Photo by Matthew Claybrook
Seventeen high school students graduated this summer as first class from the Advanced Learning Academy (ALA), an innovative pre-K-12 school that the Trinity Department of Education played an important role in design and support since 2016.
The Department of Education helped design the school in 2016 in partnership with the San Antonio Independent School District (ALA) and City Education Partners (CEP), a non-profit educational organization based in San Antonio. . The department focused on progressive ideas on learning and professional development opportunities for teachers and school administrators as they help shape the school. ALA is a district charter and magnetic school that serves pre-K-12 classes and is open to any student applying. The candidates are chosen by drawing lots.
Angela Breidenstein, professor in the education department, was part of the initial design team with representatives from SAISD and Trinity. Breidenstein helped recruit the now-graduating seniors to attend ALA while it was still in development.
âWe are so proud of the students in the first batch. We have seen in the small schools that we have created or with which we have worked that it takes pioneering students to leave the constants of their school at home and come and try a new school. In this case, when they came to ALA, they were coming to a school that literally did not exist. We asked students and families to come and create it with us, âsaid Breidenstein.
This year, the Ministry of Education will enter into its second grant agreement with SAISD and CEP. For the year, ALA will continue to focus on socio-emotional learning.
âI think one of the things that we think about with a strong focus is social and emotional learning as a shared goal, as well as academic learning. We are looking at the whole child, so what is it like to look after the social and emotional development and well-being of the students, “said Breidenstein.
ALA will also continue to focus on its expeditionary learning in the community of San Antonio and across the country, according to Emily Bieser, director of ALA.
âWe are expanding our experiential learning experiences in the upper classes as we take our first out-of-state travel experiences. We will study the civil rights movement with our grade 8 students on a travel experience in Alabama. We will also be taking our elders to Washington DC to study climate change policies nationally and globally. While both of these trips are new, we will also continue to use the San Antonio community to educate all of our students, K-12, âBieser wrote in an email.
Not only are Trinity professors involved in ALA, but Trinity’s Masters students of the Master of Education in School Leadership (MESL) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) also contribute to its progression. This year there are 10 MAT trainees and four MESL trainees at ALA.
MAT student, Kali Dawson, works as a trainee teacher at ALA in a mixed-age class with 2nd and 3rd grade students. Multi-age learning is a priority for ALA this year.
âFor these mixed age classes, we are really focusing on learning in small groups this year based on the needs of different students. Students will then be given smaller groups for learning, and more learning will meet exactly what they need to move forward. We are all very happy to see how these new mixed age classes are going and to work more with the students. ALA is unique in every way and it’s amazing to be part of a program that is changing the world, âDawson wrote in an email.
ALA is not the first school of its kind. Trinity previously worked in partnership with the North East Independent School District to create the International School of the Americas. Breidenstein saw the creation of ALA as an opportunity to strengthen Trinity’s partnership with SAISD.
âI’ve been through this, and I’ve seen schools and districts do it a few times now. So to me, this is just another affirmation of the commitment of school districts and universities to come together to create wonderful learning experiences for everyone in the building – teachers, students, staff. , families and our teachers in training – our future teachers and future school leaders, âsaid Breidenstein.
Disclaimer: Garriga worked with City Education Partners on an unrelated project last summer