Floors have been waxed and polished, desks have been cleaned and arranged into neat rows, and bulletin boards are decorated in bright colors and interesting designs. Classroom lists have been posted on the doors, and excited students have been stopping by to see who their teacher is this year. On the first day of school, teachers stood outside their classrooms and welcomed eager, enthusiastic, and sometimes, hesitant students.
While it sounds like the start of many school years across the country, Roosevelt Elementary Community School, a United Way of Salt Lake Neighborhood Center in South Salt Lake, is doing something different. As a community school, we are focused on supporting the students and their families with extra services, including additional academic support, health services, and parent engagement programs. Roosevelt Elementary is also a part of Promise South Salt Lake, a partnership which is committed to helping children succeed, every step of the way.
Roosevelt Elementary has a unique and diverse community. It is a Title 1 school and 15 percent of our students have refugee status, 60 percent are English Language Learners, and 90 percent receive free and reduced lunch benefits, meaning they live at or near the poverty line. Over 30 languages are spoken, and students come from 26 different countries! On the first day of school, I had the pleasure of meeting three brothers who had just moved here from West Africa this summer. While their English is very limited, it was clear they were very excited to start at their first school since moving to Utah. They were proud of their new backpacks, folders, and shoes, and were looking forward to meeting new friends on the playground.
Because Roosevelt is a community school, we can offer families like these more than just academics. Roosevelt makes sure that children and their families are receiving the comprehensive services that they need. In fact, their mom has already enrolled in English classes.
Roosevelt is excited to begin working with Latinos in Action (LIA) classes from both Cottonwood and Olympus High Schools. These motivated high school students will be coming to Roosevelt twice a week to work one-on-one or in small groups with students, supporting what teachers are doing in the classroom. Additionally, we are excited to have our Read Today and Mentoring for Success AmeriCorps members, Jeanne and Celeste, on board to support literacy skills and to help students realize the importance of coming to school every day.
Day of Caring 2013 is right around the corner too! Roosevelt and United Way of Salt Lake are partnering with Intermountain Health Care, Wells Fargo, and OC Tanner to paint a mural on the front of our school building and to set up a guided reading library. We are looking forward to working with the generous employees of all of these companies!
From coordinating with health partners in South Salt Lake to providing easy access to health care and insurance enrollment, and making sure the City of South Salt Lake afterschool programming aligns with what teachers are teaching in the classroom, Roosevelt Elementary is committed to helping each child succeed, from cradle to career!