Encore started operating in Hesperia Unified School District in August of 2008 (08/08/08 to be exact, as Encore and the Summer Olympics both started on that day.) The support from the High Desert has been great over the last thirteen years and Encore has felt like a good contributing member of the community in Hesperia.
Encore’s students come from all over. Currently, we represent students commuting from over 17 school districts (when you count pupils who matriculate from various public-school districts, charter schools and private schools that have transferred from their districts/school of origin in the 2019-20 school year) and Encore offers these students a school where they can pursue a rigorous academic program, combined with intense arts training in their field of choice. Encore’s shift over the last three years to tying in all arts training with career preparations is building a new generation of career minded and creative employee candidates.
The original charter petition was created from a small grass roots community of three main founders (Denise Griffin, Johnny Griffin, and Paula Gharib) and parents of children that were passionate about the arts. With a background in arts management and education, our founders created a plan from a kitchen table that turned into the largest arts school in the Inland Empire. With thirteen years of experience, Encore continues to grow and improve every year.
Looking to the future of Encore, our commitment of continuing to provide innovative education through one to one technology, career technical education based programs in the arts, and unique ideas to celebrate accomplishments of students, will help Encore continue to be both innovative and nurturing to students, staff, and families within the High Desert community and the commuter family that has been created within the Encore organization.
2006 - A small team of arts and academic enthusiasts started on a mission to create a place where socio- economically disadvantaged students would be able to pursue interests in a variety of arts programs while obtaining a high quality academic education. The mission of this school was to create a free public program that would provide a creative, challenging, and nurturing environment that offers secondary students innovative preparation for a university education and pursuit of the arts.
2008 - With a very small amount of startup capital from federal grants, Encore Jr. /Sr. High School for the Performing & Visual Arts opened in Hesperia, California (“Encore - High Desert”) with 580 students under the direction of the nonprofit corporation, Encore Education Corporation.
Charter Terms - Encore Education Corporation has had charter petitions granted through Hesperia Unified School District with unanimous "yes" votes from the HUSD School Board three times. Encore's first term in Hesperia was for three years. The next term was for five years. The third term was also for five years. Encore was awarded the fourth charter term for five years in January 2021.
History and Accomplishments
During the first twelve years of operation, Encore has been on a cycle of constant improvement. During the 20/21 school year, Encore will graduate their 13th class of Hesperia seniors and their 16th class overall. With the 16 classes of graduates, Encore's seniors have been offered over sixteen million dollars in college scholarships to post-secondary institutions across the globe. Encore alumni are working around the world (27 countries and counting) and throughout the United States (26 states and counting). On top of having students accepted into a variety of colleges including UCLA, Yale, and Berklee Conservatory of Music: Encore also has some awesome accomplishments with students including:
Netflix People's Choice Award for Acting in a comedy series
Member of the San Diego Ballet Company
Choreographer for Disney Television
Doctor of Psychology, graduated from the University of Nebraska
Countless Credentialed teachers across the country
Photographer for Cirque du Soleil
Officers within the United States Navy, Army, Air Force, and National Guard
Fashion Designer that was featured in Teen Vogue
Nationally recognized teen activists
Country music artist with appearances across the country and a music contract in Nashville
YouTube stars with over 25 million views
Lawyers, the latest graduating from Texas University and passing the bar in Texas
Professional stuntman seen in big screen movies and on television
Multiple alumni on television talent competitions (the Voice, American Idol, World of Dance, America's Got Talent)
Professional Graphic Designers
Encore is proud of the accomplishments of the graduates from the first twelve years of operation.
The global pandemic has definitely created havoc throughout the education process in all schools worldwide. Since the pandemic broke and the last day of in person instruction was fittingly Friday the 13th in March of 2020, Encore didn't stop working on the process of progress. Encore is very proud of it's teaching staff as even through their regularly scheduled spring break, they set their free time aside to work on a plan for distance learning for their students. They wanted to make sure that their students were appropriately supported, not only academically but mentally as well. COVID-19 has been a trying experience for everyone no matter how old you are or how prepared you believed you were.
During the time of distance learning, Encore created an immediate plan for the return from spring break for the students of Encore. This included a dropping of late work deadlines on all homework assigned prior to the school shutdown. Next, a schedule was created for when all students could log in to classes for enrichment and an opportunity to improve their grades in their classes. Most classes met twice per week during the initial "enrichment" phase of shutdown. Encore immediately employed the use of Zoom technology and created a website www.encorestudent.com that acted as the student "TV Guide" to be able to continue with education in the spring of 2020. Students and teaching staff stayed at home through the end of the school year, teaching and learning from a Distance.
To help seniors weather the storm, Encore's ESG delivered yard signs to every seniors and mailed goodies to them almost daily to remind them that they mattered. A series of events were held online using Encore's streaming television platform on "Twitch TV" including a virtual prom, senior breakfast, senior sunset, and senior trivia versus staff (that replaced the traditional seniors versus staff dodgeball and basketball games). The counseling staff arranged for online sessions to make sure that all of their college applications and paperwork was completed on time. For their masters certifications, they were able to complete the jury interviews through Zoom so as much of their senior year still took place, finishing with a online graduation ceremony that included very heartfelt interviews with every single senior. For the first time, every graduating senior was hear during graduation. Their diplomas were delivered to their homes by teachers and administration during the live airing of their graduation ceremony.
The growth didn't stop there. Once summer started, Encore's teaching staff continued to develop the curriculum for the fall in the event that school would not reopen as planned. www.encorestudent.com was overwritten with a class development platform (Learnworlds) where the teaching staff took what happens during their regular school day and embedded it into a online program so that in the fall when the students returned to school, asynchronous learning could happen as seamlessly as synchronous learning. This was important based on the data collected from surveys regarding Encore's spring "enrichment" distance learning. Working to perfect the systems was key based on the fact that returning in the fall, the courses would no longer be "enrichment."
Encore made the decision to start school later this year in hopes that more of the pandemic would have run it's course and hopefully some in person learning could happen by the start date of September 14. Unfortunately, this was not the case and Encore started school with distance learning for all students. In October, Encore did start having cohorts of about 8 students attend classes a couple times a week for the students that were designated as special education with needs that required minimal in person instruction. By the time Encore closed for winter break the cohort had swelled to about 12 students attending, still maintaining the less than 16 people in a cohort.
Encore is currently running all instruction (except SPED cohorts) as distance learning regardless of the program that the families have chosen to participate in as schools start to reopen according to the governor's orders. For the month of January, even the SPED cohorts have been shut down through February 1st in response to the current COVID-19 surges. Encore has taken lead from the County Department of Public Health regarding safety measures for the school and has implemented some measures that are more stringent than the county measures as staff has been on campus. As a result, no outbreaks have happened within the Encore staff and all cases of COVID-19 that have happened to staff members have happened off site and have been able to stay off site to date. We are taking the pandemic, and the emotional strain that is tied to the pandemic, very seriously.
Encore's ongoing safety measures:
Everyone is temperature checked upon entry to the campus
Everyone wears a mask (surgical masks starting February1 for staff)
Everyone socially distances
COVID-19 tests were required every 8 weeks, at the return from every break (summer, fall, winter), at the reference of the possibility of exposure to anyone that may have contracted COVID-19 or come in contact with anyone with COVID-19
Automatic self-quarantine for 10 days for any staff member that came in contact with someone with COVID-19 or someone that was in contact with someone with COVID-19
No in person instruction
Limited on campus hours for most staff members, offers of tiered work schedules, shortened public office hours
To help staff and students with the social and emotional health during this trying time, Encore's ESG continues to hold a variety of activities like the virtual Halloween "dance and gaming event" where students were able to play the popular "Among Us" game together. There was also a talent show, a poetry slam, and a trivia game night. The senior class held a drive in "Senior Sunrise" and under the approval of the CDPH, the ESG was able to hold a "HalloFreak" drive through haunted house experience to replace Encore's traditional Carnival that is held in October.
The counseling department holds weekly meetings with students to help with social and emotional health and have been holding private meetings with students via "Zoom" for the emotional health as well. Encore's administrative staff has had private and schoolwide staff meetings for social and emotional well being of staff and have invited staff to come on campus if they need the emotional connection and normalcy for work more frequently than the minimum requirement during the pandemic.
While distance learning is still a struggle because students in general want to be on campus at school, Encore has done a really good job of weathering the storm and building the most engaging platform for students and staff during this completely unprecedented time.
As Encore braces for the future, the students, staff, and faculty are looking beyond the global pandemic. As an organization, we believe that the yearlong shutdown of schools (and the world) is going to change the fabric of the needs of students moving forward. While Encore was already in a state of profession with the formalization of the career technical education pathways on campus, the next five years will show this as being critical to the success of students after they graduate from high school, especially arts students looking for a professional career in the arts.
The fundamental philosophy of the Encore's leadership is that all of the students that graduate from Encore High School should have a primary knowledge (and the tools) needed to be able to sustain a successful career/life after high school. Encore believes that the only way that this philosophy can come to fruition is with a strong academic foundation and the knowledge on how to build a career and their own business when the time requires it. Encore is focused on improving Dashboard and state test scores, even with the setbacks that will unfold this year due to the global pandemic, and creating opportunities and challenges to help students become more self reliant when it comes to job security. This is why Encore's CTE formalization and teaching with fidelity is paramount to the success of Encore graduates moving forward.
This focused staff is pointed to student achievement, social emotional learning, and creating the building blocks for career minded individuals after they graduate from high school.
Encore is watching the trending changes and challenges happening right now as the global world of distance learning is changing the fabric of education forever. The teachers and staff of Encore are watching closely as they also engage in professional development to help embed and understand the importance of technology as the main foothold in education from here forward.
Couple this professional development with benchmark gauges that are recognized by the state of California for testing students and measuring success, Encore is poised for the future.
Encore has reset philosophies for school sizes, have completed the expansion of the campuses for short term projects, and is now focused on the sustainability of Encore's programs over time. While Encore has been working diligently on reducing deficits over the past five years, the conservative approach to the next five years is going to place Encore in the best fiscal position that it has been since it has opened. The biggest change in this position is the change in focus from expanding programs to perfecting programs. It is noteworthy that Encore has improved the cash position fiscally dramatically every year for the past three years and continues to make these improvements. The budget for the 20/21 school year shows the reserve percentages hitting appropriate balances and short term spending (pending changes based on upcoming deferrals) will decrease as Encore settles into a program for sustainability.
During Encore's third charter term with HUSD, Encore experienced successes while adapting into a career minded curriculum using technology as the main conduit for education.
Encore moved all students to one to one technology, using online curriculum and laptop computers assigned to all students.
Encore’s film program was awarded state recognition for films that covered the topic of teenage mental health and suicide prevention.
Encore’s musical theater team was adjudicated and named state champions in 2019 for the Musical Theatre Competitions of America (“MCTA”) state competition at Disneyland.
Encore was awarded Inland Empire’s Best Music School for 2019 by Inland Empire Magazine.
Encore was awarded High Desert's Best Live Entertainment by the Daily Press.
Encore's graduates have earned over 14 million dollars in scholarship awards over the first twelve years of operation - $1.5 million awarded in 2020.
75% of Encore’s graduating seniors have entered into a postsecondary program (25% four year universities and 50% in two year programs).
Dashboard gains in suspension rate, college and career readiness, English language arts, and mathematics were flashed for 2019.
Encore adopted CTE pathways and are in process of partnering with VVC to initiate concurrent enrollment for high school students.
Encore Education Corporation was started by a small team of high desert teachers and arts enthusiasts. It started with an after school program at Hesperia High School where Denise Griffin, John Griffin, and Paula Gharib held classes for the youth of the high desert. These classes included everything from singing and dancing to acting and modeling. At the height of the program, "Star Quest Arts Academy" had about 60 participants in the after school program. They created recital based performances and their advanced team (then known as the Street Team that evolved into the "Ambassador" program at Encore High School) traveled around California and performed on semi-professional and professional stages. Some highlights of the team include opening for "the Temptations", performing on the same stage as "The Cheetah Girls", and producing several Radio Disney Kid Stars. They also had several child participants participate in television competition shows like "America's Most Talented Kid" and "The Next Brady" game show. The group was also very active in the high desert community performing at a lot of community events like the fairs and expos at the San Bernardino Fairgrounds. This after school program started in a garage in 2003.
As the interest in the program grew, the founders of the program wanted to be able to offer more to the young people of the high desert. They had reached maximum capacity for this program and wanted to be able to give more to kids and families that could otherwise not afford the type of classes that they were offering. It was important to them to make sure that the socioeconomic disadvantaged kids of the high desert could have a chance to be exposed to arts and performing arts in a way that they would not have been able to afford prior. During a production of "Annie" at the High Desert Center for the Arts, the idea for a charter school was brought to the founders by a couple parents that were already active in homeschooling their children. From their the idea was born.
As soon as initial research was completed, John and Denise Griffin met with Arlene Gluck from Hesperia Unified School District to find out what the requirements would be to open a charter school in HUSD. The passion for the school grew as the process started. A web site was quickly built and within 90 days of the website launch, Encore High School had about 800 signatures for the petition to start the school in HUSD. By the time the petition went before the HUSD School Board, over 1600 people in the high desert had signed the petition stating that they were materially interested in having the school in the high desert, having their children attend the school, and being a teacher for the program in the high desert.
With this positivity, this grass roots program (built literally from long time residents of the high desert that wanted to provide something special for the kids of their hometown), a unanimous vote for approval happened before the HUSD School Board and Encore opened it's door for the first day of school on 08/08/08. Encore has been building creativity in the high desert since 2008 and continues to grow and improve every year.
WHO'S WHO ADMINISTRATION
Encore Since 2021
Encore Since 2022
Assistant Dean of Student Services
Bachelors Business Administration
Encore Since 2011
Business Education Technology Specialist
Encore Since 2011
Administrative Head Counselor
Encore Since 2010