California Educator

March 2014

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" W H AT A R E T H E TO P 'soft' skills employers are looking for?" Leah Belote asks students at Sunnymead Middle School in Moreno Valley. Belote looks expectantly at the teens, who show up for a Junior Black Achievers meeting every Wednesday before school begins. Today is Dress for Success Day, so the boys are wearing shirts and ties, and the girls wear slacks and skirts. Students raise their hands to discuss skills that are valued in the workplace, including teamwork, communication, time management and leadership skills. Ky m be r l y Tay l o r s ay s, "As we build strong relations with paren ts, the te st score s of African American studen ts have gone up." Left: Reagan Clark, Taariq Elmahadi and Delan te Moxley at Valley View High School. RESEARCH Closing gaps, opening doors Closing African American achievement gaps in Moreno Valley B Y S H E R R Y P O S N I C K - G O O D W I N "And you know not to come into a job interview with sagging pants, Jordans and bling-bling," says the Moreno Valley Edu- cators Association member with a smile. Junior Black Achievers clubs meet weekly at each of the district's six middle schools to discuss everything from job skills to college to technology. Activities include tutoring, field trips to colleges, community service, and presentations of guest speakers who are successful African American role models. There are also social events that teach etiquette, with adult guest speakers giving advice and encouragement. "I was a C student, and now I'm getting B's," says eighth-grader Tario Scott, who is vice president. "This club helped me feel better about myself and encouraged me to get better grades so I can be on a college path." Before joining the club, seventh-grader Ariyon Dawson was shy. She seldom participated in class dis- cussions and was a C student. "Now I'm on the high honor roll. I focus better in class. I have learned how to communicate with people." Eighth-grader and club presi- dent Jay Martinez joined last year because he wanted his grades to go up. "Once I started going to tutoring and asking the teachers Leah Belote Know & Tell Tips to share 16 M A R C H 2 0 1 4 Educator 03 Mar 2014 v2.0 int.indd 16 3/6/14 10:52 AM

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