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Middle School Updates


 

Hello Parents and Community Members,

We are excited to share that today we submit our final Charter Petition to Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD). A full copy of the Hidden Figures Academy (HFA) Middle School Charter can be found through the link on our website.

September 9, 2017

"UCSC submitting the middle school petition to Sacramento City Unified School District to begin the process for request to operate a middle school on Friday, September 8, 2017."

From right to left: Middle School Project Manager Dr. Dennis Mah, Sacramento City Unified School District Director of Charter Oversight Jack Kraemer, Associate Middle School Project Manager Chandra Roughton, UCSC Superintendent Lee Yang, YPSA Principal Vince Xiong.

 

Hidden Figures Academy (HFA) Overview

Scholars at HFA will study hidden figures across all cultures.  Our educational program will provide "hands-on" learning and encompass adolescent appropriate body-brain compatible teaching.  We will have a rigorous academic program focused on developing literacy skills that ensures success for all scholars.  We will be a STEAM school - focusing on teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math utilizing curriculum for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Professor Pod Pi.

 

What's different about our innovative middle school?

  1. Focus on developing character traits and leadership skills.
  2. Brain-compatible program recognizing and providing positive outlets for the adolescent needs of 1) peer acceptance, 2) risk taking, 3) sensation seeking and 4) reward seeking.
  3. Small school setting - Max enrollment 225 young adolescents in grades 6, 7, and 8. Average class size 25.
  4. Classes in session Monday-Thursday 8:30 - 5:15 p.m. / Friday 8:30 - 4:05 p.m. totaling 71,825 annual instructional minutes (17,825 over the CA state requirement).
  5. A House program dedicated to community building, team-work, and collaboration activities.
  6. Afternoon enrichment clubs and built in What-I-Need (W.I.N.) time to provide students extra academic support.

 


 

Middle School Updates:

As of now, the middle school project will come to a halt until further notice. UCSC is now focusing 100% on improving the scholar academic achievements at YPSA.

 

December 15, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

We wanted to share an update with all of you in regard to last Monday's UCSC Board Meeting and Wednesday's middle-school Community Advisory Team (CAT) meeting.

At this time, our UCSC board decided to place development of opening the new middle school on hold. In summary, based on 2017 state testing data for ELA and Math, chances of getting the district, county, or state Board to approve opening UCSC's second school are dependent upon improved scholar achievement at YPSA and more experience in middle school operations.

Currently, we are lagging behind the district in the percentage of students that are meeting or exceeding grade-level standards, and we have very little middle school expertise. Being a Charter school, the expectation is that at minimal we would be comparable to district scores; or, out-performing the district.

As such, expertise in middle school operation is a must have for us in order to expand the outstanding performance into the middle grades. Although many of us are disappointed that we cannot open the middle-school as soon as we had hoped, we realize that the message from SCUSD was in fact a blessing in disguise. It reminds us of the importance and urgency to create a school-wide achievement plan for our YPSA scholars and focus our efforts in better supporting our teachers, YPSA staff, and increasing parental involvement.

Our magnificent administrative and management team at YPSA and UCSC are collectively working together to present to our UCSC Board a plan to add additional administrative support to the YPSA team to best support teaching and learning. In addition, administrators will seek to gain knowledge about best practices in the middle grades as we work on improving academic achievement at YPSA.

When we show improved academic progress and achievement within the next few years, we will be ready to pursue opening our new middle school. Your dedication, time, and commitment in the development of the HFA Charter petition and educational program enabled us to make it this far.

We understand that many of you have 6th-grade scholars and were hoping the school would open in time for their 7th-grade year. If you would like help exploring options for the best middle-school choice for next year, please feel free to reach out to the YPSA principal and he will gladly share any resources he has with you.

Lastly, we would like to share that one of our CAT parents became very inspired at Wednesday night's meeting. She is looking at taking charge of recreating YPSA's PTA and making connections for us in the community.

CAT members discussed the importance of needing to get our parents more involved to support learning activities at the school. I hope that each one of you will consider supporting the effort to get YPSA's PTA up and running soon.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the middle school project managers up through the middle of January 2018 or school staff at YPSA after that time.

We will work to get the answers for you.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

 


 

November 15, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

UCSC would like to thank-you for your continued support and patience as we work together to determine the next best steps for our organization. Monday night, our UCSC Board met and had a robust discussion on the best course of action to take moving forward.

The Board is currently looking at 3 options:

1. File a materials revision to the existing YPSA Charter to add 7th grade.

2. Filing an appeal with the County Board of Education.

3. Focus on improving academic achievement at YPSA.

Once we can demonstrate improved academic achievement, re-submit the HFA Charter Petition for the opening of the new middle-school. The Board will be continuing their discussion and voting on a final decision at the next UCSC Board meeting scheduled for Monday, December 11th.

Although no decisions have been made at this time, the Board and YPSA admin team discussed at length the need to improve academic achievement at YPSA and derive an improvement plan to better support our scholars, teachers, and learning.

All parties want to open our new middle-school and give our graduating 6th-graders a like-minded educational program for their middle-school experience. However, we know that in order to be prepared to open a second school, we must first take care of our existing school, YPSA.

YPSA needs to demonstrate improved academic achievement and continuous growth prior to its charter renewal coming up in two years. Immediate action will be taken to work closely with our current sixth grade scholars to best prepare them to take on the challenges that middle-school will bring. Regardless of where they go for 7th grade, we want our sixth graders to be academically strong, socially strong, and emotionally strong.

We cannot thank the parents, scholars, YPSA staff, UCSC staff, and community members enough for continuously providing your support. UCSC is committed to not only bettering YPSA, but to growing and expanding in order to provide parents and scholars more choice in education.

Once our UCSC Board makes a final decision, we will be sure to update you on our next steps. Board members are open to the public, and we invite you to attend any of the UCSC Board meetings.

Check out our important dates below, and please reach out should you have any questions.

Thank you for your time and please check in weekly for the latest HFA update.

 

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November 3, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

Last night, our UCSC team presented to the SCUSD Board prior to the public hearing and vote.  Unfortunately, the SCUSD Board denied the Charter Petition for Hidden Figures Academy.  The Board felt that since YPSA achievement data was slightly behind district averages in CAASPP scores, UCSC needed to focus on continuous improvement at the elementary site before opening a second school.

Although disappointed by the Board's decision, we see this as a hiccup in the process.  Our UCSC Board will be meeting on Monday, November 13th, and making decisions as to our next steps.  We have many options and are continuing to remain positive for the future opening of Hidden Figures Academy.  As we model for our scholars, when we fail – we fail forward.  We learn how to improve and grow in the process.

We cannot thank the parents, scholars, YPSA staff, UCSC staff, and community members enough for continuously providing your support.  UCSC is committed to not only bettering YPSA, but to growing and expanding in order to provide parents and scholars more choice in education.

 Check out our important dates below, and please reach out should you have any questions.  Thank you for your time and please check in weekly for the latest HFA update.

 

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October 27, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

UCSC has wrapped up another great week toward our journey of receiving approval for the new middle school, Hidden Figures Academy (HFA). We need you to join us on November 2nd, 2017 @ 6:30 p.m. at Serna Center for the district vote.  This coming Thursday, the SCUSD board will vote as to whether to approve the opening of Hidden Figures Academy.  Filling up the room with parents, scholars, and community members shows the immense amount of support that we have behind our charter petition.  Your presence models standing up for education, standing up for choice, and; most importantly, standing up for children and their right to the best future possible.

We have enjoyed meeting many of you during our after-school HFA booth.  We are continuing to collect "Letters of Interest" from any family who wishes to enroll for the upcoming year, 2018 (pending district approval).  If you haven't turned in your "Letter of Interest," please click the link below and fill one out today.

We'd like to share about our strong literacy program at HFA.  Scholars will receive 100 minutes of a combined block of English and History each day (Humanities).  During this extended learning time, scholars will learn their CA Common Core English and History standards through real-world applications.  Some include:  opportunities to read the newspaper and analyze current events; explore and discover hidden figures in our community and in our world; maintain scholar portfolios which will include writing samples, autobiographies, essays, and artwork; and study about "how English works" through daily twenty-minute English Language Development (ELD lessons).  In sixth-grade, scholars will read the novel 'Wonder' to learn about the harmful effects of bullying and the importance of using Life skills, especially empathy.  In seventh-grade, scholars will read, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens' to develop their leadership skills.  In eighth-grade, scholars will explore the novel, 'The Outsiders' and learn about friendships and the importance of integrity.

Our project managers, Dr. Mah and Mrs. Chandra Roughton (FKA Ms. Irvine), will continue to be in front of YPSA during pick-up time to meet and greet parents, answer questions about the new middle school, and collect "Letters of Interest" from any family who wishes to enroll.  Dr. Mah and Mrs. Roughton will have a table available during pick-up hours after-school every day at YPSA leading up to the November 2nd SCUSD Board vote.  Please stop by and visit!

Check out our important dates below, and please reach out should you have any questions.  Thank you for your time and please check in weekly for the latest HFA update.

 

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October 20, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

UCSC had another great week in the development of Hidden Figures Academy (HFA)!  As we approach the upcoming SCUSD Board hearing and vote on November 2nd, we are continuing our collection campaign of "Letters of Interest" from any family who wishes to enroll for the upcoming year, 2018 (pending district approval).  If you haven't turned in your "Letter of Interest," please click the link below and fill one out today.

This week, we would like to highlight some of the features of UCSC's charter petition that will promote academic success and demonstrate how we will effectively support all learners.  HFA will be a small school.  The first year, we will be open to 150 scholars.  In year two, we will be open to 225 at max capacity.  HFA will offer small class sizes with a scholar to teacher ratio of:  25-1.  During elective time, we hope to make the scholar to teacher ratio even smaller at: 20-1.  Scholars will receive built-in academic support through "W.I.N." sessions, two times per week in thirty-five minute blocks.  Due to our extended daily schedule, HFA offers an additional 17,825 more instructional minutes than traditional schools – WOW!  This way, we can ensure our scholars are adequately prepared for entry into High-school as top performing individuals.

Our middle school CAT (Community Advisory Team) met this week to discuss and vote on second and third name choices in the event that we do not receive approval to use the name, Hidden Figures Academy.  After a great discussion open to the public, the CAT team voted for, "Golden Figures Academy" (GFA) as a second name choice and, "Innovative Figures Academy" (IFA) as a third name choice.  We would like to thank all the parents who attended this special meeting and provided input.

This week, our project managers, Dr. Mah and Mrs. Roughton will have a table available during pick-up hours after-school every day at YPSA leading up to the November 2nd SCUSD Board vote.  Please stop by and visit! At this time we have collected 119 "Letters of Interest" from eligible scholars, and another 34 more from younger scholars and community members who can't wait for the new middle school to open!

We need you to join us on November 2nd, 2017 @ 6:30 p.m. at Serna Center for the district vote. Check out our important dates below and please reach out should you have any questions.

 

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October 13, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

The excitement is in the air for the new middle school! Many 'Letters of Interest' continue to be coming in from parents. If you have not completed your 'Letter of Interest,' please be sure to do so as soon as possible. If you submitted your letter through the link below, you would have received a response confirming your letter was received. If you did not receive a response, please contact us at the number below to ensure we have your letter on file.

This week, we would like to highlight another unique feature of UCSC's Charter petition that will promote academic success and achievement for all. HFA teachers will have a 40-minute prep period, every day, to meet in their grade-level teams for the sole purpose of analyzing scholar data. Teachers will use a well-known and effective process called, 'Data Teams,' to make every scholar visible and identify scholar learning needs.

Through daily analysis of scholar work in each subject, teachers will be able to target learning gaps and needs. From the data, teachers will make instructional changes and use research-based teaching strategies to re-teach material to scholars as needed. Teachers will also use scholar data to make appropriate recommendations and placements for W.I.N. (What-I-Need) time. In this way, we identify the needs of our scholars and adjust teaching and learning to benefit each child's unique learning needs. When teachers are analyzing scholar data, scholars will be participating in daily Taekwondo (TKD).

To further promote the development of social and emotional competence with our young teenage scholars, all scholars will participate in group Taekwondo classes, learning basic techniques, forms, and positive affirmations promoting discipline, respect, and the Six Tenets of TKD.

Our project management team is continuing the journey to receive permission to use the name, "Hidden Figures Academy." This Wednesday, October 18th, at Yav Pem Suab Academy in the library, a special CAT meeting will be held to vote on a second and third name choice in the event that we are unable to use: "Hidden Figures Academy."

We need you to join us on November 2nd, 2017 @ 6:30 p.m. at Serna Center for the district vote.

Check out our important dates below and please reach out should you have any questions.

 

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October 6, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

This week, we held two more parent informational meetings for our 5th grade parents to share about the new middle school. Mrs. Roughton also visited each of the 5th grade classrooms to share with 5th grader scholars about the new middle school. Parents and scholars were all eager to hear about Hidden Figures and the unique educational program that will be offered. If you have not completed your letter of interest, please be sure to do as soon as possible. All 5th grade scholars at YPSA brought home a letter of interest on Wednesday. You can also submit your letter through the link below.

Our CAT (Community Advisory Team) for the new middle school met this week. Your CAT members discussed reaching out to SCUSD Board members to show their support for the new middle school, began a campaign to get as many parents, scholars, and community members as possible to attend the November 2nd SCUSD vote (see below), and also made recommendations for the afternoon electives that will be offered at HFA. HFA will offer an afternoon elective in ELA, Math, and Leadership (Scholar Council).

Although final decisions have not been made for the additional clubs, CAT members expressed their support for having a "project banking" course to teach children about simple money management (i.e. how to balance a checkbook, how to have a savings account, how to budget life expenses, etc.). CAT members also had a great discussion on including "life-experience" classes that would include learning about cooking and the importance of food in various cultures, learning about nutrition, and learning about everyday chores such as folding laundry. Parents expressed their support for having hip-hop dance, and maybe integrating Art, Choir/Music, and Guitar into one course to explore "fine arts."

If you would like to provide input into our middle school discussions, please feel free to attend our next CAT meeting.

Our project management team is continuing the journey to receive permission to use the name, "Hidden Figures Academy." This Monday, October 9th, the middle school team will be presenting alternative names to the UCSC Board for consideration in the event that we cannot obtain permission to use the original idea of, "Hidden Figures." CAT members expressed their support to name the school, 'Golden Figures Academy (GFA)' and liked the idea of promoting a "golden education." Parents have also expressed their support for the name "Yav Pem Suab Middle School."

We need you to join us on November 2nd, 2017 @ 6:30 p.m. at Serna Center for the district vote. Check out our important dates below and please reach out should you have any questions.

 

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September 29, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

Your UCSC team is continuing to work hard with the development of the new middle school.

This week, we would like to highlight a unique feature to our Charter Petition called – W.I.N. time; or, “What-I-Need.” W.I.N. time is built into the regular instructional day, two days per week. During this 35-minute block, scholars will receive additional academic support in any content area that they need. In fact, UCSC is so committed to ensuring academic success for all scholars at Hidden Figures Academy, that teachers will analyze scholar achievement data daily. Utilizing this data, teachers will make recommendations for placement during W.I.N.

W.I.N. time will be provided for all scholars, with the attitude and understanding that we can all improve at something and we are all lifelong learners. Advanced learners will receive supplemental learning projects and activities during this time.

Our next step, is to get as many parents, scholars, staff, and community members to attend the SCUSD Board Meeting on November 2nd, where the Board will vote whether to approve our Charter Petition. Please begin to mark your calendars and plan to attend this hearing. Invite all of your friends, family and community members. If you or your scholar would like to provide a speech/public comment on November 2nd to the Board to show your support for the school, please contact one of our project managers. We’d love to hear your voice!

If you are interested in having your child enroll in HFA for August of 2018, please be sure to click the link below and complete a ‘Letter of Interest.’ We understand that there were some previous issues with the original link, and we are working on correcting the issue. Please feel free to complete your ‘Letter of Interest’ and scan it to: luminousmindsinc@gmail.com. If you would like to ensure we received your ‘Letter of Interest,’ please feel free to call or email one of our project managers.

 

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September 22, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

WOW! What an incredible turn-out we had last night at our public hearing.

On behalf of UCSC, we would like to extend a HUGE thank-you to all the parents, scholars, staff, and community members that attended this landmark event. Channel 13 news was there, highlighting our charter petition.

Please check out the link below: https://www.google.com/amp/sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/09/21/hidden-figures-academy-charter-school/amp/

Many scholars, parents, educators, and UCSC Board members shared a heartfelt speech during public comment to demonstrate to the SCUSD Board their support behind Hidden Figures Academy and the need for our new middle school to open.

Our next step, is to get as many parents, scholars, staff, and community members to attend the SCUSD Board Meeting on November 2, 2017, where the Board will vote whether to approve our Charter Petition. Please begin to mark your calendars and plan to attend this hearing. Invite all of your friends, family and community members.

If you or your scholar would like to provide a speech/public comment on November 2nd to the Board to show your support for the school, please contact one of our project managers.

We’d love to hear your voice! If you are interested in having your child enroll in HFA for August of 2018, please be sure to click the link below and complete a ‘Letter of Interest.’

 

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September 15, 2017

Hello Parents and Community Members,

UCSC had another successful week of continuing to develop it's new middle school, Hidden Figures Academy! This week, we presented to parents at UCSC's elementary school, Yav Pem Suab Academy (YPSA). Parents expressed their excitement and support for the opening of HFA, set for August of next year pending district approval. Principal Kenneth Durham from New Technology High was also present, and shared some information with parents about the like-minded, technology and inquiry-based programs that both HFA and New Tech have to offer.

This coming Thursday, September 21, is our public hearing at the district office. We need your support! Please plan to attend this hearing as our UCSC team presents our Charter Petition to the district. Our goal is to fill up the room, showing the district that we, as a community, support parent choice in education! We need you to join us and be advocates for our children. If possible, please wear white and be sure to collect a white index card to hold high and proud in the air upon arrival.

There will be four schools presenting to the Board on Thursday evening; HFA is going last. Please meet Hidden Figures Academy in the front lobby. UCSC staff or YPSA staff can help direct you. Our supporters will wait together in the lobby, until it is our school's turn to enter the Board room. At that time, we will all enter the presentation room and energize the Board with our community support! You are free to leave after the presentation. Please see details below.

This week, we'd like to highlight the proposed daily schedule for our new middle school:

Scholars will attend HFA Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. Friday, scholars will attend from 8:30 a.m. - 4:05 p.m. (early release).

HFA will provide daily instruction in all content areas, allowing for 100 minute blocks of: Humanities (ELA, ELD, and History), Math, and Science + Science Through Technology Elective. Scholars will also receive 40 minutes of daily instruction in Taekwondo, as well as 35 minutes of "house" time or intervention through W.I.N blocks (What-I-Need). Scholars will end their afternoon with enrichment "clubs" that will run Monday-Thursday in 50 minute blocks.

Afternoon clubs will be finalized during the planning year and may include such courses as: Hmong Language and Culture, Spanish Language and Culture, Guitar, Choir, Art, Hip-Hop Dance, Leadership, Math Sports Stats, Literacy Club, Math Club, and others. HFA will provide a total of 17,825 additional instructional minutes compared to other, traditional middle schools. This extended learning time will allow us to individualize instruction for each and every scholar and provide our future scholars with adequate time to learn, practice, and master standards and new skills.

If you are interested in having your child enroll in HFA for August of 2018, please be sure to click the link below and complete a 'Letter of Interest.'

 

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September 8, 2017

This week, we would like to highlight one of the components of our Charter that caters to the social and emotional development of young teenagers. Scholars at HFA will be placed in a "house," a small learning club of peers that scholars will develop friendships and bonds with. A scholar's "house" will be like a "friend family." During the week, scholars will have three class sessions, thirty-five minutes in length, in which they will participate in team-building activities, games, cooperative learning projects and friendly competitions within their house. Scholars are placed in their house upon enrollment, and stay within the same house their entire time at HFA. We are looking forward to implementing this new component to our educational program.

In addition, we would like to share a link to Project Lead The Way (PLTW). HFA will be adopting a few courses from PLTW's STEAM curriculum to support teaching our young scholars 21st-century skills. https://www.pltw.org/

We need you to join us on September 21, 2017, as UCSC presents our Charter petition to the Board. Check out our important dates below and please reach out should you have any questions

 

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Important Upcoming Dates:

 

December 11, 2017 - UCSC Board Meeting @ 6PM in YPSA Staff Lounge

 

For comments and questions about the middle school, please contact our middle school project managers: Dr. Dennis Mah and Ms. Chandra Roughton through their contact information below.

Dr. Dennis Mah: (916) 433-5057
Email: dennis-mah@scusd.edu

Ms. Chandra Roughton (FKA Ms. Irvine): (916) 996-7322
Email: luminousmindsinc@gmail.com