Two schools are moving into the Enola Maxwell campus in August 2017.
Each has an incredible story. Read our interviews with the schools' principles below to learn more and join us in welcoming these dynamic schools to our neighborhood.
PREFund is dedicated to keeping families in San Francisco so a core component of our mission is fostering educational opportunities. We will be hosting a few events to welcome these schools to our neighborhoods including free coffee chats so stay tuned for more information!
Left to right: Emily Bobel Kilduff, co-Head of School of the New School, Shernice Lazare, Ryan Chapman, and Christina Canaveral.
Max Garrone, PREFund board member interviews Emily Bobel Kilduff, co-Head of School of the New School:
What’s your school’s mission?
Three key things drove Ryan and myself to build the school. We’re passionate about educational equity and education and spent our careers working with students and families from low income backgrounds and families of color. So we broke our mission into three:
1. Intentional Diversity & Equity
San Francisco is not unique in having highly segregated schools. Kids from low income backgrounds have fewer options, those who need the most get the least. The schools look very homogenous. But if you look at studies dating back to Brown v Board of Education, diverse schools offer better outcomes for all kids in terms of academic readiness, social and emotional development, and in developing empathy. So, we wanted to create an intentionally diverse school community in a school district that is segregated.
2. Inquiry based learning
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Reggio schools but the idea is that the learning environment is based around the child and what they want to learn. We find this in preschools and colleges but in K-12 there is a very big gap between developing learning. You can also find this in private schools. Yet, all research shows that this is one of the most effective and engaging ways for kids to learn. And one of the most effective ways to close the opportunity gap. So our question was ‘How do you make this approach available to all kids?” and ‘How do you develop something outside of scripted curriculum?’ We had to break out of that and think about creative delivery of common core standards.
3. K-12 / Personalization
This is a very important thing for families. For us stability is very important, we and our families want a line of sight for where my kid is going to be for 13 years. And along the way we get to know the community for a long time. Inquiry based learning works with individualize learning program, and we want 13 years to build on that. We get to build longer term learning goals for kids and not a simple push to “I want my kids at this level by 5th grade.” It gives us more flexibility to think about what’s developmentally appropriate for each child. We pace them out for each kid. It’s really hard because we have diverse kids from different starting points academically, socially, and in terms of their home life. Plus this is not how teachers are trained so we have had to get our teachers to jump in and learn how to teach using the method that they’re teaching.
What’s the history of your school?
We are entering our third year with the school year starting on August 21st so we have completed two years. Every year we add a year, so last year’s first grade becomes this year’s second grade. We have given ourselves permission to open a middle school and high school sooner if needed but for now the growth plan is one grade at a time for the first three years.
What's your student body look like?
We have 182 kids in three grades. We have lots of applicants, this year we had 440 applications for 50 spots. It’s a positive that people like you but negative that you have to turn people away.
We have a separate lottery from SFUSD. We have a lottery for each grade. Our only preference, and it’s state mandated, is for those who live in the city of San Francisco. So if you’re living in Daly City chances are low that you’ll get in.
We are a city wide school so we draw students from all over. A larger percentage come from the Mission, Potrero Hill, and the southeast side of the city. But we have families from everywhere; the Sunset, Presidio, Bayview - all San Francisco neighborhoods except Treasure Island.
What does your staff look like?
Our staff is predominantly from San Francisco, 30% live in Oakland, 45% are of color, we really want to add men to teaching. It’s very hard to find teachers with a background in inquiry based thinking but we have some. Our head of curriculum and instruction comes from the UCLA lab school. We partner with the Exploratorium Institute of Inquiry to help build curricula. Now folks who were new to inquiry in year one are established. We ask people and kids to get in there and be messy.
What’s your school year? The same as SFUSD or different?
We have a slightly different calendar but it’s mostly the same.
What’s the best way of getting into contact with you?
Right now the best way is through our email address firstname.lastname@example.org and phone should be connected soon. [We will update this page with the New School’s number as soon as we receive it.]
Ms. Julie is the principal of the S.F. International School
Max Garrone, PREFund board member interviewed Ms. Julie who leads the SF International School which just moved into the second and third stories of the Enola Maxwell campus.
First, to clear up any confusion, this is a completely different school from the International Studies Academy that used to be located at Enola Maxwell. That school merged with O’Connell High School last year. This SF International School is an separate concept. You can hear more about the SF International School in KQED's The Leap podcast, a KQED article, a Mother Jones article, and an Ed Source article.
What's the history of your school?
We were founded in 2009 and first colocated at Mission High then at Bryant Elementary. Growth was projected from the beginning so this is a good move for us.
What's your school's mission?
We serve 100% a population of recently arrived immigrants. Our students have been here for less than four years and are English language learners.
What's your student body look like?
We have 400 kids. Our demographics change annually reflecting global politics. Right now we have 68% Spanish speakers, 20% Mandarin speakers plus Cantonese and Toisanese speakers then the rest of our student body speaks 16 other languages including Arabic, Tagalog, and Albanian. Our students come from 24 different countries and speak 18 different languages.
You have to understand that 30% of our students arrived here as unaccompanied minors, many are working full time, but they are prioritizing school so for many of them their schedule is school, work, sleep, school. But they’re really devoted to school, our school site council president for past two years has been a student.
But really our students are social teenagers who want to know one another. It’s still high school!
How do you teach your students? What’s your educational philosophy?
All our classes are taught in English. We encourage kids to speak their native languages but they learn English fast because that’s the social language. All the flirting, chatting, and everything that goes on in school goes on in English.
Our focus is on collaborative learning so if we’re learning about the French Revolution we’ll have a simulation of the French Revolution where students break into groups to do research and then teach the rest of the class with presentations and posters.
A side effect of project collaborative model is that students are monitoring one another. Collective grades are built into the school. We can’t speak all the languages, nor teach them all the time but if you have 28 other teachers in the room who know kids, they hold each other up!
We are about accelerated learning on all fronts; learning English and the core subject matter. Everything has to happen in four years with a very diverse number of learning levels and languages coming in. Our job is to teach them and prepare them for college. Get them independent as well.
Plus all juniors and seniors have internships in the area and take City College courses as college prep and
two times a year our students have a portfolio defense because that’s the best way to grade this sort of learning.
Our ultimate goal is to get our kids into college and we have a good rate of application, a really good acceptance level to four year institutions.
What do you think of Potrero Hill and your new campus?
Up until a few weeks ago we didn’t have a gym, an auditorium, a cafeteria. We have enough classrooms this year, the kids are really excited by the gym. The kids are all saying ‘oh my god we matter.’
415 695 5781 (phones active 8/21)