2018 Freedom School Day of Social Action 

This past summer 60 Rainier Beach High School scholars protested the unlawful building of Seattle’s Youth Detention Center. Continuing the work of many No New Youth Jail organizers, our Freedom School scholars posed the question “What would you do with $210 million?” Challenging the city to invest IN our youth rather than institutions that detain them. The #NNYJ Anthem song and video was written, produced, and directed by Rainier Beach scholars with the help of Michael Graham & Rell Be Free. 

I have always thought what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others” (Ella J. Baker).

During the school year WA-BLOC builds upon summer programming, bridges the critical transition into high school, and fosters academic and community transformation, bolstering the school’s International Baccalaureate (“IB for all”) programming. Specifically, programming includes Check & Connect, embedded co-teachers, social justice programming, and homework center.

The Embedded Tutoring/Co-teaching Model

Emerged from WA-BLOCs desire to bring the CDF FSs pedagogy and practices into Rainier Beach’s school year classrooms. Place-based embedded tutors (Servant Leader Educators-SLEs) partner with teachers (mainly white men and women) to plan and build culturally relevant practices. Specifically, SLEs push into academic classes using a co-teaching model and support teachers to develop and utilize CDF Freedom Schools’ style student-centered, culturally relevant, trauma-informed, restorative pedagogical practices. Thus, they foster teacher student relationships and a high expectations asset-based learning environment.

Social Justice Programing

WA-BLOC collaborates regularly with our local community to cultivate and facilitate school/community wide ‘social justice events.’  These events, like our annual “B.L.O.C. Party” collaborate with 40-50 community organizations, leaders, activists, and student leaders to host an array of interactive workshops to uplift and affirm identities of black and brown youth and mobilize our community in work of justice. Other examples of social justice leadership programming include apprentice-style participation in the Black Student Union, transportation justice townhalls, school board presentations, and coalition-building circle practice meetings with Community members and City and Seattle Public School officials, exemplified by recent efforts to address issues of food insecurity in our school and wider southend community.

The Check & Connect Program

Is a research-based model (Christenson, Thurlow, Sinclair, Lehr, Kaibel, Reschly, et al., 2008) which empowers scholars. Specifically, Check & Connect seeks to enhance student engagement with school and learning, foster student identity and belonging, build competence, and provide persistent support for personal, academic and behavioral growth. Essential features include a mentor who meets with the scholar for ~1 hour per week and 1) focuses on the importance of education, 2) systematically monitors (the “check” component) the scholar’s ABCs (attendance, behavior, and course performance), 3) provides timely and personalized supports (the “connect” component), and 4) enhances home-school communication and home support for learning via bi-monthly communications.

Before and After School Homework Center

WA-BLOC supports before school homework center and breakfast two mornings a week, coordinating teacher and tutor support. Additionally, WA-BLOC coordinates after school homework center four afternoons each week and is responsible for the recruiting, training and scheduling of college-age and community volunteer tutors. Homework Center provides a supportive space to complete homework due to its computer access, tutor support and afternoon snack. This is especially critical support for our English language learners.