagle Rock Elementary School. Since 2001, Ms. Leach has served the Eagle Rock Elementary School community in different capacities. She was a classroom teacher for four years before moving into the coordinator role for the next eight years, and ultimately, assuming the principalship for the last eight years. "Eagle Rock is truly like a family to me," she shared as she reminisced on her extensive history and rapport with the community. Her own two children attended Eagle Rock Elementary and she has found that through spending so much time at school (early mornings, late nights, weekends) her students, families, and staff have developed a communal spirit, "I lean on people as much as I hope they lean on me." She stressed the importance of community support and collaboration in her role since it takes a village to make lasting and impactful change on students' lives and education.

One of the things she has loved to see happen at Eagle Rock Elementary is the development of student leadership and student voice. A few years ago, the school set out to redefine their vision and came up with a variety of potential acronyms to encompass what Eagle Rock Elementary is all about. Kids, parents, and teachers took to the polling booths to vote on iPads on which acronym they felt best described their school culture. From that process emerged "Eagle Rock ROCKS," which stands for Respect, Optimism, Collaboration, Kindness and Spirit. The collaborative nature of how this new vision came to be allowed for everyone to tap into those words and own them, especially during these times as we are all facing unprecedented challenges and transitions with the return to school.

The collaborative spirit of Eagle Rock Elementary doesn't start and end there, it's integral to its success. In 2019, Eagle Rock Elementary was honored with the title of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School and was invited to D.C. It was the outcome of a greening grant they received and the execution that followed. The actual execution was again a collaborative process between the school and the surrounding community. Students ran with it and the school now has multiple greening efforts coexisting at once. There are the Green Eagles, and they have the Energy Eagles. Kids go around to classrooms and offer free energy audits to see if each class is using their energy as efficiently as possible. They have campaigned to turn off the lights. Spirit assemblies now offer a Green Tip for its student body. Their newspaper ,"The Egalitarian," includes a Green section for its readers. Together with the guidance of school staff and administrators, the students took ideas and opportunities and assumed leadership roles through their own merit. The surrounding community took the greening effort one step further when they undertook a beautifying effort of the school playground. The idea was to get rid of boring, black asphalt. Through the partnership with a neighborhood church that has existed for over 14 years, they recruited over a 100 volunteers on a hot summer's day and painted the campus. When the kids came back to school in August, they witnessed a major shift in the students attitude towards their school. Kids were becoming more creative, increasingly engaged, and took it upon themselves to become their own problem solvers. They gained a new admiration for their school and the benefits were spilling over to all aspects of student life.

All in all, Ms. Leach shows both pride and humility when it comes to the achievements Eagle Rock Elementary has made over her tenure there. She hopes that Eagle Rock Elementary always holds on to its core strength, it's spirit of community and collaboration. By centering student voice, they have soared to new heights and continued to find new ways to increase participation, engagement, and overall a positive school culture where students, staff and families feel included, heard, and understood. During our interview, Ms. Leach deferred all praise to her colleagues, staff and students, since she views their accomplishments as a team effort. Ms. Leach shows that with encouragement, empathy, and open mindedness, leaders are not those who implement their own vision but those who nurture a common goal that everyone can get behind. Thank you Ms. Leach for your devotion to your community and for being a crucial piece in the puzzle that makes sure Eagle Rock.... ROCKS.

Community Partner Highlight

Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council

The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC) was established in 2002. It serves a diverse community of over 60,000 stakeholders who reside, own property, or conduct business in the neighborhood of Highland Park. Broadly speaking, their role as a council is to amplify our community voices to the LA City Council.

Additionally, they have an annual budget, and utilize funding to provide support to a number of local organizations through “NPGs” or Neighborhood Purpose Grants. This has included clean-up/beautification efforts, food assistance as part of meal giveaway programs, support to a local film festival, and other events including the Northeast Los Angeles Christmas Parade, the Loomis festival and El Mercado Art & Craft Festival among others. They have held a “Day of Compassion” for our homeless neighbors, providing clothing and housing resources, co-hosted a candidate forum for the recent Council District 14 election, hosted a series of workshops on resources for handling student loan debt, and held a Town Hall with various city officials on the Liquor License approval process to better inform community members.

For the 2020-2021 academic year the HHPNC supported our efforts by donating $4000 worth of gift cards to local families in need and $3000 worth of children's books for children residing within Highland Park. Huge shout out to the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood for their continued support of our schools and community.

Student Work

A Student's Poetic Reply to Hate

by Zadie Kang

Sixth Grade

8 lives

Hate thrives

Your shots

Hit me in this spot

Your hate

Is moving at a fast rate

But stop

Drop your weapon

I'm just the same as you

Inside you know it's true

Why do you blame us

Why do you claim

That we're the cause of your pain

We're not

Why do you

Push us aside

Call us virus

The only virus is hate

I thought we were to create

A better world where we're not pushed aside

People have died

They're gone

Yet you press on

It doesn't matter if we live or die

As long as we stay alive

When you shot them you shot me

Can't you see

It's not fine

They had lives too

But you

Decided to take those away

Tell them they couldn't stay

Because the way they looked

Because they looked a little more like me

We all became a little less free

But think

Before you act

Don't be brash

Put yourself in our shoes

We didn't choose

How we look like

We're just as lifelike

As you

And that's true.