Community Exploration Project . By: Andrea Magana. Percentage of Students that are Economically Disadvantaged: 90.7%. * Scottwood Elementary: 2 out of 10 State Indicators Met Performance Index: 81.2 School’s Designation: Continuous Improvement.
By: Andrea Magana
* Scottwood Elementary:
2 out of 10 State Indicators Met
Performance Index: 81.2
School’s Designation: Continuous Improvement
Percentage of students that are Limited English Proficient: 20.9%
Percentage of residents living below poverty level: 10%
I was surprised to see that the ethnic make-up of the community was quite different from Scottwood Elementary’s make-up. 76% of Scottwood’s students are African American, whereas only 50% of the community is African American. Also, the economically disadvantaged rate at Scottwood is 90% whereas the community as a whole has only 10% living below the poverty line. Also, in my school there are only a handful of kids living with both their biological mother and father; the majority of the students that I have spoken with live in single parent households or with another relative. As a community I was surprised to learn that only 20% of the households are female headed without a husband. I would like to see a map of how they draw the lines for the school, because it seems like they grouped all of the minorities and economically disadvantaged people in the same area. Something seems off to me if 43% of the community is Caucasian, yet only 4% of the school is Caucasian.
On the 20th of November from 4:30-6:30pm I visited the Livingston Branch Library. The library is just down the street from Scottwood Elementary School, on the city’s east side.
On the 22nd of November from 11:30-1:00 pm I attended a church service at New Birth Christian Ministries, which is not far from Scottwood Elementary. There are a few students from the school who attend this church.
On the 23rd of November from 4:00-5:30 pm I jogged through the school’s surrounding neighborhood. It was frigid outside, and was too cold to take a leisurely walk.
The observation that sticks out the most to me was seeing how many people were at the library. There was literally an 1 ½ hour wait for the computers, and virtually all of the resources offered at the library were being used. It was encouraging to see so many students participating in the after-school tutoring programs. Elementary age to teenagers, middle age and even senior citizens were all there, and the majority were relaxing and reading books or using the computers. I know that many of my students do not have computers at home, and the library is their only access to one.
The place that I interacted the most with persons in the community was at church. This was not my first time at the church, so I did not feel too out of my comfort zone. I have been to a few predominately black churches, so this experience was not a culture shock for me. No matter what age range someone is interacting with, I think that being friendly and relaxed is always important when experiencing any culture that is not one’s own. It is only natural to become tense and standoffish when we are out of our comfort zone, but it is important to keep an open mind and positive attitude. Learning experiences are always helpful, and the more someone is immersed in another culture, the more he or she will start to feel comfortable and familiar with it.
My experiences in the community have been very insightful, and my advice to anyone who may work in this area someday is to immerse themselves in the community as much as possible. The children are great to work with, and the parents truly care for their kids even if they are not able to be present for every school function. There is a high poverty and crime rate in the area, but these are the children that need high quality teachers the most. The kids need teachers who believe in them and set high expectations for them. The children must be taught how to be resilient in the face of obstacles if they are to ever escape the cycle of poverty that their parents have fallen victim to for many years.
The most meaningful part of this experience was being able to see many of my students outside of the classroom environment. I saw a number of my students at the library when I went after school, and it was very encouraging to see they were making the effort to get their homework done. Some of the students that I talked to said that their mom makes them go to the library to do their homework or else they’ll be put “on punishment”. This shows me that the parents really do care even if they are not able to be involved in many of the school functions. I also saw a few of my students at church with their families, and it was interesting to watch how they interacted with their parents. It is always nice to see students interacting with their loved ones outside of the school setting.
My initial thoughts and perceptions of the community did not change after doing this project, because I have been familiar with this area for quite some time. I have two good friends who live in the surrounding area, and we have walked in and around the neighborhood many times. When I was in high school my friends and I would go up to the Barnett Recreation Center near Scottwood and watch the boys play basketball. I am familiar with many of the surrounding restaurants such as Bruce Lee’s Dragon Restaurant and M&M Chicken and Fish. From this experience I realized that I would really like to work in or near this neighborhood someday. I like the area and feel very comfortable in it, and the people I have come into contact with are very kind and accepting. This experience has also showed me that I can work in any type of environment that I am put in.
I have had experience in all types of settings, and am confident in my abilities to handle any challenges that accompany the students and their community.
If I were to do anything differently next time, it would be to speak with more people who live in the neighborhood. It would be interesting to go around from house to house and ask people their thoughts on the community. I would like to know their opinions on crime in the area, job opportunities, community programs, and other hallmarks of the area. It would be especially interesting to get the opinions of older residents of the community. I have noticed that a lot of the students in my school are being raised by their grandparents, and I would like to know their opinion on the community and the amount of support they feel they receive from the school.