Oceanside CA– The benefits of technology, dedicated teachers and staff were on display, last week, at Laurel Elementary School in Oceanside. State Assemblyman, Rocky Chavez joined a tour, with Vanir Foundation Board members, of the schools classrooms to see demonstrations of technology integration. The Vanir Foundation was visiting Laurel Elementary School to promote their educational partnership with the school.
The Vanir Foundation was set up in Memory of H. Frank Dominguez, and dedicated to partnering with schools in under-served communities by meeting basic needs and promoting achievement in math, science and the language arts. The vision of the foundation is to create “pathways to success” by improving the learning environment.
Keith Boyd, teacher in the Special Education Services, at Laurel, said “Play Therapy is one of the hot topics in education right now” continued Boyd “Learning how to play can teach the very young so much more than even scholastic exercises. We can embed the scholastic’s but getting those play skills down gets the students brains wired the right way, makes those connections.”
Boyd’s students are labeled moderate to severe and range in grades from kindergarten to second. “We can’t know what the seeds we plant into these kids will blossom into.” said Boyd “So if we provide the kids with these opportunities, the supplemental education tools, who knows what will come of that.”
iPads have become an important tool in enhancing the skills of not only the special education students, but in classrooms throughout the school.
First graders are using the iPads in a Summer Intervention class to help improve their communication skills. The tablets are being used to teach science, music and art for all grades.
An iPad was used for a conference call with one of the people instrumental in obtaining material for the schools robotics class, Diallo Wallace. An El Camino High School grad, Wallace spoke to the tour group from China Lake, via Skype, where he is currently deployed.
Laurel Elementary School Principal, Freddie Chavarria is enthusiastic about the partnership with Vanir and has been invaluable in acquiring outside resources for the students in the school.
Chavarria is new to the school as the Principal but he is no stranger to the school. Chavarria is one of the success stories of students who have gone through the north Oceanside school.
“The people at this school showed me how to become a success.” said Chavarria.
The area is known for gang related trouble and Chavarria related a story about a recent student. “I had to expel a student at different, near-by school. Now he’s facing life in prison for killing a rival gang member, stabbing him in the heart. I don’t want to lose another kid.”
Chavarria believes using the outside resources available is important but even more important is the involvement of the students parents in the education process of the kids. Chavarria has set up several programs for parents to stay involved in the school.
The Vanir Foundation provides schools with programs aimed at closing the achievement gap. Through the Foundation’s Ambassador Program, each school has a team of volunteers who assist with the execution of our programs at each site. “Through our efforts, we provide funding and grant money for programs at each school.”
Some of the work Vanir does includes:
- Academic Intervention: tutoring, reading buddies, purchase of books and language arts, math, science and financial literacy programs
- Performance Incentives: purchase of supplies for the school stores and graduation awards/stipend money.
- Basic Needs: purchase of required school uniforms or other student clothing.
- Parent Engagement: providing incentives, childcare and materials for parents to encourage participation in parent teacher conferences and involvement in school activities.
- Exploration Activities: field trips, science labs and educational school assemblies.
Notable Accomplishments and Successes for the Vanir partnerships include
- 90% of students in academic intervention programs have increased their grade-level competency
- 86% of students have increased their grade level in math resulting from accelerated math programs
- 87% of parents are involved in their child’s education resulting from parent engagement programs
- 45% reduction of behavioral citation resulting from increased yard safety programs