Today we began the first of three days at the national conference of Computer Using Educators (CUE) in Palm Springs, CA. What makes this conference unique is the opportunity to hear stories from teachers around the country about how technology is changing education and inspiring student success. Today I had the privilege of talking with Ruben Duenas, Principal of the Bert Corona Charter Middle School in Pacoima, CA. Last year, Ruben sent 15 of his top students to DMA at Stanford University, where students took Adventures in Web Design and Flash. This year, Ruben plans to send another group of 15 middle school students to UCLA for Web Design and Flash Animation for Teens. In the meantime, the group he sent last year is trying to fund raise their way back to another DMA class!
Many of these students come from families that would not be able to send their children to a program like DMA without the encouragement and support of the Bert Corona School. Many of these students, in fact, will hopefully be the first in their family to go to college. The DMA experience thus provides a very unique opportunity for these students to experience college life while gaining new skills in a creative environment. The hope is that these young minds will be inspired and will gain confidence through discovering new interests – interests that lead to truly marketable skills. Furthermore, the college campus experience motivates students to work hard and be college-bound. Ruben’s efforts to send students to DMA for a summer learning experience is consistent with the overall mission of the Bert Corona Charter Schools. As their website explains, “the Bert Corona Charter School seeks to close the achievement gap for urban students in grades 6-8 and equip students for academic success, active community participation and life-long learning.”
What I appreciate about Ruben is that he is trying to narrow the achievement gap in several ways. In addition to providing a unique opportunity for low-income families, he is narrowing in on the gender gap as well. In both 2008 and 2009, he has sent more girls than boys, thus painting the picture to these girls that learning about technology is for everyone!
For more information about our presence at the CUE conference, go to a recent post by Phil Gibson.