Stories from the Field

Lessons Learned: Grantee Susan Anglada Bartley challenges students to enroll in AP courses— and succeed

Lessons Learned: Grantee Susan Anglada Bartley challenges students to enroll in AP courses— and succeed

Tell us about your plans for your NEA Foundation grant project.

We have used our NEA Foundation grant to support our nationally recognized Advanced Scholar Program (ASP). The ASP students take four or more Advanced Placement (AP) courses throughout high school. They are given a mentor, who is currently a teacher at the school. Our ASP student leadership class has helped to shift the culture of the school toward a culture of smartness, and an ASP student mentorship program enables students to mentor younger students who struggle. We have used grant money to pay for supplies for mentor meetings and for iPads to help struggling kids check their grades, study, do homework, and look up information with the help of older peers.

(Read more about Bartley’s project in the Willamette Week.)

How do you think your NEA Foundation grant project will help your students?

We have had major success! We dramatically increased the number of students of color and students living in poverty in AP courses. We have also created stronger relationships among previously disparate groups in the school and between teachers and students.

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Why did you start teaching?

I heard the calling to teach when I realized what a powerful influence my own teachers had on my life. I faced struggles in high school, both personal and academic, but my English teacher helped me see that I was exceptional in that one particular area. My teachers stood by me, helping me to cross the bridge to college. For me, becoming a teacher was a natural progression. I love it!

What is your passion— in or outside the classroom?

Teaching is clearly my passion. In particular, I love teaching untracked AP English and helping kids to write college essays. I love being part of the movement to show that all kids can achieve at high levels and make it to college if they have the right support and are properly challenged.

Outside of the classroom, I am passionate about activism. I am working with other teachers and community members to fund a scholarship that we created for undocumented students. I believe that we still have a great deal of work to do to reach a place of equity in public education. Being part of the movement to get to that place is my passion in life.

Describe an “a-ha” moment, when you or your students (or both) have experienced a transformation in your thinking or learning.

An “a-ha” moment for me and for my ASP students was when one of the undocumented students wrote in her scholarship application essay that when she arrived in the United States, a car hit her, breaking both of her knees. The car left her on the street, not stopping to help her at all. Her family had trouble communicating with doctors, and she struggled immensely. When we read this (in a blind admission process where her identity was protected), I think several of us shed a tear. Her story of struggle and finally reaching the goal of walking and having faith in her ability to reach college despite discrimination was enlightening and inspiring for the whole class. The student gave me permission to share this story so that others may understand a little bit more about the reality of being an undocumented student.

Featured NEA Foundation grantee Susan Anglada Bartley teaches language arts at Franklin High School in Portland, OR. Find more information about how to apply for grant funding and how to support this grant program. The next deadline for application is June 1, 2014.