About the Social Justice Academy of San Leandro High School

Background Hxstory of SJA: The Social Justice Academy (SJA) started in 2006. At the time of its inception, the educators who created the basic structure imagined a program very different from what it has evolved into today. Unfortunately, their vision was not aligned with the current guiding values and desired outcomes of the program. The initial iteration of the program focused on multiculturalism and basic service learning, lacking the holistic humanization and critical consciousness that the youth and families in the program needed. In 2008, the program began its necessary journey to transform into one that values intersectional education and justicetransformative solidarity, radical healing, and cultivates self and community actualization, moving away from the performative and surface level program that it started as. Although the work of those educators in building the basic structure is appreciated, the long-standing teachers of color who have truly cultivated the rise and success of the program challenge those educators in their continued appropriation of the work and name of the Social Justice Academy

Vision: SJA is designed for students who want to realize their potential as agents of positive and transformative social, emotional, cultural, economic, and political change in themselves, their communities, and the larger local, national, and global contexts they live in. SJA utilizes a rigorous three year process where students learn to interweave critical and decolonial theory and action to reach praxis, whereby SJA scholars leave the program with a stronger sense of self, community, and agency

 SJA's logo is the visual embodiment of the guiding values and desired outcomes of the program. 

SJA Scholar Coursework in SJA: 

SJA Year 1
SJA English 10
SJA World Hxstory
Social Justice 1 (Theory)

SJA Year 2
SJA English 11
SJA US Hxstory
Social Justice 2 (Action)

SJA Year 3
SJA English 12
SJA Government and Economics
Social Justice 3 (Praxis, formerly known as Quest)

Guiding Values and Desired Outcomes of the Social Justice Academy 

SJA educators and scholars build a critical, intersectional consciousness that challenges traditional educational curriculum, standards, and pedagogy. 
Challenge and criticize power, oppression, capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, and xenophobia on the internal, interpersonal, institutional, and ideological levels. 
Reimagine themselves and their communities outside of  the master narrative. 

SJA educators and scholars cultivate a familial structure that values holistic humanization, compassion, community cultural wealth, and critical and radical love and hope. 
Center the communities that have been marginalized.
Understand personal, collective, and generational experiences, trauma, and resilience. 
Cultivate compassion and move towards healing. 
Utilize a restorative justice framework that allows students to thrive, heal, and build resilience. 

SJA educators and scholars learn the importance of solidarity and understand that they must transcend mere symbolic and transactional solidarity and embody intersectional and transformative solidarity, true activism. 
Take action on a local, national, and global scale . 
Learn from resistance movements of the past and present. 
Disrupt systems of power and oppression. 
Develop a sense of agency and accountability. 

SJA uses the following structures to ensure student success:
  • Looping cohorts of students through academy specific English, Social Science, and Social Justice Elective courses for three years.
  • Specially designed curriculum that focuses on critical pedagogy, social justice, ethnic studies, gender studies, intersectionality, peer education, campaign development and activism, social and emotional skill development, college-level research, critical thinking, and public speaking skills.
  • Field trips, guest speakers, project-based learning, internships, fem/mentorship, and events that connect to the curriculum.
SJA English and Social Science Courses: 
The SJA English and Social Science courses are different from traditional English and Social Science courses, they embody the guiding values and desired outcomes outlined above. 

SJA Electives: 
THEORY, Grade 10, 1st year of a 3-year program
10 Credits – Meets UC/CSU subject “G” requirement
Prerequisite: Admission into the SJA Program.
Description: Social Justice 1 (Identity) The 10th-grade year for academy sophomores will focus on providing students with a foundation on identity, common struggles, systems of oppression and social constructions of class, race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, ability, and so forth. The goal of the first year is to build a strong sense and knowledge of self and community and to begin to develop a critical consciousness. 

ACTION, Grade 11, 2nd year of a 3-year program
10 Credits – Meets UC/CSU subject “G” requirement
Prerequisite: Admission into the SJA Program or successful completion of 10th-grade SJA Program. 
Description: Social Justice Activism (Activism and Organizing) Academy students will focus on solidarity and collective action throughout their 11th-grade year. Building on the work from the previous year, students learn the basics of activism and organizing, movement building and campaign development. Over the course of the year, students work as a class to conduct a needs assessment and develop a focus for a year-long campaign they will run in their senior year.

PRAXIS, formerly known as Quest, Grade 12, 3rd year of a 3-year program
10 Credits – Meets UC/CSU subject “G” requirement
Prerequisite: Successful completion of the 11th-grade SJA Program. 
Description: Social Justice Quest (Youth Participatory Action Research) The focus of the 12th-grade year for academy students is self-determination and critical consciousness. Senior year requires students to conduct an independent participatory research-action project on an issue of their choice. Students research, conduct interviews, do field-work and create a mini-campaign throughout the course of the year. The class ends with a public testimony of their work. In addition to this, they run a campaign as a class, which might be local, national, or even global in its scope. QUEST is an advanced Youth Participatory Action Research capstone project designed and completed by all SJA seniors.

Erica Viray Santos (Coordinator and Teacher): Viray Santos has been an educator since 2005 and started teaching in the Social Justice Academy in 2008. She currently teaches the following SJA courses: US Hxstory, Government, Economics, Social Justice 1, Social Justice 2, and Social Justice 3. Viray Santos has a background in community organizing and Ethnic Studies. 

Joya Brandon (Teacher): Brandon started teaching in the Social Justice Academy in 2018. She teaches all of SJA English Language Arts Courses (English 10, 11, and 12) . She has taught at San Lorenzo High School, Bancroft Middle School, and Roots International Academy.She is also a founding fellow member of the Black Teacher Project, a design catalyst with The Teacher’s Guild, and a teaching consultant with the Bay Area Writing Project.

Jeffrey Ramirez (Teacher): Ramirez has been a teacher in the Social Justice Academy since 2016. He currently teaches the SJA World Hxstory course. He has been teaching in San Leandro Unified for well over a decade. He has taught at Bancroft Middle School and Lincoln Alternative Education Center.

Viray Santos with SJA's biggest allies & advocates on campus, SLHS principals, Dr. Ronnie & Reggie Richardson.