Media receives ‘Lighthouse’ academy honor

A lighthouse will guide a ship to safety on a stormy or foggy night, and according to the Career Academy Support Network, Media Academy is “one of the best” and a lighthouse for other academies that may need direction.

“Lighthouse” is the now the title given to Media Academy by the California Department of Education – and that title is not to be confused with some charter schools that use the name, such as the one on Hegenberger Road.

Media Academy joins five other academies out of the 500 career in California as a “Lighthouse.”

The school will now be the beacon for other academies. For example, visitors from other schools will come to Media in November to see how the school integrates media into its curriculum, explained Michael Jackson, director of the Media Academy. 

It is the second state honor Media Academy has earned in the past two years. Media Academy was also named a “mentor academy” in 2008 and since then has helped new academies get started.

For example, Media Academy helped a new environmental academy at San Lorenzo High, showing them strategies that had been proven to work with students. So far, Media has mentored nine schools for one academic year each.

Susan Tidyman, the state and regional coordinator for the California Academy Support Network at the University of California, Berkeley, visited Media Academy earlier this month and spoke to the Green & Gold about the advantages of the mentor system.

“The real benefit of being a mentor is that when we help someone, and they receive the help that they need, it makes us feel really good about the work we do,” said Tidyman.

Jackson said that the mentor system also helps the state support more academies than it could do without the system.

Jackson said that Media Academy’s excellence has helped it become one of the top five academies in the state for other programs to look to for guidance.

Jackson attributes Media’s excellence to the school’s staff and their willingness to help others. Jackson also said years of experience facing challenges and a strong team of diverse teachers are main qualities that make Media Academy a distinguished academy.

 However, Jackson has felt that Media teachers’ goals have diversified in the last five years, mainly because of pressure from the state and federal government to improve standardized test scores.

“Instead of working on media, they feel pressure to concentrate on remediation and not seeing the connection between career and academics,” Jackson said.

Jackson hopes the title of “Lighthouse” will encourage students and teachers to do their best since many educators from other schools will observe how teachers incorporate media into their classes.

Jackson says he hopes the title will make teenagers see Media Academy in a different light and reconsider enrolling in the school or in other schools on the campus.

“Fremont Federation is the safest place in the Fruitvale. It has three schools dedicated to teachers who bring out the best in their students,” he said.

Jackson is optimistic about Media Academy’s future, and hopes the school will continue to win more awards and recognition.

 “Fremont [Federation] birthed the small schools movement in Oakland. The Media Academy is the father of that birth, a child of which Oakland should be proud.”