Students dancing

On Thursday, December 20th, the ENLACE community celebrated its 4th annual Storytellers' Café and Holiday Party. Nearly 200 students, families, staff, and community partners came together for a delicious potluck dinner and student showcase. Some students presented their immigration stories, which they had written in ESL class, and others shared their musical talents. The ENLACE Theater Company performed as well as the Salsa Dance Club. It was an evening to remember. Happy Holidays from the ENLACE Community!

Students meeting in the Stronger Juntos club

This year ENLACE will see its first class of students from 2015-16 walk across the stage and graduate from Lawrence High School. As more students have transitioned out of the newcomer academy and into the Lower and Upper Schools, many have come back to share their advice and wisdom with current students. This year Lisaidy Zabala, a former ENLACE student and current junior in the Upper School Academy, has taken this to the next level by starting a new club called Stronger Juntos. She wrote a very compelling proposal to her former principal and teachers about her own experience transitioning out of the newcomer academy and her vision for a mentoring program where she and other former ENLACE students could support peers who are just beginning their high school path.  The after-school program meets weekly and provides tutoring and homework help, student-led presentations about topics such as MCAS, GPA, graduation requirements, SATs, and applying to college, and opportunities to get formal and informal advice from peers who have had similar experiences. The club has now met for several weeks and has members across grades 9-12. We can't wait to see how it grows!

Families gather in a circle

ENLACE recently held its first Café con ENLACE of the 2018-19 school year. Café con ENLACE started last year as an alternative model to a traditional PTO in order to foster deeper and more culturally responsive family engagement and leadership within the school community. At this first event, we welcomed more than 30 family members as well as students and teachers to build relationships, engage in discussion and collaboration, and set a vision for our work together this year. Students helped ENLACE staff introduce families to Restorative Justice circles, which they use during the school day on a regular basis, and we conducted the meeting in a circle format. Families shared their hopes and dreams for their children and their vision for collaboration with the school this year, and the group decided that their next meeting would take place during the school day so they can come visit classrooms and learn more about instruction. We can't wait for the next Café con ENLACE!

Students collaborate to design a flag

This week all ENLACE students collaborated with their Advisory groups to design an Advisory name, motto, and flag that reflects their identity as a community. Some groups chose to intertwine the flags of their home countries, while others chose new symbols to reflect the values their new community shares. Now, each group is preparing to present their flag to other groups in school-wide Community Circle. This is just one of many activities that ENLACE students do during the first quarter in Advisory. Students start their day with 30 minutes of Advisory each morning, which is a time to build community, engage in social-emotional learning, practice language, set goals, and reflect on academic progress. Each quarter, students engage in Advisory activities that connect to ENLACE's school wide curricular themes. During the first quarter, for example, students are exploring essential questions about IDENTITY across Advisory and all of their classes.

Students playing team-building game outside

ENLACE students were outside last week doing some team-building activities as part of their new Yoga & Wellness class launched this year. Designed and led by ENLACE teacher and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Lead, Samantha Curtis, the Yoga & Wellness class is one component of ENLACE's SEL initiatives. For the past two years, Ms. Curtis has applied for and received an SEL Innovation Award for Teachers. This award is a partnership between the NoVo Foundation, Education First and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors with the goal of supporting the spread of innovative social and emotional learning (SEL) practices in schools and districts nationwide. They received over 1,000 applications from more than 45 states, and only 12% of applicants were accepted. This award will provide Ms. Curtis and the ENLACE team with a $5,000 grant to build on the foundation of SEL practices started last year. It will help fund teacher stipends to form an SEL Committee that will strengthen ENLACE’s advisory curriculum and restorative justice practices and continue integrating SEL competencies into academics, purchase materials for the new Yoga & Wellness course, and establish a partnership with Panorama Education in order to conduct student surveys and gather data on social-emotional growth and development.