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
“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
“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
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.