The mission of the City of Youth is to develop students academic, personal, technology, and critical thinking skills to meet the standards required for success in post-secondary education, vocational settings, and as contributing citizens in the community by implementing the use of leadership, team sports and technological navigation as motivation for higher educational achievement. In order to accomplish our mission, the following core principles outline key aspects to our approach:
1. Outcome-based, Individualized Learning:
Students graduate after they master COY’s academic, personal, media/technology and critical thinking skill requirements, satisfy California’s high school graduation requirements, and pass the CAHSEE.
2. Small Class Sizes
18 – 21 students per class facilitates individual attention to student’s personal needs.
3. Focus on Core Academic Curriculum
COY will offer a California learning standards aligned core subject curriculum and thorough CAHSEE exam preparation. COY’s curriculum platform is built on a competency based framework in which students demonstrate “mastery” of core content through multiple forms of assessment and presentation and performances of their learning. Each course will clearly define the graduation content and skill standards that are covered by that course and will have clearly defined evaluative rubrics, as well as traditional tests, to evaluate students’ mastery. Direct instruction, project based activities, applied practice, and individualized skill reinforcement will help students develop academic skills and content knowledge.
4. Experiential and Project-Based Curricula
COY believes that learning best occurs when education is relevant to a student’s interests. Therefore, COY embraces a student-centered approach to learning using authentic, real world contexts which promote active, exploratory, and inquiry-based learning. COY also believes project-based learning best captures students’ interests and develops their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Each subject area’s curriculum is organized around a sequence of projects that challenge students to apply and integrate their knowledge.
5. Career Context
In keeping with the notion that learning best occurs when education is relevant to a student’s life, COY believes that instruction is most effective when it is contextualized to the world outside the classroom. COY’s students will be immersed in a learning environment that values a strong connection to career planning and skill building at every level.
6. Personal Skills Training
COY believes that, in addition to the skills required for success in post-secondary education and employment, an educated person in the 21st century needs well developed emotional intelligent skills such as self-reflection, empathy, interpersonal relationship building; conflict resolution; work culture fluency; and taking responsibility for self, family, and community. These skills will be taught explicitly at COY and will be reinforced by students’ experiences in team projects, leadership development opportunities, and public performances.
7. Policy, Procedure, and Accountability
To reinforce the strategies that enable the young people to advance themselves and those around them, COY integrates the opinions of the student population when developing organizational policies and procedures. By involving the youth in creating the guidelines that govern both students and staff, the young people have a sense of ownership over the center and abide by what is set for themselves. In addition, the youth organically and respectfully hold each other accountable to these policies and procedures thus creating a stable community within the program
8. Create Relevant and Tangible Learning and Service Experiences
To successfully engage our low performing youth, schools must offer curricular content that is of interest to them and addresses their experiences or “priori”. Studies show that 70% of the LAUSD’s students are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. In most cases, this issue must be addressed before tangible learning can be attained or even, desired. COY’s Game Plan program challenges students to “get it out” and to “get on with their lives” through practicing the mental toughness strategies in the program.
9. Available Support after Graduation:
COY will explicitly focus on the success of its graduates even after graduation. It is incumbent that we continue to support youths without active mentors at home or in the community. These young people need continuous support with college enrollment and grant writing even before the college journey begins. COY will provide support to facilitate planning and monitor students’ post graduate and job progress. COY has built active partnerships with various colleges (Antioch University, L.A. Southwest College, etc.). Graduates will be able to access tutoring, technological help, and assistance in completing applications.
10. A Safe, Positive, Loving Community of Peers and Adults:
Although the majority of COY’s student population is comprised of adjudicated, disconnected, and youth suffering from PTSD, no metal detectors or other measures will be implemented, The front door of the school building will always locked and the person at the front desk buzzes everyone in. We want our students to have a safe environment from outsiders inside our school doors. Our goal is to instill a sense of honor, love, and respect for the school, its contents, the staff, peers, teachers, and administrators. Our goal is to build a positive school culture that is safe, caring, and loving. COY will build on this deep knowledge base to build a school culture with explicit positive values and mutual commitment to each other’s success to address the common issues of anger management, alcoholism, and drug dependencies, poor family and peer skills, violence, gang activity, lack of clarity about the consequences of one’s actions or about one’s options.
11. High Expectations for Teachers and Students:
COY’s educational model is built on the belief that our youth can achieve in a school setting that has motivational, meaningful, and authentic learning experiences and where they are supported by adults who have high expectations, the ability to monitor students’ academic progress, and a commitment to help them navigate their way through high school toward post secondary education and a meaningful life of learning, COY has high expectations for all students. Every student will be prepared for college and career success and a rigorous set of graduation standards will be set for all to meet. This includes the required academic competencies, passing the CAHSEE exam, meeting their community service hours, completing college and/or career readiness portfolios, and developing the appropriate leadership competencies.
12. Involvement in Leadership and Civic Engagement Opportunities:
COY will provide leadership development and civic engagement projects and opportunities. Students will be involved in school wide policy committees that provide input and feedback into school operations, teacher quality and assessments, academic rigor and relevance. Students will also have opportunities to serve in council meetings and student leadership councils, and to participate in advocacy and public speaking on behalf of low-income youth at the local, state, and national level