Sharing the Magic

“I’ll never forget the man at the camp who spoke to us about the magic.”

Alepho Deng, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, shared his story and the lessons he learned from surviving the horrors of war as a child in Sudan with students at Palisades Charter High School  last Friday.

The ‘magic’ he spoke about was an education.

Photo by Rich Schmitt

Alepho was seven years old when he was forced to join tens of  thousands of other fleeing boys whose villages were attacked by government militias. The children escaped in the dead of night with no food, water, shoes or parents, travelling by foot more than a thousand miles across three countries.  After five years of walking, Alepho made it to a refugee camp in Kenya where he stayed for another nine years. He was one of 3,800 Lost Boys resettled to the United States in 2001. He and his brother and cousin chronicled their ordeal in the poignant account, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys of Sudan.    Continue reading

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Making Progress with our Incarcerated Students

The L.A. County Office of Education- whose board I serve on- oversees the schools at the juvenile probation camps. Each time I visit one I am struck by a devastating contrast:  students just like these – from the same challenging neighborhoods- are thriving in high-performing charter schools in their home communities. The charter school kids got a break and are learning what it means to be on the path to success.  Statistics tell us that the incarcerated kids, on the other hand, will churn through the revolving door of the juvenile justice system and on into adult incarceration.  Not a path to success.

My visit last week to the Christa McAuliffe School at Challenger Memorial Youth Center in Lancaster, however, was unexpectedly inspiring. Continue reading