Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Philly is an accelerated high school for students between the ages of 16-21.

“We’re a small school that works through the School District of Philadelphia Opportunity Network,” said principal David Rivoire. “We get a variety of students at the school.

“We have some students who were disenfranchised at their previous school, while other students may have been struggling with just being a student and being in school,” he added. “If they’re 16 or older and are behind in school credits, they can enroll in the school.”

Located at 2709 N. Broad St. in North Philadelphia YESPhilly offers its 115 students classes in all of the subjects required for a high school diploma by the School District of Philadelphia.

Classes are project-based and use the Summit Learning Platform, a blended instructional model that focuses on student collaborative projects and core content knowledge.

Media arts and technology skills are infused throughout the school with several levels of media and technology classes.

“In math, we offer Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry,” Rivoire said. “We have English courses one through four and science classes. We go through a nine to ten week term.

“Each term a student can earn up to half a credit in each of those classes,” he said. “In about 20 weeks, a student could earn full credit in those classes and can take up to five classes per term.

“In addition to those classes, we offer a health class,” he added. “Our PE class right now is doing yoga and practicing mindfulness. We also have an art class.”

At YESPhilly, students earn high school diplomas, enroll in college, and prepare for work and careers.

Every student sets their own goals, and creates a student development plan that gives them control over what they do, and responsibility for their own progress.

They also go on college tours, learn how to apply to college and how to get financial aid and complete the Pennsylvania Career Ready skills in Naviance.

“We have a partnership with Thriving Mindset, which is a college and career organization, but also works a lot with social emotional learning,” Rivoire said. “We have someone from Thriving Mindset who comes here every Wednesday for the full day.

“He also teaches an elective in the afternoon,” he added. “Right now students are doing career research so that they know what they want to do once they graduate. We also take students out and give them some shadowing experiences.”

The counselors at YESPhilly make sure every student receives social and emotional support. They work with each student individually, in groups and with their families to address barriers that interfere with their wellbeing and success.

“We have a very strong counseling group for such a small number of students,” Rivoire said. “We’re really focused on trauma. My main training for professional development has been trauma informed practices.

“YESPhilly has a culture of complete restorative practices,” he added. “We look at what behaviors created and not focus on the blame, but more on what we can do differently. Our dean of students Shanta Richardson does a great job on restorative practices.”

Through local partnerships, YESPhilly provides academic and emotional support and educational opportunities to their students and families.

Some of the school’s partnerships include JKG Florida Business Corporation, Patricia Kind Foundation, Barra Foundation, United Way of Greater Philadelphia, Lenfest Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, William Penn Foundation and the Philadelphia Foundation.

“Temple University provides a music class,” Rivoire said. “It’s not going on right now, but we’re hoping to have it again in the spring. Mass Mutual provides financial literacy for our students.

“JEVS is a partnership we have for our pregnant and parenting students,” he added. “We also have Community Legal Services, which helps us out with any students or families that might have some questions about some legal issues.”

Rivoire said that he wants students to leave YESPhilly as lifelong learners.

“I ultimately want them to leave us being lifelong learners,” Rivoire said. “I’m hoping that we not only provide them with the basic skills they need for school, but that they leave here with a curiosity and an understanding that they are able and capable to basically do what they want to do.

“I want them to be able to self advocate for themselves and really go out there in the world and find out what their dreams are.”

chill@phillytrib.com. 215-893-5716

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