As CEO/Principal of Birmingham Community Charter High School, I am proud to be part of a staff that believes in the unlimited potential of our youth. As an Independent Charter School, all stakeholders know that we have the opportunity and responsibility to leverage our autonomy to tailor our programs and support to the unique needs of our students. To this end, Birmingham is a school that promotes the well-rounded development of all students. Our staff works hard to encourage students to get involved.
The multitude of opportunities are one of the strengths of our school as students can participate in a vast array of curricular and extra-curricular programs and clubs. Unlike many high schools today, we continue to invest in the arts with the mission to inspire students to engage in meaningful learning in a safe, creative, and nurturing environment. 10 different visual and performing art pathways are available to our students as we challenge them to be critical thinkers and productive members and leaders of the community. We also have one of the city’s largest student body leadership programs including over 35 clubs sponsored by faculty members. Birmingham students also participate in our championship athletic program that is one of the largest in CIF L.A. City Section. Academic, artistic, athletic, and social development are all pillars of what it is to be a Birmingham student.
Our challenge this school year has been to re-acculturate our students to on campus, in classroom instruction after being closed for 18 months. So much of what we’re trying to do is to create new systems to address the gaps in learning and connection that have been the natural consequence of virtual learning.
Being well-rounded is our hallmark, but first and foremost, we’re an academic institution that provides a vast array of rigorous college and career preparation opportunities. Our graduation rate has increased to 96.5%, while we continue to increase our advanced placement and concurrent college enrollment offerings. A-G university eligibility rate has continued to rise in parallel with the California College/Career Readiness Indicator. The graduating class of 2021 had an A-G University Eligibility rate of 77.8%, an increase of more than 20 percentage points in the last two years.
We are determined at Birmingham to ensure that every student feels supported and cared for. Our faculty has received professional development in both the implementation of Social Emotional Learning activities and Trauma Informed Practices. We understand that our students need to feel safe and supported before they can begin to focus on their learning and academic growth. Our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and grade level academy MTSS teams have worked hard in partnership with our four psychiatric social workers to implement systems that allow us to be proactive in addressing student needs.
Parent engagement is another critical element that has taken on greater importance during the pandemic. We are now in our second year of implementation of Parent Square. This online platform and application provide a powerful tool that allows us to engage in two-way communication with parents so we can address their questions and concerns in real time. Through this application, we’ve seen parent engagement and feedback increase exponentially as we’ve been able to track over 1000 unique parent/guardian communications to our staff. We’ve also convened a Parent and Family Engagement Team with active parent participation. Their partnership has provided us with actionable feedback about how we can better support our parents and guardians on a daily basis. One of our indicators of success has been our monthly newsletter published in both Spanish and English that has been read by as many as 1800 parents in a given month.
Some of our recent accomplishments for the 2020-2021 school year include:
- Largest increase in acceptance rate to UCLA
- 96.6% attendance rate.
- 96.5% graduation rate and a 77.8% university eligibility rate.
As a comprehensive high school, BCCHS offers numerous programs for our students:
- School of Advanced Studies (SAS) Program offers both dual-credit college courses and 18 Advanced Placement courses.
- Students enrolled in college courses earn credit for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC).
- Over 450 students participate in the program annually.
- We have expanded the program to include over a dozen course offerings such as English, Psychology, and Political Science in partnership with Valley College.
- Partnership with Ed Equity Lab to offer students with access to elite university courses from Stanford to Yale.
- Summer @ College program offers the opportunity for students to apply and receive scholarships to attend summer college programs at various elite California public and private universities.
- Freshman Transition Program is provided for all incoming 9th graders and Link Crew will be implemented in school year 22-23.
- Comprehensive Arts and CTE Programs for a balanced instructional program that emphasizes creativity and career preparation in addition to college readiness.
- 260:1 Student to counselor ratio not including 4 psychiatric social workers, 2 college counselors, and 1 career counselor.
- Our Athletics Program, the largest in the city of Los Angeles, boasts outstanding facilities including a swimming pool, a 10,000-seat football stadium, an Olympic tartan track, a lighted baseball field, two dedicated softball fields, and two Olympic-sized soccer fields.
Supplemental Support Program includes an intervention/advisory class implemented within the instructional day that provides habits of mind and social emotional support activities, while also providing students with another advocate on their behalf in a 20:1 student to teacher ratio.
We could not offer all of these programs without the commitment and dedication of Birmingham faculty and staff or without the unwavering support of our student-first Board of Directors. We collectively share the goal to continuously grow as educators, strengthen our community, and increase real-world learning opportunities to bring out the best in every BCCHS student. We are passionate about serving Birmingham students and families as a Title I high school located on a beautiful, clean, and safe campus!