From the Heart of a Principal in an Urban KCK School

It’s hard to put into words just how much the partnerships with Vida Abundante and Oasis KC have meant to me personally and to Frances Willard School. When we met for the first time, I requested translators for our upcoming parent conferences, and our partners delivered.

Next I asked for a summer reading program because so many of our kids lose ground over the summer. They provided reading and enrichment for kids and English classes for our parents.

As the opening of school approached, I asked for help with weeding our overgrown garden. The Sunday before school started, about 40 volunteers weeded, mulched and rebuilt a garden border.

The list of what we’ve accomplished continues from there, but what’s hard to capture is what it means for the kids and the school community. We are building bridges between the school and the community and strengthening the relationships we have with our parents because we are better able to cross the language barrier that exists between a largely Hispanic student population and a largely English-speaking staff.

The Summer Reading Adventures Program helps keep the kids from forgetting what they learned during the school year. I recently read that as much as half of the achievement gap between students who do well and students living in poverty can be traced to “summer slump,” so this is enormously important.

The kids really like the garden and are learning about how food is grown, how butterflies and birds survive, and what plants will grow where. But my heart soars with joy that’s hard to explain when I see lots of people putting hands and hearts together to improve the community.

My eyes have filled with tears of joy numerous times since we started this partnership. I am looking forward to building on what we’ve already done and working together for years to come.

Principal Sarah Pike
Frances Willard Elementary School
Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools