by Danielle Lankford
Guadalupe Developmental Assistant
The community partnership between United Way of Salt Lake and Guadalupe School is a perfect match – because, we too, are committed to changing the odds. Our school is comprised of five unique programs, each aimed at fighting the cycle of poverty through educational resources. Here are five ways that Guadalupe School is Changing the Odds for kids and families in our community.
We understand that unfortunately, children growing up in poverty often miss more school days, struggle to make good grades, are less likely to go to college or vocational school, and as a consequence, are less likely to break the cycle of poverty as adults. Realizing that immigrants and their children are especially prone to these issues, our founder, Suzanne Weiss, began an experiment in 1966. What she discovered was that incredibly positive outcomes could be achieved if these specific community members, from all walks of life, had access to quality education. Now, nearly fifty years later, with all five programs under one roof, Guadalupe School is still proving that changing the odds is far from impossible.
ONE: It may seem as though the early childhood programs would have been the logical place to start with Guadalupe School, but actually, it was the Adult Education program that came first. When it began, it offered an inviting meeting place for adult immigrants, dedicated to learning English, in order to better their lives. Now in 2015, under the direction of Kate Brainerd, Adult Education has the capacity to change the odds for 300 adults who want to learn or improve their English for their career, to be a better advocate for their children, or simply to be more integrated in the community. Our adult students can attend classes during the day or evening, and have access to committed volunteer tutors. Brainerd says her students constantly remind her that “hard work can compensate for lost time, education, and opportunity.”
TWO: After spending time with adult immigrants, Weiss became aware that the odds were stacked against their children in regards to education and opportunity. To combat this, the Guadalupe Charter School was formed. The Charter School has a small student/teacher ratio, to ensure each child gets as much individualized instruction as possible. Our teachers are educated professionals who are dedicated to the mission. Sixth grade teacher, Mits Bryant, calls his fellow teachers “compassionate and hardworking” and his students “enthusiastic” about learning. THREE: The sixth grade was just added to the charter school when we moved into our new building in the Fall of 2014. The expansion gives Guadalupe School the opportunity to reach even more families in the community, and to ensure even more children get to middle school, high school, and beyond with a strong foundation of essential learning skills.
FOUR: In an effort to give our students the best odds possible from the very start, the Early Learning Center was added in 1992. The ELC is comprised of our In-Home, Toddler Beginnings, and Preschool programs. The In-Home program provides support to parents of infants and pre-toddlers who may otherwise not have any. When it comes to these very early stages of life, normal development and quality care are essential. That is why parent educators perform weekly visits to make sure babies are growing into happy, healthy toddlers.
FIVE: The next stage of early education is our Toddler Beginnings program, which is a literacy-based enrichment program. Toddlers attend five days a week, in order to become acquainted with a school-like atmosphere, to interact with other children, and most importantly engage in early math and reading activities. At age three, toddlers move on to preschool, where “play” based learning is the emphasis. Our preschool curriculum is also vertically aligned with our charter school, so when the children move on to Kindergarten, they have all the skills necessary for success.
Together, all the ELC programs give families access to top-notch child development programs at no cost at the ages when enrichment is most important. This early intervention allows Guadalupe School to help change the odds before they are even stacked.
Guadalupe School is proud to stand with United Way of Salt Lake’s commitment to changing the odds, because we know it can be done with hard work. With so many programs making positive strides toward ending the cycle of poverty, we are always reminded that it is never too early, nor too late, to make a difference.