Tag Archives: Gardena High School

NFL Player R.J. Stanford Tells Gardena High Teens to Never Quit

This post was originally published on the Daily Breeze and written by Brian Charles. Read the article here.

Miami Dolphins Cornerback, R.J. Stanford addresses ITEP students from Gardena High School's Global Leadership Academy (GGLA). (Photo credit: UPS)

Miami Dolphins Cornerback, R.J. Stanford addresses ITEP students from Gardena High School’s Global Leadership Academy (GGLA). (Photo credit: UPS)

Miami Dolphins cornerback R.J. Stanford doesn’t believe in quitting, though he had plenty of chances to in his life.

“No white flags,” he said to a crowd of teenagers at Gardena High School on Wednesday. “Don’t surrender.”

Not the fastest or the biggest, the 25-year-old from Chino didn’t make it to the NFL just because of the number of eye-popping big plays he made during his time at the University of Utah.

No, it was old fashioned perseverance that carried the one-time D student through college and to professional football.

“Failure doesn’t exist when you don’t quit,” Stanford said to the more than 500 at-risk students from the Gardena Global Leadership Academy at Gardena High School.

The academy prepares students for careers in international trade. Many who attend the school come from low-income families and are considered at-risk teens. Each month, speakers from the world of business, politics and entertainment lecture the students on how to push through to success.

GGLA teacher, Ms. Lakisha Clark accepts a signed Miami Dolphins football from R.J. Stanford. (Photo credit: UPS)

GGLA teacher, Ms. Lakisha Clark accepts a signed Miami Dolphins football from R.J. Stanford. (Photo credit: UPS)

Stanford’s “never-quit” mantra was born out of struggle, and in some cases self-imposed obstacles that tripped him up on the way to the NFL.

A natural athlete, Stanford wasn’t nearly as committed to his studies. “I wasn’t dumb, but I was a little lazy,” he told the students.

Early on at Chino High School, Stanford scored poor marks on his report card, began running with the wrong crowd and partied a little too hard. “I was that kid sleeping in the back of the classroom,” he said.

Colleges that initially showed some interest in Stanford began to have second thoughts about offering him a football scholarship. That’s when his mother, LaShawn Stanford, didn’t quit on her son. She decided to show up to school and sat in his first-period class.

“R.J. showed up to first period 20 minutes late with a bag of McDonalds,” she said.

La Shawn Stanford (UPS and ITEP Advisory Board Member for GGLA) became more involved when her son's grades began to slip and even visited him during school. (Photo credit: UPS)

La Shawn Stanford (UPS and ITEP Advisory Board Member for GGLA) became more involved when her son’s grades began to slip and even visited him during school. (Photo credit: UPS)

He got the message from his mom. After that, his grades improved and he was offered a scholarship to the University of Utah.

In 2010, he was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the NFL draft. He played two years with the Panthers before signing with the Dolphins in 2012.

With a week off from NFL action, Stanford flew back across the country to spend time with his mother, who still lives in Chino but serves on the board of directors of the Gardena Global Leadership Academy.

“The kids are constantly looking for role models and inspiration,” said Rob Vickery, chairman of the Gardena Global Leadership Academy board. “R.J. had some challenges and I thought he was a good person for kids to meet.”

Stanford’s talk with the students was anything but the typical lecture to at-risk kids. For example, he quizzed the students on how they plan to attain their goals.

“What does it mean to be a professional?” he asked.

The students’ hands flew up.

Most said being a professional means getting paid for your work rather than doing it for free.

Stanford agreed but added a little more detail to what being a professional truly means to him.

“A professional does something until they can’t get it wrong; an amateur does it until they get it right.”

Even with his success on the gridiron, Stanford told the students that football has never been the ultimate measure of his success.

“Football is only a platform. How well you do in school will decide how well you will do in life,” he said.

As her son stood on the stage talking to the students, LaShawn Stanford was beaming with pride.

“I am so glad to see R.J. go in the direction I had hoped he would go in,” she said. “He’s very involved with the community, very involved with his church. He goes to Chino High School in the offseason and trains with the players.”

Perhaps explaining why it’s important for him to give back, Stanford told the students about a gift, a tool set, his grandfather willed to him. The gesture was both touching and served as a lesson for him.

“Let me not wait till I am on my death bed to leave people my tools.”

The Stanford family receives a warm welcome by ITEP students in Gardena's Global Leadership Academy (GGLA). (Photo credit: UPS)

The Stanford family receives a warm welcome by ITEP students in Gardena’s Global Leadership Academy (GGLA). (Photo credit: UPS)

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View more event photos on the ITEP Facebook Page.

A heartfelt thank you to GGLA students, faculty and advisory board members for organizing this special event, especially La Shawn Stanford (UPS), Rob Vickery (BNY Mellon) and the rest of the Stanford family.

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GGLA Graduation Rates Highest Among Gardena High School Seniors

The good news is in and it comes from Gardena, California.

Our Panthers are making us proud! The school-wide graduation rate for Gardena High School’s senior class of 2013 stood at an impressive 80%. Now add an ITEP sponsored academy into the student mix, and the rate jumps to 85%!

GGLA students network with UPS executives during ITEP’s 2013 Scholarship Dinner.

Gardena High’s Global Leadership Academy (GGLA) not only boasted a higher graduation rate among all seniors, but was also the Small Learning Community (SLC) with the largest graduating senior class. See stats below.

Small Learning Communities with Grad Rates:

Architecture, Construction, Computers, Engineering, & Robotics (ACCER): 73%

Sports, Health and Public Service (SHAPS): 80%

Arts, Media, and Entertainment (AME): 83%

ITEP Academy: Gardena Global Leadership Academy (GGLA): 85%

 “We want every student at Gardena High School to gain proficiency in every subject and become fully prepared for college.  The Global Leadership Academy helps students improve academically and socially.  It also helps students develop career goals and gain confidence in themselves.  The teachers in our Global Leadership Academy are doing an excellent job to help our students achieve at high levels.  Their hard work is having a positive effect on the entire school,” said Gardena High School Principal, Dr. Russ Thompson.

The high school also saw improved California Standards Tests scores in the areas of English 9, English 10, Algebra 2, Summative Math, Chemistry, and World History.

We’d like to congratulate Gardena High School – students, teachers and administrators for their academic success. By allowing us to work in their campus and with their talented Panthers, we’re working together to make LAUSD schools better and bring additional pride to the community.

GO Panthers!

GGLA students and Advisory Board Members take a fun pose during ITEP’s 2013 Scholarship Dinner.

Feeling inspired? Show your pride and support for GLA by emailing this post to a friend/ colleague, or share it on Twitter or Facebook.

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APL/NOL Awards $5,000 in Scholarships to Gardena High GLA Students

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Nguyen and Kristie, Gardena High School, Global Leadership Academy students and APL/NOL Scholarship Recipients.

It all began in 2010. The extraordinary partnership between NOL (Neptune Orient Lines), its subsidiary, APL (American President Lines) and ITEP led to a $40,000 donation to support our programs and scholarships.  At that time, the generous donation was divided among eight ITEP academies, including the first round of scholarships, which were awarded during our 2011 Scholarship Dinner.

Now in 2013, two worthy seniors are equally sharing the last of the $5000 APL/NOL Scholarship.

We are honored to announce Kristie Choe and Nguyen Pham as the 2013 APL/NOL Scholarship Recipients. Both Kristie and Nguyen belong to Gardena High School’s Global Leadership Academy (GGLA). Kristie will be attending UC Berkeley this fall to study Business, while Nguyen will attend El Camino College with plans to transfer to a University of California after to major in aerospace engineering.

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GGLA advisory board with APL/NOL scholarship recipients. (Left to right): Jamie Gutierrez (LAWA), Jay Marks (The Jay Marks Group), Susie Emami (ITEP), Lakisha Clark (Gardena High School), Nguyen (student), Kristie (student), Captain Sam Jebananthan (APL), La Shawn Stanford (UPS), Steve Pasienski (Toyota).

The GGLA students received their official APL/NOL certificates at the latest GGLA Advisory Board Meeting. Captain Sam Jebananthan, Senior Labor Manager for APL was present to congratulate the Gardena High seniors.

“I’m very happy to be part of a company that recognizes students as a real value to the community,” said Captain Jebananthan.

Our students were pleased and grateful – they were on the right track and appeared more motivated to approach the finish line at the end of their academic road. The APL/NOL scholarship was their “checkpoint”.

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Captain Sam Jebananthan from APL (middle) with the young scholars.

“It’s not just a recognition, but it’s an evaluation for myself to see where I’m getting to, where I am in my pathway and what level I’m in. It’s a support – a mental support for myself to lead me through whatever comes in between me and my future,” said Nguyen who hopes to attend UCLA, his “dream school.”

We were further impressed by the words of Nguyen’s classmate and other APL/NOL Scholar, the future Bear and businesswoman.

“GGLA has been the mentor that’s always kept me on my road to success… I couldn’t wait until 10th grade, when I could actual join GGLA… it’s like my lighthouse, keeping me straight in my path,” said Kristie.

The ambitious senior also discussed her post-college graduation plans, which involve giving back to her community and other cities similar to her hometown. Maybe we’ll see Kristie at a future ITEP Executive Board meeting?

“I want to come back after being successful and help other students like me, who come from underserved families and underserved communities who can’t afford to go to these fancy colleges and who have never had that support…” she added.

Both Kristie and Nguyen will cross their high school stage, and then a university platform. The end result is… well, it’s meant to be seen.

“I want to be an entrepreneur, so I have lots of big ideas. I have lots and lots of goals, but let’s just say I want to be international.”

Spoken like a true ITEP student.

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The UK Comes to LA with British Consulate’s Visit to Gardena High School

On May 1st, over 25 students from Gardena’s Global Leadership Academy (GGLA) ventured across the pond  to the United Kingdom from the comfort of their third period Government class.

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GGLA Advisory Board Chair and Director at BNY Mellon, Rob Vickery, shares UK fun facts with students.

The UK came to GLA in the form of a special visit by Ying Yee, Deputy Consul-General for the British Consulate in LA. With the help of GGLA Advisory Board Chair, Rob Vickery, who is also the Director of Wealth Management at BNY Mellon, our high-profile visitor immersed GGLA  into the UK culture and an introduction to international careers. Students learned about the role of the British Consulate in Los Angeles and throughout the world, and the importance of learning emerging languages like Mandarin and Spanish.

Did you know that over 300 languages are spoken in Great Britain?

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Ying Yee, Deputy Consul-General for the British Consulate in LA talks about the Foreign Service and international careers.

Gardena High School students played both tourists and hosts. In the days leading to Ms. Yee’s presentation, students prepared for the private group discussion by organizing marketing pitches for Great Britain and learning the basics of global economics. Now the time had come to present, and despite a few ‘ums’ and shaky voices, you couldn’t help but feel proud of our young people, representing their school to their global visitor wearing bow ties and business skirts.

A temporary escape from the ordinary classroom laid the foundation for a global perspective.

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Two Gardena High School students present to their special guest and classmates. Subjects covered by students ranged from the life of Winston Churchill to the UK Legislative Branch.

“I think one thing I learned is that by making connections now, they always lead to other connections later down the path… The future looks bright,” said Cameron, student presenter and Gardena High School senior.

“I want to go into bio-engineering,” added Cameron. The tall, JROTC officer said this proudly, but now had a global view of the job. “… Maybe helping out a different country’s government in terms of science, policies – helping their people get what they need. I feel as though that would be a very good field for me.”

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Cameron, JORTC cadet and Gardena High School student, talks with Ms. Yee and GGLA support staff.

Then there was Helen, who was contemplating the medical field. Ms. Yee’s speech on international careers and the Foreign Service seemed to come at a fitting time. As a senior, she was captivated by the promise of travel and assistance to other individuals, possibly through a future role in an embassy.

“…It really opened my eyes to a whole new different world that I wasn’t aware of… It actually made me change my mind on what I want to do… I like helping people… and I always thought a way to help a person was through the medical field. Now I’m thinking of psychology or religious studies to learn about other cultures,” said Helen.

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Gardena High School students network with Ms. Yee after her presentation.

An imaginary trip of sorts was the beginning of something bigger.

“I’m really glad my classmates got involved, and I thought it was a privilege, so thank you,” said Helen with a bubbly smile.

ITEP students are natural-born explorers and travelers.

Help us build the next set of global citizens and scholars. Visit the ITEP website to see how you can get involved. 

For event photos, visit the ITEP Facebook Page.

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API scores are up!

ITEP congratulates all five high schools  we work with on increasing their API Scores! The Academic Performance Index is an achievement gauge for California public schools based on standardized test results. Carson High School alone improved their score by 37 points for an official API score of 689, the highest score among LAUSD South Bay High Schools! Way to go, Colts! This great achievement is a product of the successful community partnerships among the schools, ITEP, and its industry volunteers.  Together, we are helping our young people think globally and earn locally. Our students rock!

Carson High School API Score for 2012 – 689 (Improvement of 37 over last year’s score 652)

Banning High School API Score for 2012 – 682 (Improvement of 23 over last year’s score 659)

Barstow High School API Score for 2012 – 696 (Improvement of 22 over last year’s score 674)

San Pedro High School API Score for 2012 – 716 (Improvement of 5 over last year’s score 711)

Gardena High School  API Score for 2012 – 633 (Improvement of 15 over last year’s score 61)

“I would like to express my gratitude to ITEP for their support throughout the years at Banning High School and Gardena High School. The support that you give students in the Small Learning Communities through  Community Advisory Boards, career presentations, summer internships, team building activities, and student recognition are the reasons our students stay on task to graduate. The partnership established with ITEP has allowed the resources to create an environment that is personable and nurturing. It is an experience that all students involved in an ITEP Academy will remember for a lifetime. The students that have benefited from the ITEP Academies are making positive contributions in the PORT because of your organization. We salute you, and thank you as we move into yet another exciting year of partnership.” -Rudy  J. Mendoza Principal, Phineas Banning High School

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Sun, rain and double rainbows!

The weather didn’t disappoint for the ITEP Friends and Family Sunset Sail. On Friday September 30, 15 ITEP Advisory Board members, Gardena Global Leadership Academy (GGLA) students, teachers from Gardena and Carson High School, and ITEP alumni, set sail on the Los Angeles Maritime Institutes (LAMI) Brigantine, the Exy Johnson, for a sunset sail through the Los Angeles Harbor. Each passenger donated $50 to sponsor one academy student for a half day sail.

With clear skies and sunshine ahead, the group set sail at Berth 78, Ports O’ Call in San Pedro and for three GGLA students it  was their first time at sea. The TopSail Youth Program uses sail training to provide real-life challenges with the goal of developing transferable skills from the classroom and into the workplace. GGLA students helped sail the vessel and mix and mingled with the business partners and volunteers who were on board.

Despite the rain, the sail ended perfectly with a double rainbow and a beautiful sunset. ITEP would like to give a special thanks to Nancy Richardson, Ed Steiner, the LAMI volunteers for all their help and support, to Ann Burckle for sponsoring the participation of the four GGLA students, and to Captain Rob who gallantly led the group through safe waters and capricious weather. This was an amazing opportunity for GGLA students. With the money raised, we will be able to send more ITEP students out to sea very soon.

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GGLA Students Get the Inside Scoop Into LAWA Careers

Watch the video clip here!

Through the partnership between ITEP’s Gardena Global Leadership Academy (GGLA) and Jaime Gutierrez, International Trade and Job Training Outreach Coordinator at Los Angeles World Airports, students met at the Flight Path Museum for a job-shadowing day at LA World Airports on May 20, 2011. Fifteen LAWA employees from different sectors including IT System Operations, Financial Reporting, Environmental Services, and Public Relations, took students on a two hour tour to explore a day in the life of a LAWA employee.

11th grader Griselda followed Lt. Keawe Tolson, head of Airport Police, Traffic Control Unit. Interested in a career in Law Enforcement, Griselda was eager to shadow Lt. Tolson, who took her to the airfield where she was able to learn about the vital and necessary safety precautions that security takes.

Griselda not only got a taste of all the exciting things that Lt. Tolson’s jobs entails, but also the day-to-day operations, like checking policies and being aware of employee grievances.

Lt. Tolson spoke to Griselda about the importance of being well rounded and making sure to keep your options open for the future. He explained different positions within the law enforcement field and provided a realistic view of salary structure and the skills necessary to rise within a law enforcement organization.

After hearing all this, Griselda’s enthusiasm caught the attention of Allyson Lavalais, Education Outreach Coordinator, who offered her a coveted summer internship on the spot. This tour only further solidified Griselda’s understanding of the importance of education and how everything she does now, shapes her future later.

After the individual department tours, and a delicious lunch courtesy of LAWA, GGLA students were treated to a demonstration by the K9 Unit. Officer Hans Bergmann and his new partner Eco delighted the students with his “high play drive,” a trait looked for in all service dogs.

Lt. Robert Rios followed up with a passionate speech about the love of his work and serving people in his community. He stressed to the students the need to maintain outstanding citizenship throughout their lives no matter what career they pursue, and how the image they portray on public places like Facebook will affect them down the line.

LAWA was so impressed with the GGLA students, they are excited for another job shadowing day in the fall, and creating an ongoing pipeline for Gardena High School students to gain summer internships in the future.

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