BHS Academic Choice Etree -  
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AC Advisory Council Meeting - October 7 at 7:30 G-109

The next ACAC meeting will be on Friday, October 7 at 7:30 a.m. in G-109*. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.! The first part of each meeting is typically set aside for Public/Parent comments and questions.

* This is a new and different location from past ACAC meetings. See the campus map in the section just below for help.

AC General Fall Meeting

Tuesday, October 18th - 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Building D, BHS Library, 2nd Floor
AC parents and guardians: Please join the lead AC teachers, AC VP Ms. Felicia Phillips and other AC parents for Fall Information Night on Tuesday, October 18 from 7 pm to 9 pm in Building D in the BHS LIbrary on the 2nd Floor. Campus Map

All members of the AC community are welcome and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served and there will be time to meet and socialize with others in the AC community a bit before and after the meeting.


Message from the AC VP, Ms. Felicia Phillips

Hello Academic Choice Families:
On behalf of AC Teacher Leaders, Amanda Marini and Amina Sheikh, I would like to formally welcome you to the 2016-2017 school year at Berkeley High School. We were delighted to see so many of you on campus recently to meet your children’s teachers during Back to School Night. Special thanks to Susie Marcus and an enthusiastic group of 9th grade parents for organizing and hosting our first-ever Meet & Greet reception for freshman families!

I’d also like to introduce you to the new faculty and staff who are working with Academic Choice students this year:
New to BHS:
Tiffany Augusta-Gaines (Special Ed)
Melanie Aguas (College Advisor, 12th grade last names A-Sm)
Jamie Bascom (Biology & BioTech)
Brianna Brooks (College Advisor, 9th & 10th grades)
Alice Bynum (9th & 10th grade History)
Debra Clark (Academic Counselor, last names Gi-Ng)
Jasmin Mumford (Mathematics)
Juan Rodriguez (Academic Counselor, last names A-Gh)
Kiernan Rok (Dean of Students)
Erica Schwartz (Spanish)
Lena Sweeney (Special Education)
Vivian Wong (Chemistry)
New to AC:
Alex Day, History (9th grade History)
Laura Gorrin (Mathematics)
Benjamin Kyler (Special Education)
Uri Skowronski (Biology)
Sean Stevens (9th English)
Returning to AC:
Alex Angell (AP US History)
Matt Laurel (9th grade English)

To reach anyone at BHS, please visit the Staff Directory for our email addresses and phone numbers.
Here are a few fast facts about Academic Choice for 2016-2017:
*25 AC parents showed up for our first AC Advisory Council meeting of the year; thank you for your interest and engagement!
*40 percent of all BHS students are enrolled in AC; we are a big small school!
*75 AC students are enrolled in our Advanced Placement Computer Science classes; we are developing the next generation of coders, makers and founders!
This year at Berkeley High School, there are seven key focus areas related to curriculum, instruction, assessment and school culture. In future editions of the AC Etree, you’ll find out more about our work in each area.
We are looking forward to an excellent year of learning and achieving!


  AC Teacher Wishlist

As you may know, our hardworking teachers pay for many school supplies out of their own pockets. Or, they spend their unpaid time writing grants to get needed supplies. Or, they make do creatively without! Parents can help improve the students' learning experience and their school environment by donating needed items - everything from boxes of tissues to sophisticated electronics are needed. Please click on this link and see if you can help by donating. Check the link again and again if you can - not all of the AC core teachers have put in their 'wishes' yet. Thank you!

Click the link below to sign up and donate!

Items should be clearly marked and brought to the BHS front desk. Ask the front desk volunteer to put the item(s) in Ms. Felicia Phillips' office please. If you order something online to be delivered to the school, be sure the name of the teacher it is intended for is part of the order.
Q and A with AC Lead Teachers,
 Amina Sheikh & Amanda Green

First, the entire AC community wants to give a big THANK YOU to teacher, Tim Zollezi! Mr. Zollezi was  an AC lead teacher for many years and we thank him for his hard work and dedication to AC.

And yet another big THANK YOU goes to this year's lead teachers, Amanda Marini and Amina Sheikh. Amanda has been at BHS for 13 years and teaches Freshman Language and Composition and the popular Senior elective, World of Media, which she runs as a film theory class. Amina grew up here in the East Bay and we are lucky that she has landed at BHS where she teaches history.

AC parent, Catherine Ference, sat down with Amina and Amanda to learn a bit more about our AC lead teachers. Here is what they shared about themselves, their goals for AC and teaching at BHS.

Amina Sheikh

Q: Where are you from and what are your hobbies outside of teaching?

I grew up in Oakland, and moved back to the Bay Area three years ago. I have a 7-month old, so I don't have too many hobbies outside of teaching these days! I love spending time with her, and I also like to swim and get outdoors as much as I can.

Q: Where did you attend school?
I did my undergraduate degree in History at Brown University and completed my Masters in Education through the Boston Teacher Residency.

Q: What led you into teaching?
I stumbled into teaching while working at a summer program for middle schoolers in San Francisco; I realized it was the most fun that I could possibly have at work. I've stayed in the classroom because I love the communities that students are able to create and I feel that schools are one of the most fulfilling places to work towards social justice.

Q: What are the joys and challenges of teaching at BHS?
The BHS community is incredible; this is one of the most diverse student bodies I've had the privilege to work with and there is a wealth of knowledge and experience among the staff. BHS students are genuinely committed to this community and are willing to take on leadership roles in a way that is unusual for high-school students. I'd say the biggest challenges are the ones teachers are dealing with almost everywhere; struggling to stay in the profession given rising costs of living, and maintaining a sense of balance at a job that requires so much commitment and emotional energy. 
Q: What have your students taught you?
The list is endless! Everything from how to hook up the projector in my classroom, to how to ask good questions and keep my mind open to new perspectives. I am in awe of how our students are able to really listen to one another across differences, and their willingness to learn from each other. 

Amanda Marini

Q: As a lead teacher for AC, do you have any particular goals for our learning community this year?
The entire school is focused on Culturally Responsive Teaching this year with the goal of creating classroom environments that embrace the range of experiences and cultures our students bring to the classroom. In addition to this, we are hoping to create more opportunities for collaboration across content areas, bringing in elements of social-emotional learning, and supporting staff in continuing to build strong classroom communities.

Q: Why did you change your name? 
Lots of people are wondering about my name change this summer. Last spring I decided to change my name to my husband and children's last name. My daughter started kindergarten this fall and I wanted to have the same last name. The biggest factor was my kids who were excited for us all to be Marinis. It is taking some getting used to at Berkeley High!
 Q: This is your second year as AC Lead Teacher. What do you see as the strengths and challenges of AC? 
In year two as lead, I see the strengths of AC being our devoted and energetic humanities staff who have been working closely together to develop our curriculum and teaching methodology. What an inspiring group of people to work with! We are challenged by time, however. Any teacher will tell you there is never enough time. With more time, we could do so many things that would make the experience and education for our students better. I also wish we were able to expend our freshmen and sophomore cores to include math and science teachers. This would help us improve personalization and student support through cross-content teacher collaboration. Maybe someday we will be able to organize AC with a "house" structure to allow for this.
Q: What are your goals for the AC community this year? 
AC's goals for the year are aligned with our school wide goals. We are working with our teachers on CRT - Culturally Responsive Teaching and CM - Constructing Meaning. What this means is we are really thinking about HOW we are in the classroom and what environment we create for students, especially students who are different from us culturally and racially. We want our classrooms to be safe spaces and that work starts with us examining ourselves and thinking about what we need to change to improve our classroom culture. CM is really about training all our students to access and own academic language. There are many levels of sophistication students can learn. CM strategies allow us to differentiate for students at different levels of academic language development. Finally, we are building community as a staff. We are stronger as teachers when working together so we've been spending time building strong relationships through collaboration and fun.
Q: What are you the most excited about at BHS this year?
 This year I am most excited about my students! Leadership is an adventure, but my heart is in the classroom and the kids are the reason we all come to work. I have an amazing group of students who are so open to learning and so full of ideas. They make all the prep work rewarding because, in the end, I do it for them. 
Q: What was the high point of your summer?
A few highlights from my summer include our yearly trip to the East Coast to visit family. Both my husband and I grew up back East and our kids have 13 first cousins in New York and Massachusetts. We had a great time on my family farm in New York and with my husband's family outside of Boston. Also I spent my 40th birthday with my family and sister and brother-in-law at the Exploratorium in SF.

 Amanda enjoying her summer!

Save the Date!
The annual BHSDG Cheeseboard Fundraiser  will be on:
Sunday, October 23

Look for more information about  this fundraising event (tickets, prices, hours)  in the BHS etree in the coming weeks.
Thank you to everyone who came out to Back to School Night! And thank you to our VP, Ms. Felicia Phillips, and our AC teachers for inviting parents of freshman to come early for an informal Meet & Greet. It was well attended!
For the fun of it, here are a few candid shots from that occasion. Thank you to AC parent, Susie Marcus, for capturing the moment and organizing the Meet & Greet!

AC Advisory Committee (ACAC) Notes from September 2

September Meeting Summary: The September ACAC  meeting included introductions of our lead teachers -  Amina Sheikh and Amanda Marini , a brief discussion of plans for the AC Fall General Meeting, planning for an AC freshman parent meet and greet right before Back to School Night, discussion of a Wish List for teachers and more.

September Meeting Minutes:

For more information on ACAC please visit the "AC Governance" web page, which include links to all of the past ACAC meeting minutes.
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