Van and I don’t have school-aged kids, but we still feel the excitement as those around us get their families ready to embark on a new academic year. In an effort to engage with our community, we have taken an interest in the neighborhood school close by. We recently heard from Sarah Greenman, the former Skyview Elementary PTA President, regarding the school’s demographics, goings-on, successes, needs and goals for the coming year. Here’s some interesting information about the school:
The school enrolls approximately 775 students in Pre-K through 6th grade. Of those students, about 85% are in the reduced school lunch program and more than 650 of them live at or below the poverty line. Many are refugees from other countries. For approximately 40% of the students, English is not their primary language. In fact, many of the children do not know English before enrolling in the school. Yet, remarkably, most of those children speak three or four languages and are trying to add English to that list. (I know one language, tried to learn another and gave up). This language barrier accounts for low test scores and, consequently low rankings among other schools. Mrs. Greenman attests to the fact that within a few years initially non-English speaking students become nearly fluent in the language. Kuddos to them for conquering one of the more difficult languages to learn.
The men and women who undertake to educate and serve these precious ones and their families must daily confront challenges by such demographics. The PTA works with the school and community to help provide a school where children get equal access to educational resources and can grow, learn and succeed regardless of economic standing in the community and other societal, cultural and language hurdles.
In 2016, the Skyview PTA sponsored the creation of the school’s Harmony Garden, located on the north side of the building. Have you seen it? The public is welcome to take a look and join in. This garden consists of vegetable gardens to be worked and cared for by the students, flower gardens with a butterfly habitat and music areas where outdoor instruments have been installed. Teachers are encouraged to integrate the garden into their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum. This integration has helped boost STEM programs and scores. The kids must love it because on the garden days assigned for their class attendance is at 100%.
Last year we attended the gala and auction hosted by Skyview PTA where they raised $17,000 that will go towards a new electronic school marquee that will display school information in multiple languages. There are currently 12 different languages spoken on campus, 34 different languages spoken by students’ families. The marquee should be installed soon so be watching for it.
The goal for the 2017-2018 school year is to bolster the literacy of those students struggling due to a late start, slow progress or a language barrier. They are asking the Lake Highlands community for donations to purchase Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) kits that have been very useful resources in bolstering literacy. The cost of each kit ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the grade. Richardson ISD has provided 4 kits. Skyview PTA is hoping to raise funds to purchase 2 more kits. If you want to contribute as we have, you can send a donation to Skyview Elementary PTA at 9229 Meadowknoll Drive, Dallas, Texas 75231.
A new initiative could affect you. Skyview is planning to institute a new traffic system at the start of the year to try and help alleviate traffic issues. They are looking for volunteers from the community to help out.
It sounds like hopeful days are ahead for the elementary school. It’s a great feeling to be a part of that. We will try to let you know of other opportunities to contribute as they come up in case some of you share our interest in the little school that could.
We know the source of school pride varies among the families here in Town Creek and we celebrate the diversity that brings. Whatever is the object of your school pride and spirit, here’s to 2017-2018!
Sheri and Van Littrell