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Jobs Program Gives People a Purpose

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By Leland Kim, UCSF News

After dropping out of college, 20-year-old Rodney Zinn found himself working various restaurant jobs in San Francisco making minimum wage.

“I was trying to figure out who I am and figure out where I’m going,” he said. “What is my purpose in life? I was just living.”

He wanted to find a career where he could help people. He gravitated towards the medical field because he grew up watching his mother battle multiple sclerosis, a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.

“I wanted to be in a position where I could help people the way the doctors and other medical folks helped my mom when I was growing up,” Zinn said. “I always knew that health care was my passion, and that’s what I wanted to do. But it’s hard being black, being 20 years old without a college degree to even get a break.”

Zinn’s aunt told him about an opportunity with the EXCEL (Excellence through Community Engagement and Learning) program, a partnership of UC San Francisco, the City and County of San Francisco and the Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). It is a work-based learning program that uses both classroom and on-the-job training to prepare participants for career path job in the health care sector.

Out of more than 100 applicants, Zinn and 18 of his classmates were chosen to start the seventh cycle of the EXCEL program in May 2014.

“This was the foot in the door that I needed,” he said. “This program not only helped me unlock my potential, but it helped me see a vision that I could reach. It helped me open my eyes to new horizons.”

The 19 interns started with classroom training. Then in August, they transitioned to on-the-job training at various UCSF departments and clinics.

“The EXCEL Cycle 7 class has been an amazing group of interns,” said Damon Lew, assistant director of community relations at UCSF, who directs the EXCEL program. “They came into the program tremendously focused on their career goals and this is reflected by the number of interns that are either working in temp positions at UCSF or moving on to career positions after their internship.”

Out of 18 graduates, at least three have been placed in permanent jobs at UCSF.

“Damon is the most influential person associated with this program,” said Portia Jackson, who also graduated from the EXCEL program this cycle.

“He has the drive to help people succeed, to want people to succeed, and to actually oversee this program,” she said. “He has that desire to make this program work. Behind the scenes, he’s done some amazing things to create opportunities for us, and to get us in career positions.”

“Rodney has extraordinary empathy for the patients and their families,” said Diane Sabin, clinic administrative director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “His dedication to serve others is now coupled with his new-found drive to learn more about clinics and patient care. I know that Rodney’s work will touch many people’s lives.”

Despite being the youngest person in the program, Zinn secured a permanent career position as a patient care coordinator with the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center.

“Rodney’s passion for the job, his eagerness for the role, his maturity at a young age and his genuineness in the way he presented himself really made him stand out,” said Galen Laserson, practice manager of the Multiple Sclerosis Center.

“Our patient care coordinators work with our patients directly and it became clear that he could speak to our patients with a great amount of empathy, and his excitement about learning more about multiple sclerosis came through. This is someone we want to invest in, train and have as valuable member of our team.”

Zinn has found, what he describes as an “ideal career position,” since he is helping patients who are battling the same disease his mom has.

Commentary

Closing the Loss of Learning Reading Gap

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

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The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

By Conway Jones

Reading is the foundation of a good education and fundamental to success in life.

Can you imagine your life without reading? What if you couldn’t read well enough to follow directions, conduct your business, or even enjoy a good book?

Success starts early. Until 3rd grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, they’re reading to learn. Students who don’t achieve literacy by third grade fall behind and become bored, frustrated, and unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education.

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

This summer, they did it. RPL hired Sylvan Learning to provide 15 children, 50 hours of support education to help them achieve literacy at EnCompass Academy in East Oakland.

Sylvan Learning tested the children at the beginning of the program: they were one year to over two years behind grade level in literacy. At the end of RPL’s five-week program, 93% of the students enrolled in the RPL pilot program at EnCompass completed it and the attendance rate was 86%, or an average of 43 hours completed in the 50-hour program.

Students advanced by almost 50% of a school year to grade level. Students grew on all three components of the Sylvan Outlook Survey, indicating a 25% increase in their engagement with school, improvement in their academic perseverance, and their confidence in reading.

All of the parents surveyed indicated that the program was beneficial, that it helped their child read better, their child enjoyed the program, and their confidence in reading improved.

As the parent of one of our students put it, “If you believe in it, you can do it!”

The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

The school staff was thrilled with the overall academic improvements and is eager to partner again next spring. Based on the success last summer, Right Path to Learning will provide additional services to the Oakland Unified School District students in the advancement of its goal of ensuring that 2,000 under-resourced students reach literacy by the end of 3rd grade.

“Our children made substantial progress in confidence and in reading growth. Because of that, a student shared that she is now spending two hours at the library because she is able to read better,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal at OUSD’s EnCompass Academy. “That’s a powerful testimony to the program’s success, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with Right Path to Learning,” she continued.

Right Path to Learning program will move from a Summer School program to an After School program starting January 2022.

In 10 years, these third graders will be 18-year-old adult members of our community, on their way to productive lives and life-long learning.

For more information, visit www.RightPathtoLearning.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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