American Graduate Champion: Tiffany Woody

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

tiffany-woodyToday’s Champion is Tiffany Woody.  Woody works with at risk students from Lanier High School through the Council on At-Risk Youth. The majority of the students that she works with are at-risk youth and have had one or multiple disciplinary referrals. Woody does group counseling, one on one counseling, visits families and stays engaged with the students and teachers. She finds ways to teach these students how to overcome some very difficult struggles and also to get out of a cycle of just being labeled as a “bad” student. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Tiffany Woody truly demonstrates to her students that her door is always open and that she is there for them. Tiffany is a reminder that it doesn’t take much to just listen and help youth how to overcome barriers in life that at times seem so large. Its the simple small acts of kindness that mean the world to her students and this is why she is a champion.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

In the Studio: Barney Frank tapes Overheard 4/8

Overheard taping announcement

Please join KLRU’s Overheard with Evan Smith for an interview with former Congressman Barney Frank on April 8 at 5:15pm in KLRU’s Studio 6A (map). Doors open at 4:45pm.  The event is free but an RSVP is required. RSVP NOW

Copyright: Michael Halsband

Copyright: Michael Halsband

Former Congressman Barney Frank represented the Fourth District of Massachusetts for more than three decades. Frank is known as one of the most prominent gay politicians in American history and was the first sitting member of Congress to enter a same-sex marriage. In 2010 he co-authored Dodd-Frank, the most far-reaching Wall Street reform bill since the Great Depression. His memoir Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriagewas recently published. Congressman Frank is in Austin to speak and sign copies at BookPeople immediately following our taping.

We hope you’ll be there as Overheard with Evan Smith begins a fifth season of interviews featuring engaging conversations with fascinating people. The show airs on PBS stations nationally and presents a wide range of thoughtmakers and tastemakers from the fields of politics, journalism, business, arts, sports and more. Please join us and be part of the studio audience at this taping with Barney Frank. And don’t forget you can watch past episodes anytime at klru.org/overheard.

American Graduate Champion: Dorothy Salas

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 1.48.40 PMToday’s Champion is Dorothy Salas. When Salas began at Anderson High School, the school’s drop-out rate was close to 5%. As the Dropout Prevention Specialist, she has helped lower that number to .3% last year. She works with students, parents and businesses to help provide the resources students need to stay in school. She runs a Saturday program for parents and students to illustrate the importance of attendance in school and the positive outcomes for those students who complete their high school education. These sessions are always well attended and parents often site her help as the thing which helped them guide their child back to school. This year she has also worked with Anderson High’s new refugee population to identify community agencies which can support families new to our neighborhood and new to the country. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Dorothy is caring and honest. Students appreciate her genuine answers because they know that she does not try to “sugar coat” issues which impact their success. She tells it “like it is” and helps students to make good decisions about continuing their education. Dorothy is a very special person – Anderson High School is a better place because of her and our students are definitely in a better place because of her tenacity and drive for their best interest!”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Sarah Simmons

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

sarah-simmonsToday’s Champion is Sarah Simmons. Simmons is the College & Career Advisor at Akins High School. Akins school has about 2700 students – mostly low-socioeconomic with many being the first in their family to have an opportunity to attend college. Simmons works to not only show students the path, but also secure financial aide and scholarships. Over the last few years, the school has gone from having its senior class secure a few thousand dollars in financial aide, to millions. It is her goal each year to make sure every senior leaves with a secure post-secondary plan. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Sarah truly shows our students that education is the great equalizer, and that it’s a possibility for all.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

American Graduate Champion: Linda Medina-Lopez

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

linda-medina-lopezToday’s Champion is Linda Medina-Lopez.  Medina-Lopez currently serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator in the Department of Communications and Community Engagement at Austin ISD and is on the SXSWedu Advisory Board and the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy Campus Advisory Council. In her role at AISD, she serves as a liaison to key constituents, district bodies and community groups and assists in ongoing relationship management with parents and community members and key stakeholders to better serve our schools. She is also the founder of the Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin (YHPAA), an organization that provides leadership and professional development opportunities for young Latino professionals to empower and connect with the Greater Austin community. YHPAA supports and encourages higher education through college scholarships and mentorship programs while providing resources to members for professional, community, and personal development. Since 2007 YHPAA has awarded 2,000 scholarships to Austin area students. A proud El Pasoan, Linda also co-founded the El Paso Social Network of Austin in 2007 which established a fund with the Austin Community Foundation to provide scholarships for students from El Paso studying in the Austin area. The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “Linda continues to motivate and inspires others to strengthen our education pipeline and mentor our next generation of leaders!”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

KLRU News Briefs: The fight over decriminalizing truancy in Texas

“Texas prosecutes more than twice the number of truancy cases prosecuted in all other states combined.” That’s according to Texas Appleseed, a legal advocacy group which released a report this month entitled Class, Not Court,  outlining why they support decriminalizing truancy in Texas. This weekend and part of next weekend, we look at the different sides of this issue, and try to find out why these students are missing school.

The law currently states that when a child has unexcused absences for 3 days or parts of days within a four-week period, the school can refer the child to court for truancy. If the child racks up unexcused absences for 10 days or parts of days within 6 months, the school “must file a complaint in juvenile or adult criminal court regardless of any ongoing intervention,” according to Texas Appleseed. Truancy is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

State Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) has filed yet another bill this session to decriminalize truancy. Whitmire’s Senate Bill 106 would make truancy a civil, rather than criminal, offense and would set up early intervention programs to work with the child before they get to court. He authored a similar bill last session. It passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Perry. SB106 is scheduled for public hearing this Tuesday, March 31.

“To criminalize [truancy] I think is nuts,” Senator Whitmire said. “I don’t think it helps the family, it certainly profiles the family [and] the student, and I think there’s a better way. We need to get involved in the root cause of the truancy.”

“In most cases truancy is a problem that can be best addressed in the school setting with school officials and the family working together to resolve the underlying issues, bringing in or referring a student to non-profit organizations or other groups when appropriate, but court referral can be, or should be, a very last resort,” Mary Mergler, Director of Appleseed’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Project said.

Many of the people we spoke to mentioned that some districts use an automated system to track absences. We spoke to Lydia De La Garza, Truancy Specialist at Manor ISD. She told us that isn’t the case in Manor.

“At one point when I first moved to Manor, truancy filings were up to 300-400 a year. And so since I came, we cut it in half. Altogether it’s because of my position and providing those interventions and making sure we’re filing on the correct students. It was a computer generated system and it was probably like how other school districts in other areas are probably doing right now,” De La Garza said.

For her, filing for truancy is always the last resort, but sometimes a necessary one.

“So finally when I get to court, then it’s like ‘okay all of these efforts have been done. I need you to help me either make them understand that school is important and that they need to follow through with certain programs.’ Because sometimes they won’t follow through with a certain program of getting involved. Yes, me administering the programs to them is one thing. But then them actually enrolling it, I need more support of a judge to say ‘no, you need to come to these parent workshops.’ And also, working with the student to get enrolled. So we have to investigate that,” De La Garza said.

Manor’s cases end up in the Travis County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 courtroom in front of Judge Yvonne Williams. Judge Williams sees some of the most economically disadvantaged kids in our region and on two Wednesdays per month her courtroom handles truancy cases.

“We know the big picture is we want you to be good citizens. It’s been shown if you don’t graduate you’re less likely to be employed. So, we know that’s a good goal. Now, how do we make that happen? And that’s what I grapple with in my courtroom on a regular basis,” Judge Williams said. “What I’m trying to do is get behind those issues. I am in favor of decriminalizing.  Do I have an answer to what does that mean in terms of how to enforce? Not yet, but I think good people and good minds are working on it, and one of the things we have to do is make school someplace where children want to go, number 1.  We have to recognize the reason people don’t go to school is lots of reasons. There could be issues at home, issues with the child.”

Some of those issues are highlighted in Texas Appleseed’s report: 1 out of every 8 truancy filings is a student with special education needs.

“Many times what we see is students who have never been identified in the school system as having a disability, even though they have a long standing diagnosis, even though schools are informally aware of their disability, they’re not actually labelled as special education,” Meredith Shytles Parekh, an attorney with Disability Right Texas said. “What we’re seeing is courts getting these cases where the students have the disability, but the school isn’t providing any resources, and the courts are saying, ‘My hands are tied, all I can do is enter a plea for you, find you guilty or no contest,’ or whatever the student is pleading, and assess fines or community service or some other penalty, but it’s nothing that’s going to address the underlying root of what is causing the student’s absences.”

Judge Williams does explain all of the plea offerings to every person in her courtroom, in English and in Spanish through a translator. For special needs cases she says she can usually tell and is careful not to embarrass the student in front of everyone else in the courtroom.

“If it looks like a child has special needs, then I’m going to assign them to my juvenile case manager’s caseload. That person is then going to say ‘Maybe we need to put you with some housing specialists,’ or if the child is pregnant, “Maybe we should send you to any number of the teen pregnancy programs,’ or if it’s just a matter of ‘I’m not learning the way others learn, and I’m embarrassed so no, I don’t go to school, I show up and walk the halls,’ then we need to find what it means to put that person with tutoring, and maybe some other programs that deal with self-esteem,” Judge Williams said.

 Another concern when it comes to criminalized truancy is the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. We’ll take a look at that side of the issue next weekend during PBS NewsHour.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour weekend, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 6:30. This story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. Lydia De La Garza is a member of our American Graduate Advisory Group.

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

April 2015 Family Choice

KLRU chooses three to four programs each month for your family to enjoy and view together. In April 2015, we have the following lined up:

Wednesday, April 1 at 7:00 pm: NOVA “Alien Planets Revealed”
Combining animation with input from expert astrophysicists and astrobiologists, “Alien Planets Revealed” takes viewers on a journey along with the Kepler telescope. How does the telescope look for planets? How many of these planets are like our Earth? Will any of these planets be suitable for life as we know it?

Wednesday, April 15 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “Animal Homes: Location, Location, Location”
Finding a good base of operations is key to successfully raising a family. One must find the right stream or tree, the right building materials, neighbors and sometimes tenants. In the wild, every home is a unique DIY project, every head of household a designer and engineer.

Wednesday, April 22 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “Animal Houses: Animal Cities”
For some animals, living in the midst of huge colonies of their own kind is the most secure and rewarding housing arrangement. Icelandic puffins form nesting colonies of more than a million, providing shared information about food sources and reducing the odds of attacks on individual birds. But colonies are useful for predators, too.

Wednesday, April 22 at 8:00 pm: NOVA “Invisible Universe Revealed”
Twenty-five years ago, NASA launched one of the most ambitious experiments in the history of astronomy: the Hubble Space Telescope. In honor of Hubble’s landmark anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable story of the telescope that forever changed our understanding of the cosmos and our place in it.

American Graduate Champion: China Smith

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

china-smithToday’s Champion is China Smith.  As a mother, teacher, and dancer, China Smith is on a quest to spread awareness about the mixed nature and diversity of the African diaspora through contemporary dance. Her company, Ballet Afrique, employs a synthesis of ballet and modern blended with Afrocentric undertones to articulate the human condition and spirit through the unbounded art form of dance. She empowers and encourages High School teens in her classes to gain a college education while also being true to their dance career.  The recognition letter submitted by the community said: “She cares very much about young African Americans and envisions a bright future for them whether it be dance or their own passions.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

 

Q Night at the Movies March 28

KLRU Q - Night at the Movies

Variety Studio – Actors On Actors at 6:30 pm
The actors responsible for the most exciting performances of the year talk about their work-and more. Featuring Reese Witherspoon “Wild” and Michael Keaton “Birdman”, Keira Knightley “The Imitation Game” and Ethan Hawke “Boyhood”, David Oyelowo “Selma” and Jack O’Connell “Unbroken”, Jenny Slate “Obvious Child” and Felicity Jones “The Theory of Everything”.

On Story at 7:30 pm
The writers of re-imagined classics and popular franchises such as GHOST, CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, TWINS and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN deliberate how to keep stories fresh while remaining faithful to the original version. Accompanied by Spencer and Lloyd Harvey’s short film JACK & JILL, a fresh take on the classic nursery rhyme.

Feature Film: Mutiny on the Bounty at 8 pm
First mate Mr. Christian (Clark Gable) and his 18th-century shipmates overthrow cruel Capt. Bligh (Charles Laughton) and set him adrift in the Pacific.

Ain’t It Cool with Harry Knowles at 10:15 pm
Revered Writer/Director Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire/127 Hours/Trainspotting and Harry discuss auteurs. The theory that some filmmakers have so much personal influence and artistic control over a movie that they become regarded as the author of the movie is also explored as Harry chats with “Boiler” about the late William Wyler’s films.

Film School Shorts at 10:45 pm
The Genius From Quintino (Columbia) and Kiss Me (UCLA): Ricardo, a mechanic nicknamed ‘the genius’, lives in Quintino, just north of Rio de Janeiro. When a mysterious young boy shows up at his garage with a broken toy, Ricardo is suddenly faced with his forgotten past. Written and directed by Johnny Ma. Boxer Kid Vargas is forced to face up to a devastating truth after he kills his opponent, Johnny Vasquez, in the ring. Consumed by the guilt of killing, Kid’s shame is intensified by his repressed homosexuality. Written and directed by Jules Nurrish.

Highlights March 29 to April 4

KLRU Highlights

A new season of Call the Midwife starts this week! Nurse Barbara Gilbert arrives at Nonnatus and, after a disastrous start, earns the respect of her colleagues by helping a new mother overcome difficulties on Call the Midwife at 7 pm Sunday.

The third season of the popular series, which stars Jeremy Piven as the flamboyant American entrepreneur who founded the famous Selfridge’s department store, picks up the story in 1919 on Masterpiece Theater at 8 pm Sunday.

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, a three-part film, tells the comprehensive story of cancer, from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the gleaming laboratories of modern research institutions. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 pm.

Mosaic: The Deep Eddy Mural at 10:30 pm Monday takes us on a journey from inception through dedication and all the effort and love it took to make it happen in between.

Witness groundbreaking fetal surgery in this miniseries that takes an intimate, inside look at the Special Delivery Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where rare surgeries are performed on babies inside the womb part 1 of Twice Born air at 7 pm Tuesday

Alex Gibney, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, discusses his new film Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief on Overheard with Evan Smith at 7pm Thursday.

Arts In Context at 7:30 pm Thursday profiles Blue Lapis Light, a group that transforms urban environments into works of art specializing in large-scale productions in non-traditional public environments.

RX: The Quiet Revolution at 8 pm Thursday takes cameras across America to focus on the challenges and triumphs in our country’s health care delivery system.

Tony and Grammy Award-winner Billy Porter, star of the Broadway hit Kinky Boots, performs songs from his latest album, Billy’s Back on Broadway, and other favorites on Live from Lincoln Center at 8 pm Friday.

Great Performances at 9 pm Friday presents Annie Lennox performing songs from her album Nostalgia.

Get the secret to growing finicky lavender, plus tips on indoor aromatherapy on Central Texas Gardener at noon Saturday. On tour, a drought defiant garden turned blank land into sensational outdoor living.

Singer/songwriters Ed Sheeran and Valerie June perform on Austin City Limits at 7 pm Saturday. Sheeran lights up hits “Sing!” and “A-Team,” while June burns through material from her acclaimed LP Pushin’ Against a Stone.