One of my favorite components of Stand for Children’s work is our efforts to highlight the successes of high performing schools that serve a high needs student body. We define these schools as those that earned an ‘A’ or ‘B’ from the Louisiana Department of Education and have a student body with 75% or more economically disadvantaged students. In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 112 of these high performing, high needs schools in Louisiana.
There is much we can learn from visiting these schools, identifying the strategies that work, and highlighting their successes. W. G. Schneckenburger Elementary School, or Schneck, is a school in Kenner that meets these criteria. Along with Council for a Better Louisiana, Stand for Children sponsored a two hour visit to Schneck earlier this year.
You know you’re walking into a special place when a 4th grade “Super Greeter” meets you at the door, introduces themselves, tells you a bit about the school, and walks you to your meeting. Schnek’s Super Greeter program gives students additional responsibilities, increasing school pride and developing leadership skills.
The students, teachers, families, support staff, and administrators of Scneck live their mission: “the students of Schneckenburger Elementary School will achieve their academic and personal best with the support of educators, families, and the community in a nurturing and positive environment.” Schneck is one of the most collaborative and communicative schools I have had the pleasure of visiting.
These eye-opening and informative school visits are made possible thanks to generous donors. Please consider donating to Stand for Children Louisiana today to support more school visits in the future.
It is the mutual support between educators, families, students, the administration, and the community that most stood out to me during my visit. Educators receive relevant, timely, and comprehensive professional development that is catered to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. The school partners with the district to identify and secure needed teaching materials for the entire district that are cost-prohibitive for a single school’s budget. Kiwanis International supports students with books, donations, and a weekend food program. Students, in partnership with their teacher, develop their own goals and can recite and discuss them anytime. Educators provide timely data to students to track their own progress toward goals. Local churches and community groups volunteer their time to provide supplemental tutoring to struggling students. Every teacher has an open door policy so that any colleague or student can walk in and ask a question at any point of the day. Teachers attend the classes of the grade above to ensure what they are teaching their students prepares them for next year’s lessons. Collaboration of this sort creates shared responsibility and investment that drives student success.
I was most impressed with Schneck’s commitment to family participation. There are bilingual greeters in front of the school every morning to talk to parents and guardians as they drop off their students. Families were invited to informational nights when new curricula was introduced to answer questions and discuss how families can best support their students’ at-home learning. The school hosts frequent family nights, sends out a detailed and practical newsletter that includes content written by students, and extends teachers’ and administrators’ open door policy to families.
The biggest themes I took from Schneck: ownership of student goals, parental involvement, and investments in personnel drive the impressive academic and social results seen at this high needs schools. These strategies can seem daunting to implement, but the results speak for themselves.
In addition to recognizing Schnek’s outstanding leadership and faculty, I would also like to thank the elected and appointed officials who took time out of their day to join our visit: BESE Representative District 1 Jim Garvey, Jefferson Parish School Board Member District 7 Billy North, Jefferson Parish School Board Member District 9 Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge, and Superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System Dr. Cade Brumley. Your interest in recognizing and highlighting Schneck’s successes is much appreciated.