Loma Park Elementary – San Antonio, TX
Today’s School Spotlight takes us to Loma Park Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, where in true Texas form, everything is done BIG. Yesterday’s blog by State of the Re:Union’s contributor Mark McGrath mentioned the Bright Spot Program, which is part of Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a collaborative effort that the National Civic League is involved with. (To read yesterday’s post, click here.)
This program reaches across the country and customizes its tactics to reflect the issues of each region. According to the Website, the one thing that the program shares across the board is its goal:
- Closing the gap in reading achievements that separates many low-income students from their peers
- Raising the bar for reading proficiency so all students are assessed by world-class standards
- Ensure all children have equitable opportunity to meet those higher standards
The Bright Spot Program recognizes Loma Park Elementary is a high opportunity school. According to a release from the program, “The students at Loma Park Elementary get excellent scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, but they learn much more at school than the answers to test questions. ‘I want my students academically prepared for their careers in school and beyond,’ says Principal Alicia Garcia. She and Loma Park teachers want all students to “be self-directed learners, to read critically for meaning, and simply to love reading literature.”
Loma Park staff and district personal worked together in designing an innovative program that uses a balanced literacy approached to instill in the children a passion for reading.
In their approach to resolving educational issues plaguing their community, their reading initiative “Let’s Read!” is looking systemically at child development issues that can potentially impede a child’s academic success. According to the Grade Level Reading Initiative post, “Loma Park is leading the district in preemptive, early developmental screening of all incoming students — looking at social and emotional issues, health issues such as diabetes and asthma, fine and gross motor coordination, speech problems, and any other difficulties that might interfere with reading and overall academic success. Teachers trained in evaluation and data interpretation by a health professional administer the screening in January, after they’ve developed a relationship with each child. Parents trained as advocates, called ‘Promotoras,’ play a crucial role by reaching out to individual families in the community and communicating results.”
‘Through this approach,’ says Garcia, ‘we are able to identify and address developmental issues as early as possible to ensure that each child has the best possible chance to reach his or her academic potential.’”
Another way that Loma Park is achieving success is through marrying fun and education with its after-school program. The “Club House” embeds literacy instruction in the settings of students’ play. As an example, in the Cooking Club, students read and interpret recipes and convert measurements. They also have “Saturday Adventures,” which allows after-school students to take what they’ve learned throughout the week in the Club House and apply it in various locations in the community.
In addition to these program elements, Loma Park uses the district-wide “Universal Review System,” making it possible to evaluate a child’s progress every nine weeks. “The System also matches each child with appropriate interventions and tracks progress for each intervention. With support through the Casey Foundation’s Making Connections program, Foundations, Inc. provides additional assistance in staff development and needs assessments,” according to the Bright Spot release.
Loma Park Elementary School is doing all that it can to “develop community-based strategies that reinforce reading progress.” The school is working with many community organizations (civic, nonprofit, churches, universities, et al.) to make certain that “every child has access to individualized support.”
San Antonio is a place that is steeped in the Texas tradition of never giving up – the epic battle of the Alamo bears testament to that. Embracing this same spirit are the faculty, teachers, students and families of the community that Loma Park Elementary School serves. This approach introduces students to environments rich with reading materials. As part of its base instruction, they use the premise that students’ reading abilities will advance with access to the proper materials and support. With a teacher’s guidance, reading increases in difficulty with each accomplished level of reading skill improvement.
SOTRU’s School Spotlight continues in its quest to find schools such as this who demonstrate and achieve community in education success. If you know of a school or community with the same modus operandi, we would love for you to tell us about it.