To help kids thrive in school, the first step is to make sure their basic needs are met at home.
That is especially true for students coming to a new school, a new environment and sometimes even a new country. On Tuesday, November 14, the Westminster community followed the lead of the Westminster Public Schools Foundation to host an open house at the Daniel C. Vallez Family Education Center. The center opened this past summer to support families in need and connect them with available resources.
The need is great and growing.
So far this year, the number of new families in Westminster Public Schools is more than 220, far ahead of last year’s total number of 150, with the number expected to climb in the months ahead. Students come to WPS from across the world, but this year the district is seeing the most students from Venezuela and Mexico.
With that in mind, the Foundation joined the district in creating an open house just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Foundation asked for cash contributions as well as for community members to donate winter clothing to help families who have never experienced snow and cold.
The response was overwhelming.
More than $6,000 was donated and many WPS families searched their closets to find winter clothes they no longer needed.
Helping families get settled is the first step. The next step is to support their students in the classroom. At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, district leaders briefed the board on its programs and policies to help “newcomers” to the district. It’s a comprehensive approach that takes advantage of the district’s Competency Based System (CBS) where students are evaluated on an individual basis.
No single student arrives in the district with the exact same skills sets as another child and CBS allows educators to place students in the right class room or program.
CBS4 Denver spent the day at the open house and you can view their story here: