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 JCCS Students Share Ideas to Improve Classroom

A group of students in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility are getting real-life lessons about responsibility and problem-solving as part of an effort to upgrade classrooms there.

The discussions between educators and students at Sarah Anthony School serves as a way to incorporate the critical-thinking called for in the Common Core State Standards while improving the facility there.

“We’re modeling the same practices that we would expect anywhere,” said Stacy Spector, executive director of the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools​.

The students had a brainstorming session with SDCOE administrators Sept. 13 to discuss additions and improvements they’d like to see in their classroom and help educators learn how to make learning more engaging and authentic.

At the top of the list were computers. Students living in the detention facility haven’t had access to computers or the internet.

Students said having access to online tools will help them keep up to date and will make lessons more interesting.

“We’re in a generation where we use a lot of technology, and we kind of need the technology to help us learn,” said one of the 11th-graders who wrote a letter.

Along with the new technology will come new responsibilities. The students also talked about their obligation to use the devices properly and to keep them in good shape.

Students also said they would like to have tables instead of chair-desk combos so they would be able to more easily collaborate and work on projects together while sitting in more comfortable chairs.

“We wouldn’t get distracted from the pain in our backs and focus more on our work,” another student said in his letter.

Reading material was another big priority. The students said they would like to have a variety of different non-academic books around to read.

“I’m really pleased at how sincere they were in their requests,” said their teacher, Theresa Fox.

Spector told the students she’d make sure they get at least some of what they asked for within the next several weeks.

Similar conversations will be regular and ongoing, Spector said.

The whole experience has helped promote teamwork and build skills the students will need as adults, one of the letter writers said.

“I’m very grateful to be having the opportunity to become part of this,” he said.