I photographed the Melrose Leadership Academy kindergarten classes again. This year, I asked principal Moyra Contreras to join our portrait session. This is Moyra’s last year as the MLA principal.
If not for Ms. Contreras, I would not have had access the last ten years to document the school’s growth. As a photographer, I am continually grateful to Ms. Contreras and the rest of the school community for allowing me to work on this project. I would probably thank everyone more, but I don’t want to draw too much attention to my good fortune.
If not for Ms. Contreras, the dual immersion district school may not have become a reality. Navigating OUSD and the community requires emotional intelligence that I will never develop.
The first class of kindergarteners that I photographed are now in high school. This year’s kindergarten students have just begun their journey. In education, we don’t measure much of what is learned in school… we don’t measure what I can see in the photos, and how the young students have learned to represent themselves.… Read the rest
In 2009, the first two classes of Melrose Leadership Academy dual immersion kindergarten students started school. Last month, the first two classes of 8th grade MLA dual immersion students finished middle school. I photographed the June 7, 2018 promotion ceremony and a celebration dinner the day earlier.
When we started at the school, we could only imagine the first 8th graduation class. Now, these students are part of the school’s legacy. I have included photos from the first kindergarten graduation as well as photo galleries from the Promotion Ceremony and 8th Grade Party.
I have collected nearly 100 photography galleries in my MLA Photography Collection. I started photographing some of the graduating Melrose Leadership Academy students when they were still in pre-school. My daughter was part of the first kindergarten class; my son started two years later. My children did not finish at MLA, but they are also part of the legacy.… Read the rest
This is the first school year that one of my children have not attended Melrose Leadership Academy since the school began it’s dual immersion program in 2009. I have been taking pictures of the school before my kids started attending.
During the first year of the dual immersion program, my daughter was a kindergarten student. I began photographing all the kindergarteners. When my son started at MLA, I continued photographing the kindergarten class.
When the school moved to the new site, I kept taking pictures. After my kids left the school, I did not know what to do. Eventually, I decided that I would continue. My kids may have left the school, but I will always feel connected.
This year, Harold Lowe helped me when I photographed the kindergarten class. Harold has three children at MLA. Harold and I have become friends; our children are friends too. To view the gallery from this year, click the link.… Read the rest
This is the eighth year that I have photographed the Melrose Leadership Academy dual immersion kindergarten students. I have photographed every kindergarten class since MLA introduced the Spanish bilingual program. My daughter was in the first class; my son started two years later. I have also photographed other activities, often as the Historian. (See the MLA Collection of Galleries.)
MLA is an OUSD district school. We have created something special in a place where failure is expected. If I did not have my pictures, I would question whether we ever built the school. Some days, I still wonder if I am hallucinating.
One of my mentors, Jim McNay, recently sent me an article about long-term projects from the Magnum Photo Agency site. The authors provide “Five lessons in developing and sustaining a long-term photographic project.” The first lesson: have a mission statement. Why is this story important?… Read the rest
The Melrose Leadership Academy after school program students presented the 2016 Winter Performance Expo on January 20, 2016. I believe that I have photographed each performance expo since my daughter started MLA in 2009. If I am correct, this is my 13th.
A baker’s dozen
I enjoy watching our younger students prepare for their first assemblies. I enjoy watching them grow into confident performers.
I also cherish seeing older students. Some of these older students I have been photographing since they were in pre-school. I wish our school system would create standardized tests that measured collaboration and presentation abilities. Our students would exceed expectations.
Technology has changed since I first started photographing MLA students… and the marketing of photography products reminds us that “everything has changed about photography.”
But it hasn’t.… Read the rest
When my 11 year old daughter began kindergarten at Melrose Leadership Academy, I had a simple idea. I thought I could photograph each kindergarten class as long as my children attended the school. I live in the neighborhood. How difficult could it be?
As I tell my photography students, simple and easy are not the same. “Simple” is difficult and my simple idea has become more difficult this year. I teach in a district an hour away from my home. We have the same breaks, so I don’t have a week to visit the school.
There is another complication. I try to create something different each year. MLA was at a different site the first three years, so those pictures all look different from the more recent images. Each year I wonder how I am going to create something interesting. Last year, I gave the kids magnifying glasses. This year, the students photographed me with my smartphone.… Read the rest
On a standardized test, what does a leader look like? How do you build standardized assessments that reward collaboration and creativity? If you wanted to identify the next Julia Morgan, would you rely on the SAT?
The two 5th grade pioneer classes from Melrose Leadership Academy visited Mills College in Oakland, California. Mills College is in our neighborhood, so the students walked to Mills. Melrose fifth graders are the architects who have built MLA into a model for urban education. This year, I photographed Ms. Jessica’s 5th grade students during their neighborhood field trip to Mills. In April of 2012, I photographed the 2011-2012 kindergarten classes for their expeditionary learning project at the campus creek. That was also our the last year that MLA was at the old Elizabeth Sherman site. The walk was shorter.
During both visits, students learned about native plants and the natural environments supported by a native ecosystem.… Read the rest
My two children attend Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, California. MLA is a Spanish dual immersion K-8 school. Our school is part of Oakland Unified School District. In previous years, I have posted more frequently about our school, but this year I have been busy teaching photography and yearbook at Pittsburg High School. Both school districts finish their year next week. In this post, I will share a few events I photographed during 2014.
When I walk into the school, I “read” the signs on the wall. I see many of the signs when I am editing my photos. There is one sign that I seem to see more than any others. It reads, “Somos responsables de nosostros mismos y de nuestra comunidad.”
We are responsible for ourselves and our community
I do not speak Spanish, but I can look at my pictures and see people caring for each other.… Read the rest
Registration just started for the 2013-2014 school year. Kindergarten families and first graders register today. (I remember registering our first child before the Spanish immersion program started. We were scared!) Many people worry when they send kids to school… any school, so I thought I would post the galleries from last year’s kindergarten and first grade classes.
Here are photos of both first grade classes. Except for the photo that includes me, I took these photos in June. 2012-2013 First Grade Photo Gallery. I think a first grader took the photo of me, and I probably should give him credit and ask permission before posting it.Here is the 2012-13 Kindergarten Photo Gallery. Did you think your kids would have this much fun by the end of kinkindergarten? Tomorrow the second through fourth graders register. On Friday August 16, the sixth through eighth graders register. Remember to click the link if you wish to view the photo gallery.… Read the rest
When I first became a parent, I felt as if I had joined a secret club. Membership included our own version of a secret handshake too. (It is a sleepy head nod.) New parents could identify each other anywhere. We would also commiserate about our lack of sleep and share our humbling experience of becoming a parent. We knew parenting would be rewarding, but we did not know that it would be so difficult. Sometimes we discussed how we finally understood our parents… or worse, how we had become our parents.
Becoming a teacher was a similar process for me. I assumed it was going to be easier, probably because I had worked with young people for many years. I had also been a good student! What could be so hard? It was a good stable career. I liked kids. Besides, there is all that vacation. (Just like parenting has all that free time when the kids go to bed.) Well, if you have ever been a parent who looked forward to Friday night housecleaning, you might understand teachers and all their free time.… Read the rest