Life Learning Academy students.

Students are referred by probation officers, community-based programs, themselves, friends and families of current Life Learning Academy students, and other schools. Prior to enrollment at LLA, these students have been truant or dropped out of school completely and have a failing grade point average, most report regular drug or alcohol use, a history of arrest and come from families that are crime involved. However, the same students who missed an average of 41 days in their last semester at other schools, missed an average of only three days in their first term at LLA and improved their grade point average from 0.9 (“F”) to 2.6 (“C). LLA’s attendance rate for 2004-2005 was 93%, and 33% of our student body had perfect attendance.

LLA students come from various high-crime, economically depressed neighborhoods in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The average racial/ethnic composition of the student body is 40% African American, 24% Multi-racial, 19% Latino, 7% White, 5% Asian, 3% Pacific Islander, and 2% Filipino.


One of Life Learning Academy’s main goals is to provide students with life skills, including accountability and responsibility, the ability to trust and be trusted, and the skills necessary to be a contributing member of their family, community and society. LLA has a Student Council that holds students accountable to the rules established for LLA under the supervision of the Principal and faculty. Students who demonstrate outstanding leadership and responsibility advance to become members of the Council, and Council Members actively monitor student conduct, ensuring a drug free, crime free campus and respectful student interactions.

Council students also act as mediators and role models in their classes, teaching classmates the importance of personal accountability. LLA encourages peer leadership to help new students adjust to its culture and programming, as well as an emphasis on community service, both at school and in the outside community.

In addition, interpersonal issues are addressed in interactive groups that meet regularly and are facilitated by Student Council members and the Principal. Moreover, each student has an assigned mentor who spends tutoring, recreational and personal time with that student.


Staff includes credentialed academic and vocational teachers, one San Francisco Police Lieutenant, one San Francisco Fire Lieutenant, and adult mentors from Delancey Street Foundation. All teachers are credentialed in the subject areas they teach.

Vocational instructor Don Bartlow with students.

Rather than treat students as passive recipients of learning and discipline, the staff teaches all students to take responsibility for the school community by emphasizing group norms and designing hands-on lessons that require students to cooperate with one another.

Teachers have been selected on numerous occasions to present their innovative curricular advancements to other interested educators at seminars and conferences across the country.

The tone of the school is set by the Principal, Teri Lynch Delane. Teri entered Delancey Street in the early 70s as a teenage prostitute, drug addict and school drop-out. At Delancey Street she went on to get her college B.A., 2 Masters Degrees and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. More than her degrees, however, her commitment to adolescents and to the Delancey Street principles are felt daily by the students by her word and deeds. She role models what the school makes possible for youths.