SJA PRAXIS: From Purpose to Sovereignty

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2 Part Video – Total Time: 35:54

By Erica Viray Santos

For my TPAR, I researched the effectiveness of a small school program that is rooted in a Social Justice and Ethnic Studies pedagogy and framework in empowering marginalized students and positively advancing youth wellness. This research was focused on my work and students in the Social Justice Academy (SJA) of San Leandro High School. My TPAR included a survey I conducted with the 2022 SJA senior class on wellness and an Ethnic Studies Wellness lesson highlighting their senior capstone project in SJA, the PRAXIS Project. The PRAXIS Project focuses on the question: can students belonging to traditionally marginalized communities realize purpose and sovereignty in a country grounded in oppression and injustice?

Critical Media Literacy and Wellness

What do students need to feel and be well? 

I set out to conduct research on the effectiveness of small school programs rooted in a Social Justice and Ethnic Studies pedagogy and framework as a means to empower marginalized students and positively advance youth wellness.

In SJA, I often hear from students and alumni that being part of a supportive and loving community of teachers and students in our academy program is what helps them to feel and be well. I wanted to understand and research this further, what it is about our small school program within our larger comprehensive high school that helps to foster their wellness, and which of our practices, projects, and so forth rooted in a Social Justice and Ethnic Studies pedagogy and framework have been most effective.

Ethnic Studies pedagogy and framework

Check Ins 

Weekly Holistic Reflections

Community Circles 

SJA Family Structure 

SJA Family Days

One on Ones during Lunch and After School


Creative Writing 

PRAXIS Project Websites

About Erica Viray Santos

Erica Viray Santos is a radical mother, partner, educator, organizer, and Pinay that was born and raised in the Bay Area. Ethnic Studies at James Logan High School and UC Berkeley gifted her with decolonization, agency, and healing that led her to community organizing and education. She has been a community organizer for over two decades and a high school teacher for the last 17 years. She started her career at James Logan High School teaching in the Ethnic Studies Department. However, for the past 14 years, she has been a teacher in and the coordinator of the Social Justice Academy (SJA) at San Leandro High School, a program serving youth and families that focuses on building community, critical consciousness, holistic humanization, and transformative solidarity.