Friday, April 29, 2011

Principals' Center Collective a model of success

In an effort to convince new neighbors of their value in the community, Noel Ortiz, 16, 
a student at Principals' Center Collaborative, stands for a portrait before speaking at a 
school board meeting later in day on Tuesday April 26, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. 
The school works with court mandated kids who are somehow a part of the juvenile 
justice system. The school is trying to move to a new location and neighbors at the 
new location are concerned about a negative impact when the PCC student move in. 
Noel Ortiz, 16, is interested in art and architecture, starting an mural-painting internship 
with week. His is planning to do his next school project will be on local architecture.
On any given day, about 40 students from across San Francisco file into run-down portable classrooms scattered across a flood-prone asphalt yard.

The school, attended by kids sent there under a judge's order, is dilapidated, but the education offered inside is shiny and new. It offers some of the city's most at-risk students a real shot at college or a career.

In fact, students at the Principals' Center Collaborative school have performed so well that district officials want to make it available to any San Francisco teen who wants to attend. It's a novel idea for a school that serves kids who have had run-ins with the law.

"We think the school's approach to learning has so much to offer that we want to expand the opportunity to more youth," said district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
The Principals' Center Collaborative school wasn't always a model of success. It originally focused mostly on correcting student behavior and then shipping the teens back to traditional high schools and hoping for the best.
But the school shifted gears this year, basing its academics on each student's interests. It began offering internships and exposure to a world of possibilities.