Melrose Leadership Academy

Oakland May Day Education

As a former Oakland school teacher with two children in the Oakland public school system, I can sympathize with the families who protested on May Day. Five OUSD schools will close next year; communities will be displaced. Children will be forced to attend different schools. If our Spanish immersion public school were closing, I would be protesting too. Instead, Melrose Leadership Academy is moving into one of the “closed” schools and a charter school is moving into our current site.  MLA is moving to Maxwell Park Elementary and The Urban Montessori School will move into our current building.

 (bryan farley)

Urban school districts must balance many unfair choices. School closures seem especially unfair since the disruptions will ripple  throughout the district for years.

 (bryan farley)

Protesters cause disruptions, sometimes unintentionally. As the photo above illustrates, disruptions create confusing messages. To the left, a person looks into the trash while a man blocks the word “Fe, leaving the message “Save Santa.” In March, some protesters disrupted a school board meeting, but their message confused potential supporters.  The disruption affected our school also, postponing our new parent orientation and other planning for our eventual move.… Read the rest

One Hundred Days of School

When Melrose Leadership Academy students walk into kindergarten on the first day of school, teachers talk Spanish about 90% of the day. For the first few months, some students are confused, but quickly students acquire language. Perhaps because of our school’s success, our community ignores that our students also learn other subjects. Melrose Leadership students must learn the same content standards as other public school students.

 (bryan farley)

The one hundredth day of the school year is one example where students learn an important number sense math lesson. This year, my second child has participated in the ritual. Students enjoy playing with the different items. Some students eat Cheerios or wear noodle necklaces. All the students learn about the number 100, whether it is one hundred or cien.

Another important note: While this blog post is dated February 13, I publised it two weeks later on February 27.… Read the rest

MLA 2012 Winter Performance Expo

On January 25 and 26, the Melrose Leadership Academy community assembled for the Winter performance expo in Oakland, California. Students danced, sang and played instruments. Kindergarten students through 8th graders danced traditional Mexican dances, such as ballet folklorico. Parents and educators helped students prepare.

 (bryan farley)

Melrose Leadership Academy held their Winter 2012 Performance Epxo on January 25-26, 2012.

Before the expo, students dressed for the performance. Once dressed, all the students shared the same “backstage” area. The bigger kids teach the smaller children. The adults teach the children how to prepare and learn. Meanwhile, the children remind us why we invest our time helping them grow.


Because the school continues growing, the organizers added a second January show. Photos from the top are from day one (and here). Photos just above are from the second day.… Read the rest

MLA Community Bridges Student Dance Expo

Today is the first day of the Melrose Leadership Academy music and performance expo. For the kindergarten students and parents, this week will be their first of many music and dance performances. Since MLA added the elementary school Spanish dual immersion program in 2009-2010, there have been four previous performance expos hosted by MLA and the Community Bridges program.  During the first two, I did not photograph much of the event. Last year, I was prepared. To prepare some of the new parents and potential MLA parents who may attend our school next year, I created this post.

In January 2010, the first kindergarten class danced in a circle. By the end of the first year, the students had learned different cultural dances and songs. By the fourth Expo, all the lower grade students participated. The middle school students were role models and the entire MLA community seemed to dance as part of a much larger circle.… Read the rest

Melrose Leadership Academy 2012 Classroom Expo

My two children attend Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, California.  Our school is well known for it’s successful dual Spanish immersion program. Soon, we might become known for regular evening family events.

 (bryan farley)

Moyra Contreras, principal of Melrose Leadership Academy

Moyra Contreras, our principal, exemplifies our school spirit. At last night’s Classroom Expo she visited each classroom and spoke with all the families.  Back to School Night and Unity Night are different than the the Classroom Expos. Classroom Expos are also different than the school wide expos which happen next week.  We meet early and often.

During the Oakland Unified enrollment period, I have helped with parent information tours. At each tour, I am asked if the language difference has interfered with my ability to communicate, but nobody asks if the language difference helps. Would I attend more meetings if we all spoke the same language or would I attend fewer meetings?… Read the rest