It is with great honor, humility and excitement that I introduce myself, Soo Jin Kim, as the new Head of School at ARISE High School.
For the past twelve years, I have dedicated myself to social justice, equitable education and education reform having taught every subject at the secondary level (9-12) in English, Math, Science and History and held various leadership positions at top-performing charter schools in California and New York.
I've had the privilege to see thousands of students graduate from high school and hundreds graduate from college. As a leader, I've developed systematic approaches to solving complete problems in student attrition, school culture, data and performance metrics while creating a school environment that serves and celebrates the whole child.
When you enter ARISE you can immediately tell that you’ve found a special place. On your way up the stairs a student may have made eye contact and said hello, they might have asked if you needed help, or they may have just held the door open for you as you entered. You wonder how a school can exist in such a unique space, how it’s possible that a school is in a major transit hub. You’re greeted by the latest student art, a mural painted 5 years earlier by a postsession class and banners that display the Authenticity, Rigor, Inspiration, Success, and Empowerment at the core of our name.
We believe education does not start or end in the classroom. True learning occurs at all times, when you succeed, when you fail, when you make mistakes, and when you accomplish your goals. We believe that as a school we are teaching all the time. Every hallway interaction, smile, check-in, home visit, and family meeting communicates who we are, what we value, and why we are here.
ARISE is a special place. We’ve carved out a small piece of East Oakland and made it our home. We’ve offered to this community a sanctuary where we attempt to disrupt toxic schooling practices, the trauma of poverty, and institutionalized oppression. By examining our living conditions, growing our skills in reading, writing, numeracy, and critical thinking, and applying what we’ve learned to our personal and community transformation we as a community can and will ARISE.
ARISE High School is distinct in its core features: it provides a Relevant and Rigorous Curriculum within a Collaborative School Culture.
The social-curriculum at ARISE is centered on our Core Values: Respect, Persevere, Build, and Lead. We recognize that teachers teach more than just content, they teach who they are. With this in mind we understand that intentional preparation and culture production in our classrooms leads to increased community satisfaction, buy-in, and academic achievement.
However, acknowledging the existence of this curriculum and the preparation needed to create healthy, loving, rigorous, and challenging classrooms and schools are two vastly different things. As such, over the years ARISE has been evolving its philosophy, systems, and structures to more clearly communicate what it means to Respect, Persevere, Build, and Lead. Grounded in the work of Keinfeld (1975), Ware (2006), Hollie (2011), Inlay (2010), and Claassen (2008), we’ve developed a multilayered system that explicitly recognizes our work as educators and culture producers.
There are three major components necessary for our Restorative Praxis program to be successful. These include approaching our teaching in the following ways:
ARISE’s vision to improve our own material and social conditions is the foundation for a Restorative Praxis (RP) program that trains our community to develop the agency and power to bring about change.
I look forward to meeting you in person.
Soo Jin Kim
Head of School