Aldo Leopold Elementary School’s diverse student body creates challenges for educators. The school has mindfully implemented programs to reduce racial academic disparities. Its next step: to fully engage the school’s community outside of the school’s walls.
To tackle a problem as complex as the achievement gap, you need people who thrive on a challenge, feel passionate about doing right by their students and want to make a difference in the lives of children in poverty. A school’s primary mission is instruction, but to get children ready to learn academic skills, they also need to learn how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that often results from living in poverty.
A group of about 16 second graders sit in a circle on the carpet looking toward Kristin Pellerin waiting to begin their morning welcome time, where students greet one another and prepare for a day of learning. Caring not just for the educational, but also the emotional needs of each student, is a priority for Aldo Leopold Elementary School teachers. Without first fulfilling each child’s basic needs, they will not be ready to learn, Pellerin says.
Leopold Elementary is teaching behavioral skills to prevent future problems.
Instead of getting a call home, a parent with a student at Leopold Elementary School might get a knock on the door from Jeremy Thornton, the school’s parent liaison.
The role of a parent liaison was reintroduced to the district three years ago, and Leopold is one of four schools in the district with this position. Along with Glendale, Falk and Mendota, Leopold has been identified as a key school in the district where improvement in parent communication is necessary.
All of students’ educational and emotional needs in the classroom can’t be met in regular class activities. Instructional resource teachers at Leopold Elementary play a critical role in boosting classroom instruction.