About SJA

The Social Justice Academy was founded in 2006.  Since its establishment,this program has challenged young people to tell their story and address the issues that they, their communities, and their ancestors faced and continue to face.  The hope is that through this rigorous three year process, they realize their potential as agents of transformation in society.  The mission of the Social Justice Academy is to empower students to make positive changes in their communities and to develop leaders and lifelong learners.  Our pedagogy focuses on empowering students through authentic connections between the issues their communities face and the curriculum at school, honoring youth voice, and providing students with the skills and foundational knowledge to address those issues.  

SoJAstory, Social Justice Academy History 2006-2014


Core Beliefs of SJA

SJA Student Outcomes

Program Design

SJA uses the following structures to ensure student success:
  • Looping cohorts of students through English, Social Science, and elective courses for three years.
  • Specially designed, A-G approved electives that focus on social justice, ethnic studies, gender studies, peer education, campaign development and activism, social and emotional skill development, college, research, and critical thinking.
  • Field trips, guest speakers, project based learning, and events that connect to curriculum.
  • Honors level option in English and Social Science classes. 
Erica Viray Santos: Viray Santos has been an educator since 2005 and started teaching in the academy in 2008.  She currently teaches US Hxstory, Government, Economics, Social Justice 1,  Social Justice 2 (Activism), and Social Justice 3 (Quest) in the academy.  Viray Santos has a background in community organizing and ethnic studies.      
Erica Viray Santos with her partner Ivan and two little ones: Amado and Crispy. 

Joya Brandon: Brandon teaches all of the Social Justice 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 part of the Bay Area Writing Project. 

Jeffrey Ramirez: Ramirez teaches Social Justice World Hxstory. 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. 

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

Curriculum (all elective courses are A-G approved):
Social Justice 1 (Identity): This elective class focuses on providing students with a foundation on identity, common struggles, systems of oppression and social constructions of race, class and gender. The goal of the first year elective class is to build a strong sense and knowledge of self and community and to begin to develop a critical consciousness. 

Social Justice 2 (Activism and Organizing): The focus of the second year elective class is solidarity and collective action.  Building on the work from the previous elective, 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.

Social Justice 3 (QUEST): The focus of the last year's elective class is self determination and critical consciousness.  The senior year elective requires students to conduct an independent 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.