Monday, April 16, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: April 9th - 13th

Hi all! 

Last week we had testing take place with both the middle school CMAS and high school PSAT/SAT. That said, we took advantage of the end of the week by sharing our final projects and moving onto our unit on marijuana. 

On Monday, Emily visited with Faviola, a representative from Colorado Jobs with Justice, to discuss apprenticeship opportunities in the metro area. Faviola discussed a wide variety of jobs in construction, plumbing, electrical, plumbing, welding, and much more. Students can begin the program once they turn 18 and graduate high school. With both the financial and academic incentives available for these programs, several upperclassmen were interested and plan to inquire more once they turn 18. 

On Tuesday, high school students took the PSAT and SAT while middle school students had the day off. Lucky. 

How to guides, a children's book, and a sphere of influence
painting were some of the many excellent project ideas.
Wednesday we were right back in it with reviewing our Unit 2 project presentations and completing our written reflections. Students shared some excellent projects with the class and I was once again very impressed with their efforts. 

On Thursday we started our Unit 3 lesson, Fact or Fiction, where we spent time dispelling the various myths and misunderstandings surrounding marijuana. Students participated in several activities including a yarn toss and 2 Truths and a Lie. By knowing the correction information surrounding drugs and drug use, students can avoid making bad decisions and educate others to do the same. 

Forgiveness children's book, a road map to self love,
and a comic strip on dating violence. 

On Friday the conversations continued as we discussed the marketing around marijuana. Students discussed how companies market and sell their products and why they would be motivated to sell to younger audiences. From there we watched a YouTube video discussing how tobacco was once marketed towards youth. Our conversations led to comparisons to both the tobacco industry as well as the fast food industry. Students discussed how the number of dispensaries, fast food restaurants, etc shows acceptance and creates a norm of consumption although their can be negative outcomes as well. From there, students read case scenarios on various marijuana hot topics and we discussed as a class how to best handle an uncomfortable or pressured situation. It was a very productive discussion and conversation that we plan to continue into next week. Stay tuned! -Ben 

Monday, April 9, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: April 2nd - 6th

Hi everyone!

Hi all! 

Last week we returned from spring break and we got right back into the swing of things by finishing up our Unit 2 projects and setting goals for the remainder of the semester! 

Monday was a professional development day with no students. Teachers met for PSAT/SAT Training and then broke up into different workshops and planning time. It was nice to take advantage of this time and reset before the students arrived on Tuesday. 

On Tuesday, classes resumed and we spent our time completing our grade trackers and conferencing with Neill and myself on both academic and personal goals for the remainder of the semester. As we are entering our final stretch of the year, we wanted students to identify where they are, where they want to be, and what changes or adjustments they need to make in order reach their goals. 

Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated work days for the Unit 2 project. Students worked individually, in their mentoring matches, and in small groups over the course of two days leading up to their presentations. 

With the purpose of the project asking for students to: "inspire others to examine and take action to improve their own relationships", we decided to have a conversation about inspiration and influence and how we can not only inspire others, but influence them to take action and make change. With the 50th anniversary of MLK Jr's passing, it seemed like an appropriate time to talk about how one can effectively make a difference. To do this, we compared a couple of lists as a class: 100 People Who've Changed the World and Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2017. These two lists led to a great discussion on inspiration versus influence. Students enjoyed talking about people on the world changer list like MLK, Gandhi, etc and comparing them to who made Time's list. Students made great points about how the selflessness and passion for helping others was a common theme for the all-time world changers list while self-promotion and social media popularity led to a lot of influence in today's society. 

Friday the class was spent presenting their Unit 2 projects and we had quite a bit of variety! Students did everything from movie trailers about self-love to podcasts, hotlines, children's books, a newspaper, interviews with teachers and students, a few YouTube videos, a rap, and banners and posters to hang around the school! It was incredible to see students come up with such creative ways to get their message across to a broader audience. The quality of the work was impressive and I'm so proud of their efforts. With limited time in class on Friday we weren't able to get through most of the presentations so we will have to finish them up later next week after testing - pictures and links to come at our next post! Stay tuned! -Ben

Monday, April 2, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: March 19th - 23rd

Hi everyone!

We had a busy and productive week before spring break took place! 

On Monday, our classes were to have presenters to discuss apprenticeships. However, due to a school lockout, the presentation was rescheduled and students took this time to work on their planning questions and research for their Unit 2 project. 

March for Our Lives Rally - Denver's Civic Center Park
Saturday March 24th 2018
Tuesday was a normal tutoring day focused primarily on completing our grade trackers, and working on classwork and job applications. For the remainder of the year being a bit in flux with testing, we decided as a class to change our tutoring days to Mondays going forward. This gives the students the full class period and additional support with Neill each week and will allow us to focus on grades and ending the year on a strong note. 

Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated work days for the Unit 2 project. By the end of the day Thursday, students had completed their planning questions as well as their research links. Most had started the final product itself so they could get a head start before break. The final products for these projects vary dramatically so I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out by the end of next week. 

March for Our Lives Rally - Denver's Civic Center Park
Saturday March 24th 2018
Friday was the last day before break so we decided to throw a party and celebrate. Students signed up and brought various food to share with the class. Everything from Takis and Hot Cheetos to enchiladas and tacos were shared! It was a great party and I was really impressed by such participation (albeit the sugar levels in some of the foods were questionable...). 

Finally, over the break I was able to attend the March for Our Lives rally at Denver's Civic Center Park. It is estimated that over 100,000 people were in attendance. Myself and several other West Leadership Academy teachers were in attendance and it was excellent to see such a strong showing of support for the safety of our students and teachers. 

Next week will be focused on finishing up our Unit 2 projects and then we'll be moving onto our next unit! See you then! -Ben

Hola a todos.

Tuvimos una semana productiva antes de las vacaciones de la primavera.

En el lunes, en nuestro horario fueron presentados para hablar sobre formaciones. Pero porqué cerraron la escuela por lockout las presentaciones estaban programados y los alumnos trabajaban en sus proyectos de tema 2, específicamente sus preguntas y sus investigaciones.

En el martes fue una dia normal de hacer tarea enfocando en cumplir nuestras papeles que tiene nuestras calificaciones, y trabajar en tarea y aplicaciones para trabajar. Hasta el fin del año escolar porque hay mucho cambio con examines, decidimos de cambiar los días de tarea en el lunes. Creemos que daremos los alumnos un tiempo completo con más apoyo con Neill (Leo) cada semana y nos dejan enfocar en calificaciones para terminar el año escolar fuerte.

En el miércoles y jueves dedicamos a trabajar para su proyecto de Tema 2. Al fin del dia en el jueves, los alumnos a terminado con sus preguntas y sus investigaciones. La mayoridad han empezando su proyecto actual para empezar bien antes de vacaciones. El producto final de los proyectos tiene much variedad entonces estoy emocionado ver como están al fin de la próxima semana.

En el viernes fue el ultimo dia antes de vacaciones entonces decidimos hacer fiesta y celebrar. Los alumnos llevaron un variedad de comidas para compartir durante de la clase. Todo entre Takis y Hot Cheetos a enchiladas y tacos fueron compartidos. Fue una buena fiesta y me encanta mucho la participación (aún había mucho azúcar que compartimos también).

Finalmente durante de los vacaciones podia asistir la huelga “March for Our Lives” en Civic Center Park en Denver. Hubo que más o menos 100.000 personas que asistieron. Algunos maestros de WLA y yo asistimos y fue excelente a ver un gran apoyo para la seguridad de los estudiantes y maestros.

En la próxima semana enfocamos en terminar los proyectos de tema 2 y luego vamos a la proxima tema. Nos vemos!- Ben

Monday, March 19, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: March 12th - 16th

Hi everyone!

A busy and important week over here at WLA with both the student walkouts as well as the conclusion of our Healthy Relationships unit. 

On Monday the class reviewed our letters of forgiveness and moved onto a discussion regarding love - how its defined, what it looks like, how its expressed, and its overall importance in our relationships and well being. Students were shown a few videos and answered discussion questions that transitioned well into a conversation on self love and our lessons set for Wednesday and Thursday. 

Tuesday was a normal tutoring day focused primarily on completing our grade trackers, working on classwork and job applications, and finishing up our YESS surveys. Students were shown how to email their teachers if they had any questions about their grades or were looking to improve them and make up some work. We asked for students who had grades at a C or lower to inquire with their teachers how to get things fixed. Additionally, I was impressed by the number of students showing interest in wanting to find a job. Several emailed me with a list of job links over the weekend that they'd like to follow up on at our next tutoring Tuesday session which was really exciting. 

Wednesday we had a busy day with both the student walkouts against gun violence and our guests Diane and Breanne in our 5th period class. To start the day, students were allowed to meet at Sunken Gardens for both a moment of silence as well as to protest against gun violence. Most of the high school attended and participated in the moment of silence as well as listened to a few speeches before returning to class. Most students did not participate in the march to the capitol that day. Instead, several have expressed interest in the capitol march set for 3/24. 

Students beginning to gather during
Wednesday's walkout.
During class time on Wednesday and Thursday we focused our time on self love and care. Students were introduced to the concept of self love through both a discussion and the completion of a heart activity. For the activity, students were asked to draw a heart and then divide it up based on what they hold in their hearts at that particular moment. 

Students did a great job with this activity and after sharing their hearts with others, we found many similarities throughout the class, enough so that we even created a class heart shown below. On Thursday the class continued our conversations about self love and how it can be practiced and put into use. Students were also introduced to the concept of Ahmisa and we tied this back into our previous discussions regarding empowering beliefs and positive self-talk. This was an excellent way to wrap up the healthy relationships unit. 

Our class designed "heart" 
On Friday we spent a good portion of the class going over the Unit 2 final project. Students discussed and reviewed some of the topics that were selected last week. From there we talked in depth about the project components, requirements, and deadlines as well as answered any questions students had. Students were already coming up with some very interesting and creative ideas for their project so I'm really looking forward to watching them develop next week. 

Overall we had a great week here at WLA and I'm really pleased with the students finishing the unit on such a strong note. We are looking forward to spending time on our projects next week and then enjoying our well deserved spring break! -Ben

Hola a todos!

Fue una semana ocupado e importante aqui en WLA con la huelga alumna y tambien el fin de nuestra tema de relaciones saludables.

En lunes los alumnos revisaron nuestras cartas de perdon y continuamos una platica sobre amor: como definir amor, lo que es, como expresar, y sus importancia en nuestras relaciones y bienestar. Los alumnos han visto algunos videos y platicaban bien sobre amor a si mismo y nuestras lecciones para miercoles y jueves.

El martes fue un dia normal de tutoria donde enfocamos primariamente en cumplir nuestras una hoja donde mantienen un registro de sus calificaciones, trabajando en tarea y aplicaciones de trabajos, y terminamos los encuestas de YESS. Los alumnos fueron mostrado como madar email a sus maestros si tenian preguntas de sus calificaciones o si tienen que mejorarlos y hacer tarea olvidado. Pedimos a los alumnos que tenian calificaciones a C o menos que preguntan a sus maestros como mejorarlos. Mas, estuve conmovido por tantos alumnos que tenian interes en encontrar trabajo. Muchos me mando email con una lista de trabajos en el fin de semana que querian revisar en el proximo martes que a mi fue emocionado. 

En el miercoloes fue una dia ocupada con la huelga contra violencia de armas y nuestras invitadas Dian y Breanne en la clase de 5o tiempo. Para empezar el dia, los alumnos juntaban en Sunken Gardens para un tiempo de silencio y manifestarse contra violencia de armas. La mayoridad asitieron y partiparon en el tiempo de silencio y prestaban attencion a los discursos antes de regresarse a sus clases. La mayoridad de los alumnos no particpaban en el huelga a la capitolio esta dia. En lugar, querian participar en el huelga alla en el 24 de marzo.

Durante de clase en el miercoles y jueves enfoquemos en amarse y cuidarse a si mismo. Los alumnos fueron introducidos a conceptos de amarse entre una platica y cumplir una actividad de corazon. Para la actividad, los alumnos tenian que dibujar un corazon y dividirlo basado en lo que tienen en sus corazones en este momento.

Los alumnos hicieron un buen trabajo con este actividad y despues de compartir sus corazones con lo demas, encontramos muchas similaridades entre la clase, tanto que podemos creer un corazon de clase en el foto. En el jueves la clase continuaron sus platicas sobre amarse y como usarlo en vida real. Los alumnos tambien empezaron de entender Ahmisa y hablamos de platicas del pasado sobre creencias de apoderar y hablarse a si mismo positivamente. Fue una manera excelente de terminar la tema de relaciones saludables.

En el vienrnes tomamos tiempo de hablar sobre el proyecto final de tema 2. Los alumnos platicaban y revisaron algunos de alas temas que han seleccionado la semana pasada. De alli hablamos sobre los componentes, requizitos, y tiempo de entregar tarea antes de vencer. Tambien conteste preguntas que tenian los alumnos. Ellos tenian ideas interesantes y creativos para el proyectos y estoy emocionado de ver su desarollo en la proxima semana.
De todos modos fue una buena semana en WLA y me gusta ver los alumnos terminar con la tema fuertamente. En la proxima semana usaremos tiempo para los proyectos y disfrutar el spring break!-Ben

Monday, March 12, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: March 5th - 9th

Hi everyone!

We had a good week here at West Leadership as we near the end of Unit 2 and are approaching spring break in the next couple of weeks.

As the class nears the end of Unit 2 - Healthy Relationships, I felt it'd be best to check in and see where we were with the new and old material before starting our projects. On Monday the students took a small quiz and we reviewed these topics together once more, this was particularly helpful for the students who were added in the spring semester and needed some additional review prior to selecting their topic for the project.

Tuesday was spent completing our grade trackers, YESS surveys, and working on things like the YESS scholarship, homework, and some job searches. Many older students expressed interest in finding jobs so we decided to make this one of our tutoring work stations and spend time researching nearby jobs, starting resumes, and filling out applications.

Wednesday and Thursday we focused on our lessons over forgiveness. These were emotional lessons and conversations. Over the course of a couple days, students were introduced to what forgiveness looks like, how it is beneficial to one's emotional health, and how they can do their best to practice forgiveness in their lives. Students then wrote forgiveness letters and could choose whether or not to give it to that person they'd like to forgive. Just the act of writing down one's emotions and pain in a letter or journal was very cathartic for many and they seemed to enjoy the process quite a bit.

On Friday we focused again on community building. Students spent time doing various group activities such as making some artwork for the classroom, finishing up on their job applications and resumes, or working on teaching a lesson for the class at the next Community Friday. We were also able to introduce the basics of the unit 2 project to the students and get them thinking about which potential topics they'd like to work on starting next week.

Another great week here at WLA! We are looking forward to finishing our unit next week and starting our projects soon! Stay tuned!

Hola a Todos!

Tuvimos una buena semana aqui en West Leadership cuando casi terminamos el fin de Tema 2 y llegamos a la vaccacion de verano en algunas semanas.  

Estamos casi al fin de Tema 2-Relaciones Saludables, me senti como seria bueno examinar con la material nueva y pasada antes de empezar nuestros proyectos. En el lunes los alumnos tomaron un examen pequña y revisamos las temas otra vez. Fue una ayuda para los alumnos que empezaron en enero y tenian que revisar la material vieja antes de seleccionar tu tema para el proyecto.  

En el martes tuvimos tiempo llenando las formas de marcas, y trabajamos en las cosas como la beca de YESS, tarea, y algunos busquedas de trabajo. Algunos alumnos mas grandes espresaban interes en agarrar trabajo, entonces decidemos usar este tiempo en estudiar y buscar trabajo, empezamos resumes, y llenar aplicaciones.   

En el martes y el jueves, enfoquemos en nuestras leccoines sobre el perdon. Fueron lecciones llena de emociones y platicas diferentes.  Sobre algunos dias, los alumnos fueron introducidos a lo que significa el perdon, como es beneficio a la salud mental, y como pueden practicar el perdon en sus vidas. Los alumnos luego escribieron cartas de perdon y podian escoger si querian dar la carta a la persona que quiere perdonar. Nomas el acto de escribir los emociones de tristeza y dolor en una carta fue catartico para muchos y se me parece como disfrutaron el proceso.  

En el viernes enfoquemos otra vez en constriur nuestra comunidad.  Los alumnos hicieron actividades como hacer arte para la clase, terminar sus aplicaciones y resumes, o trabajar en sus eseñazas para la clase en el proximo viernes. Tambien podiamos introducir los basicos del proyecto de segunda tema a los estudiantes y ayudarles de pensar sobre las temas para usar en sus proyectos.

Otra semana buena aqui en WLA! Estamos ansiosos para empezar la proxima semana y empezar los proyectos pronto! Nos vemos!

Monday, March 5, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: February 26th - March 2nd

Hi all!

We had a busy and productive week over here at WLA! 

Monday was spent matching our new students from the start of the spring semester with their mentees and group members. Students completed the speed matching activity by interviewing every possible mentor and mentee and identifying their top selections. This process went even smoother than the first semester and students really enjoyed asking each other questions and getting to know one another. 

Tuesday we spent the class getting our grade trackers completed as well as completing some surveys regarding social and emotional learning. From there we had students sign up for the Raise Me scholarship which allows them to start collecting money for college as soon as their freshman year. Several middle school students also looked into possible scholarships and programs that were provided to us by YESS' College Navigator, Emily. 

Wednesday and Thursday were lesson days as the class finished their discussions and activities on both accountability and peaceful conflict resolution. We were able to review various scenarios and examples of what accountability looks like as well as discuss how we can become more accountable with others. From there the class spent time on violent versus peaceful conflict resolutions. Students were shown a few videos explaining why people chose violence over peace when handling conflict and then we spent some time going over peaceful resolution strategies and applications. Students were really interested in the conversations regarding gender and conflict and also remembered a lot from our brain unit regarding why our emotions can hijack our reason and logic. 

Friday the class finished up our conversations on conflict resolution and accountability by completing another journal entry for the week and discussing it. From there we spent some time as a community and did our Fishbowl Friday activity which was pretty fun. The questions continue to vary depending on current events and the topics we are learning about at the time. 

Next week we will be moving onto our lessons over forgiveness and self-care. We will also be introducing our Unit 2 stand up project that should be quite a bit of fun to work on in the coming weeks! See you then! -Ben

Monday, February 26, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: February 21st - 23rd

Hi all!

A very short week here at West with classes only taking place Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

On Monday we had President's Day so no school took place. On Tuesday, teachers met to continue our training over contextualized learning for access and equity. 

With the students back on Wednesday we caught up after the long weekend and spent most of our time discussing the tragic events that occurred in Parkland, Florida. In addition to discussing school and classroom safety measures, how to communicate concerns, and where to seek emotional support, students shared their thoughts on the issues of guns and gun policy more broadly. The views and opinions were wide ranging so the conversation was quite interesting and also inspiring. It was great to see some students become very passionate about the issue and ask for/seek out ways to participate and make change. Some have expressed this as a potential topic for their final Stand Up project at the end of the semester so I'm very much looking forward to continuing these conversations and facilitating their activism. 

Thursday the class worked through our first lesson on Accountability. Students were introduced to the differences between accountability, responsibility, excuses, and integrity. They had some great examples and stories to share with each of the terms - specifically for excuses...(that's not too much of a surprise is it?) The main message we focused on was the idea that you choose your own actions. Regardless of what anyone else does to you, you decide how to respond. Next week, we will be completing some more examples of taking accountability versus making excuses and how one can handle conflict in peaceful rather than explosive ways. 

Friday the class finished the week by completing a pretty lengthy journal entry asking for them to be reflective regarding their goals and aspirations as well as provide their perspective regarding their communities and the world around them. Students took their time to type up their journal entries and share them with me via Google Drive. I'd like them to answer the same set of questions at the end of the semester and see any changes that may occur. Additionally on Friday I had all of the high school students sign up for the Raise Me scholarship provided by Emily, our College Navigator. This is a cool program that allows students to start collecting money for college as early as 9th grade so it's important to get started early. We also had students sign up for small group lunches to take place with me during the week with the goal of meeting everyone before spring break which should be pretty fun. 

Overall a short, but busy week here at WLA. Next week we will be back to our normal routine and are looking forward to finishing up our conversations on accountability/conflict resolution, matching our new mentors from the spring semester, and possibly starting our classroom focused social justice projects. Stay tuned... -Ben

Hola a Todos!
Fue una semana corta con clases nomas en miercoles, jueves, y viernes. 

En el lunes pasado tuvimos President’s Day, entonces no hubieron clases. En el martes los maestros tuvimos un capacitacion sobre acceso de aprendizaje y equidad.

Cuando los alumnos regresando en miercoles platicamos sobre el gran fin de semana. Sin embargo, la mayoria de nuestro tiempo hablemos sobre la tragedia que occurio en Parkland, Florida. En adicion de platicar sobre la escuela y medidas de seguridad, como cominicar los preocupaciones, y donde buscar apoyo de emociones, los estudiantes compartieron sus pensamientos sobre armas y la politica de armas. Los opiniones y puntos de vista fueron varios, entonces la platica fue interesante y me inspiraron mucho. Me agradezco a ver alungos alumnos mostrar algun pasion sobre la tema y empezar de involucrase en el clase y fuera. Algunos alumnos quiere usar este tema para su proyecto “Stand Up” al fin del semestre y pues me gusta continar estas platicas y facilitar su activismo.

En el jueves la clases trabajaron sobre nuestra primer leccion sobre la responsabilidad. Los alumnos fue introducido a las diferencias sobre responsabilidad, excusas, y integridad. Ellos se nos compartieron buenos ejemplos e historias con cada palabra (especialmente sobre excusas, no fue ningun sopresa, verdad?). El mensaje que fue el enfoque es el idea que no importa lo que hacen lo demas a Ud, escojen sus acciones. No es importante lo que hacen lo demas, tu decidas como responder. En la proxima semana daremos mas ejemplos de tomar responsabilidad contra hacer excusas y como manejar el conflicto en una manera de paz en lugar de una maner explotivo.

En el viernes la clase terminaron la semana por completar una entrada grande en sus diarios que pedimos por reflexionarse sobre sus metas y ambiciones y tambien proveer sus punto de vista sobre sus comunidades y el mundo sobre ellos. Los alumnos escriben en computadora y los compartieron conmigo en Google Drive. Quiero que hace respuestas a las mismas preguntas al fin de semestre y ver si hay cambios. Tambien en viernes todos los alumnos de High School deberian escribirse para la beca “Raise Me” proveido por Emily, nuestra promotora de Universidad. Es programa padre que ayuda los alumnos coleccionar dinero empezando en el grado 9 porque es importante de empezar temprano. Tambien, los estudiantes inscribieron para lonches de grupos pequeños conmigo durante de la semana con la meta de hablar con todos asi antes de vacacciones de primavera. Seria divertido. 

Fue una semana corto pero ocupado aqui en WLA. En la proxima semana continuamos con nuesta rutina normal y anticipamos una buena platica sobre responsabilidad y resolucion de pleitos, encuartar mentores, y a la mejor empezamos los proyectos de justicia social. Manteganse informados-Ben

Hi, I am Neill Snyder, the family advocate for the YESS program.  What exactly does that mean? It means that I am here to help with all the problems that happens outside of school that may affect your student in school. I can help provide resources for big and small issues such as:

Translation help
Job resources
Student support
Mental Health
Housing issues
And any other issue you may think of

I hope to be visiting your family soon. Part of my job is to visit families in the home for a one on one visit. I have already started visiting families at North and will be soon at West. If you have any questions, please ask by emailing me at or calling me at (303) 558-6686.

Hola a todos, soy Neill Snyder (me llamo Leo si mi nombre es difícil de agarrar), y soy el promotor familiar para la programa YESS. Que significa eso? Significa que aquí estoy para ayudar con los problemas fuera de la escuela que pueda afectar su alumno a dentro de la escuela. Puedo proveer recursos para asuntos como:

Recursos para trabajos
Apoyo a los alumnos
Salud Mental
Asuntos sobre casas y apartamentos (departamentos)
Y muchos asuntos más

Espero que puedo visitar a su familia pronto. Un parte de mi trabajo es visitar familias en la casa para una visita entre Uds. y yo.  Empecé de visitar familias en North y muy pronto en West. Si tiene preguntas, puede pedir por medio de email en o puede llamarme 303.558.6686

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: April 9th - 13th

Hi all!  Last week we had testing take place with both the middle school CMAS and high school PSAT/SAT. That said, we took advantage of the...