Students leave Mission High School at the end of the school day on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Class of 2019 prepared for real-world experiences

I remember 40 years ago when I was preparing to graduate from McAteer. The internet and smartphones didn’t yet exist. Drivers Ed and swimming were still graduation requirements. Suffice it to say, the class of 2019 is entering a different world than when I graduated.

As the world changes, so does the way we teach. Today, our students learn in all sorts of innovative ways as we equip them with the skills and competencies they need to thrive in the 21st century.

We help our students master the fundamentals they need to know to succeed — like math, English, computer science and art— and develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

There are signs that many of our 2019 grads are well prepared for the careers of today.

For instance, math enrollment data for the class of 2019 shows that more students took higher level math classes than ever before and the students who are taking those classes are more diverse.

With the support of our business community, thousands of graduates have participated in career pathway programs that have connected them with internships and job shadow opportunities while they’re still in high school. This means that as they prepare to graduate they’ve already had those real-world experiences.

In addition to being ready for careers and life, the San Francisco Unified School District has five other characteristics we want every SFUSD student to embody when they graduate from high school. Today, I want to introduce you to a few members of the class of 2019 who each exemplify one or more of these readiness traits in their own unique way.

Ready to Think, Learn and Grow

Ainsley Sanidad is a passionate advocate who is a role model to her peers at Balboa High School. She has a strong desire to develop solutions for real-world problems. With a focus on housing in San Francisco, her involvement with SFUSD’s PuLsE, a leadership pathway that allows students to explore their communities and become stewards of them, has motivated Ainsley to think critically about the world around her and create a positive impact while evolving as a student and leader.

Ready to create

Jaheim Tate is a true embodiment of creativity, intelligence and motivation. As a school ambassador at Independence High School, he represents what it means to be a student leader within SFUSD, and a resource for his peers and the larger school community. Jaheim is a talented performer, community volunteer, member of the Black Student Union, part of the Yearbook Club and is enrolled in courses at City College of San Francisco to prepare him for post-graduation success. A highly skilled dancer, his desire to motivate others to express themselves authentically is at the root of his creative process.

Ready to lead

Rebecca Cavanaugh is synonymous with student leadership. As president of the School Site Council at Philip and Sala Burton High School, she works with her principal to create the agenda for monthly meetings attended by faculty, parents, and community advocates. Thoughtful and diligent, she demonstrates strong allyship and is an effective collaborator as evidenced through her involvement with SFUSD’s Student Advisory Council as well as her ongoing efforts to engage her peers in the political process. She serves as the elections ambassador and is on the mock trial team. Rebecca knows that her voice can have impact and catalyze change within her community.

Ready for career

Determination is an understatement when describing Zhenyn Lin. When he walked into San Francisco International High School two years ago as a newcomer student, it was the beginning of what some would consider a challenge. His desire and motivation to succeed is evidenced in how he approaches his clear passion for computer engineering. While still in high school, he is enrolled in courses at City College of San Francisco where he is learning coding, computer network security, calculus and information technology.

Ready to be their best

Jannelly Hernandez Umanzor is a hard worker, unwavering in her pursuit to succeed. Undeterred by physical challenges and always with a positive disposition, she has excelled in her AP courses at Lincoln High School and gives back to her community with a great sense of compassion. She has served as a teacher’s aide and regularly helps tutor students who struggle academically. A native Spanish speaker, she has volunteered with organizations like the Center for Urban Education and translated brochures about Sustainable Agriculture into Spanish. Jannelly aspires to become an app developer for people with disabilities to improve their access and mobility. She has a passion for learning and genuine desire to connect with the world.

Ready to Tackle a Changing World

Joshua Park has proven that there is more than one way to inspire change in one’s community. A high achieving scholar at Lowell High School, he has proven that his quest for learning can extend far beyond the classroom. His involvement with the San Francisco Youth Commission is a demonstration of his passion for community advocacy. He has previously participated in a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellowship and is co-creator of the District 4 Youth Council. Identifying ways to make change in his community, he served on the Vote16 USA Youth Advisory Board which sought to lower the voting age to 16 in San Francisco. He is an outgoing, fearless student leader and youth advocate.

I love hearing about and meeting our amazing SFUSD grads. Tell me about the amazing SFUSD grads in your life #SFUSDgrad

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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