Central New York, Community, Education, Health

First Community School is recognized for helping low income families

Dr.Weeks school focuses on the kid's education but it does it quite different than other regular elementary schools.

By Angelica Rodriguez SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS)– The first community school in Syracuse gives hope to low income families that have a hard time accessing education.

Dr. Edwin E. Weeks Elementary School provides additional services beyond education that have helped the Northside community to overcome problems such as poverty and language barriers.  The philosophy of the school is simple: remove the obstacles that cause families to put aside education.

“Whether it’s support with Healthcare, basic needs, housing or education, we are trying to make sure parents could feel like ok, I can go to one place and feel I can trust them and work together to try to move to the next step for me,” explained Carin Reeve-Larham, Principal of Dr.Weeks school.

Reeve-Larham describes the school as a single-point of access for families in the community. Dr. Weeks school works with organizations like the Northside Community Center to provide the services before, during and after school hours.

“We work will all these providers to make sure our families can access what they need through the school to be able to have a better start to what they are trying to do to get out of poverty or acclimate to the community,” said the principal.

The school recently implemented an Adult Program that helps families who do not speak English at all. The English as New Language (ENL) classes prepare parents and students together to be able to communicate and interact efficiently with the community.

“One of the most powerful things was when a parent who attend my classes told me that they are excited to start being able to help their child with their homework,” said Chelsea Mixon, an ENL Teacher at the school.

These ENL classes are one of the reasons why the school got one of the highest scores on the latest progress report from the State Education Department.

Dr. Weeks and other eight schools in Syracuse  have been considered “struggling” schools because they were in the bottom percentile of state tests from 2012 to 2015. As “struggling” schools they become part of the state’s receivership process, which is an intervention plan to make strict changes in the structure and organization of the school to improve its performance.

Dr. Weeks met 92 percent of the benchmarks set by the state and school’s leadership team.  Reeve-Larham says that even if the school gets out of the receivership process, it will maintain its community school model.