“Do the best you can, with what you got, where you’re at.”

A simple phrase to catch the Social Justice Humanitas Academy’s first semester as part of EduCare’s ACE (Achievement and Commitment to Excellence) Initiative.

ACE creates a healthy and positive school culture that promotes student achievement and prepares them to succeed in college, career, and life. Few agencies use such a comprehensive and inclusive approach. Some work with students, some with parents, and others train educators. ACE supports all three to create a school environment that meets the social and emotional developmental needs of students – including feelings of belonging, safety, and community. ACE creates exceptional school conditions for success across the domains of young people’s lives. In our current charged socio-political climate, safe havens, positive connections between youth and adults, and nurturing environments are needed now more than ever.

 At SJHA, the ACE Initiative has helped the school grow its culture of love, empathy and high standards. SJHA kicked off the year with ACE days for all students and quickly moved into supporting the start of womens’ group, a college prep bootcamp for mentors, ​​​​a 9th Grade Leadership Academy and making sure the school helped 100% of eligible seniors apply to four year universities. The teachers worked to plan more social emotional learning and mindfulness into their classrooms, helping students have the tools, knowledge and skills to address the challenges and trauma in their lives. Teachers also “adopted” students, making sure the students most in need had positive relationships with peers and adults. Finally, SJHA offered two parent nights for all parents focused on social emotional learning and parent-student communication.

By the end of the semester, as our Principal Mr. Navarro reminds them, students are continuing to feel “beautiful, loved and blessed.”