Screenshot of Mr. Vargas and his students featured on NBC news

Selected from thousands of entries nationwide, ENLACE's Art Teacher, Shaddai Vargas, and his students have been named the Massachusetts state winners in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest for their proposed plan to address the causes of the Merrimack Valley gas disaster. The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest encourages teachers and students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Mr. Vargas was inspired to submit a proposal for the contest based on conversations he’d had with his students in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley Gas Fires. Students had many questions about how something so terrible could happen in their community. As a result of these conversations, Mr. Vargas submitted a proposal to Samsung Solve for Tomorrow designed to help students learn about the causes of the gas explosions in Lawrence, explore chemical properties of natural gas and heating technology safety, and identify solutions to improve natural gas safety in the community. ENLACE is among the nation’s 50 state winners and will receive $20,000 in technology for its achievement and the opportunity to advance to the next phase of the contest and win additional prizes and educational opportunities. Congratulations, Mr. Vargas!

Students dancing

On Thursday, December 20th, the ENLACE community celebrated its 4th annual Storytellers' Café and Holiday Party. Nearly 200 students, families, staff, and community partners came together for a delicious potluck dinner and student showcase. Some students presented their immigration stories, which they had written in ESL class, and others shared their musical talents. The ENLACE Theater Company performed as well as the Salsa Dance Club. It was an evening to remember. Happy Holidays from the ENLACE Community!

Students meeting in the Stronger Juntos club

This year ENLACE will see its first class of students from 2015-16 walk across the stage and graduate from Lawrence High School. As more students have transitioned out of the newcomer academy and into the Lower and Upper Schools, many have come back to share their advice and wisdom with current students. This year Lisaidy Zabala, a former ENLACE student and current junior in the Upper School Academy, has taken this to the next level by starting a new club called Stronger Juntos. She wrote a very compelling proposal to her former principal and teachers about her own experience transitioning out of the newcomer academy and her vision for a mentoring program where she and other former ENLACE students could support peers who are just beginning their high school path.  The after-school program meets weekly and provides tutoring and homework help, student-led presentations about topics such as MCAS, GPA, graduation requirements, SATs, and applying to college, and opportunities to get formal and informal advice from peers who have had similar experiences. The club has now met for several weeks and has members across grades 9-12. We can't wait to see how it grows!

Mayer at WIDA Conference

ENLACE Dean of Curriculum & Instruction, Lindsey Mayer, traveled to Detroit, MI, last week to present at the national WIDA Conference. Her session, titled "Using Data Inquiry Cycles to Drive Student Language Growth "  focused on how ENLACE teachers use the Data Wise process for collaborative inquiry to analyze students' language development using WIDA Model assessment data and action plan for instructional improvement. Ms. Mayer's session had more than 50 attendees from around the country. 

Families gather in a circle

ENLACE recently held its first Café con ENLACE of the 2018-19 school year. Café con ENLACE started last year as an alternative model to a traditional PTO in order to foster deeper and more culturally responsive family engagement and leadership within the school community. At this first event, we welcomed more than 30 family members as well as students and teachers to build relationships, engage in discussion and collaboration, and set a vision for our work together this year. Students helped ENLACE staff introduce families to Restorative Justice circles, which they use during the school day on a regular basis, and we conducted the meeting in a circle format. Families shared their hopes and dreams for their children and their vision for collaboration with the school this year, and the group decided that their next meeting would take place during the school day so they can come visit classrooms and learn more about instruction. We can't wait for the next Café con ENLACE!