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Building Community Through Teacher Home Visits

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Kate Barker is principal of David Douglas School District’s Cherry Park Elementary, which received funding from SVP to conduct Kindergarten Teacher Home Visits. This is how the program impacted the Cherry Park Elementary community.

Cherry Park Elementary is so thankful to be the recipients of grant funds to support our Kindergarten Teacher Home Visits program. We are a school of 600 students, where 75% live below the poverty line and 28 different languages are spoken. We have an emphasis on early childhood at our school and house six classrooms of all-day kindergarten students and two classrooms of pre-school. Building relationships with our students and community is at the heart of what we do at Cherry Park. Home visits are a perfect way for us to connect with our community so when we heard about the opportunity to receive grant funds to do this important work we were thrilled!

At the end of this month we will have completed over 60 home visits. These visits have been undertaken by our kindergarten teachers, counselor, language coach, principal, behavior specialist and special education staff. We’ve had many meaningful interactions with families that have led to understanding the students better, connecting families to resources, establishing the importance of school attendance and establishing positive bonds with our community.

One particularly impactful home visit occurred when we visited a home and found that a refugee family of six from Burma was living in an apartment with only a couple of dirty mattresses and nothing else. Within 48 hours, we were able to spark action in the community and furniture, bedding, toys, kitchenware and much more was delivered to the refugee family (pictured above on their new couch). This demonstrates the depth of importance of these visits. Not only are our teachers getting to know students and their families, but actual communities are also being strengthened. Families that might otherwise be living in relative isolation are being connected to others and to resources.

The word has spread that staff are visiting families. There wasn’t a morning that went by this past week that the principal didn’t get asked, “When are you coming to my house?” The connections that are being made are invaluable and surely will make a lasting impact on familial relationships and, ultimately, student achievement.

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