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A Carson School Responds With A “Community Of Care” CARE”

Katrina George (Mentor) reviews personal goals with Brooke Johnson (6th-grade student mentee) as part of the Seeds of Success program.

College counselor giving advice to graduating seniors.

Carson, CA – In a school serving more than 80% of students on the federal free and reduced lunch program, many of them experiencing housing insecurity, the key word to student academic success is “care.” Magnolia Science Academy in Carson (MSA-3)  located at 1254 E Helmick St, Carson, CA 90746, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)-based public charter school serving nearly 400 students (60% Latino and 40% African American students) in grades 6-12, ensures its students find a safe, culturally-sensitive environment on campus through a community of care.

Administrators check in with students daily, offering a nurturing setting filled with positive affirmations that keep them on the path to graduation. According to the school, the approach is working, reflecting increases in Math and English Language Arts scores , as well as high graduation (95.5%) and college-acceptance rates.

Graduating seniors and their college counselor in front of the inspirational affirmations that can be found throughout the school.  

All students will participate in a STEAM Expo on Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center Promenade Ballroom & Concourse (300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802) where they will participate in STEAM demonstrations and compete in a robotics contest.

MSA-3 officials say the school experienced a 10% COVID-related drop in student enrollment in the first two years of the pandemic. African American families in particular, began leaving L.A. County expressing it had become too expensive for them to raise a family.

Student attendance was also affected, as there were fears about the spread of the virus among vulnerable communities, with many parents living outside of the Carson area choosing to keep their children closer to home.

MSA-3 Seniors reflecting on their favorite affirmation.

Consequently, staff began to notice the pandemic’s impact on student mental health and related absenteeism. “The challenges we face require us to be positive, and to continuously ask ourselves what we’re doing to improve the lives of our students,” said Zekeriya Ocel, principal at MSA-3. “We’ve seen changes in student behavior following the pandemic. Primarily an inability for students to interact.  It’s hard for students to detach from their cell phones.

For this reason, we strive to keep communication channels open, offer quick responses, and have engaged and supportive staff. Small class sizes help us better connect with students so that they’re not lost in a crowd and receive individualized support.

Our goal is for students to enjoy their time with us and leave happy, knowing we care about them,” he added. In spite of these challenges, during the pandemic MSA-3 continued to show significant improvement, particularly in its math scores.

Ms. Allen (Counselor) with Malik Rivers (7th grader), explaining the art he created as part of the mindfulness program.

This was due to the math department’s coherent and collaborative approach, which was guided by student data.

The school also offered learning opportunities such as Saturday school consisting of morning intervention classes and homework assistance, and afternoon field trips to museums and other civic institutions. This helped make learning engaging, meaningful and fun. Yearly competitions such as Math Matters also spark student interest and invite the participation of kids from the surrounding Carson and Compton areas.

In addition to providing students with helpful academic tools and support, the school has taken extra steps to take care of student mental health by placing more of a focus on the social emotional welfare of students, hiring a full-time on-site social worker and establishing a partnership with the Southern California Crossroads , a mental health provider.

With added attention in the removal of learning barriers, students are ready for new learning opportunities. MSA-3 now offers students new advanced placement and college courses. MSA-3 is offering English 101 and Cinema 107 during Spring 2023 and will offer ART 201.

The school will expand its college class offering to US History, World History and Spanish.


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