Situated against the east foothills of San Jose, lies Laurelwood Elementary School. A beautifully landscaped school built in 1971, our school is tucked in at the end of a cozy middle class neighborhood of ranch houses surrounding the magnificent property with views of Mount Hamilton to the east. Laurelwood is home to 342 students, one special day class, and three county special needs classes. Being small has its strengths and challenges. The greatest strength and pride is the tight knit community we serve. We know our families well and they know us as an integral part of the community. Laurelwood is a hub for a myriad of student and community activities. During the school day, the office is a revolving door for our diverse parent and community volunteers. In the afternoons and evenings, students and families can be seen on campus taking art courses, participating in sports programs, attending movie and education nights, as well as, other community sponsored events.
As the economy changes, so does our community. Our attendance is unique as we serve multiple demographics. Students in the surrounding neighborhood of working middle-class well-established track homes have the ability to walk to school. Just south of Laurelwood is a newer medium density housing tract of townhomes. South of that is a larger neighborhood of newer homes that have recently had great turnover. We have a healthy mix of long-time residents, many of whom are retired and are caring for their grandchildren who attend Laurelwood. While we have many young established single-family households, we also have many residents who have rented space, creating multiple family dwellings. Our demographic population is comprised of Hispanic (31%) American Indian (3%), Asian (43%), African American (9%), Filipino (3%), and White (13%). Our population speaks over 10 languages. Twenty-three percent of our students are EL and 24% are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Our community, which includes our staff, is an important extension of our school. We have been fortunate to maintain a long-time K-6 teaching and itinerant staff who are passionate about the community they serve. Additionally, we have a half-time resource specialist, psychologist, and speech therapist. Our nurse is here one day every other week to address health concerns that arise with our students. Our part time art and music teachers also add to our family. Many of our staff is proud to say that their homes lie within the Laurelwood boundaries or within the greater Evergreen community. This deep commitment to the community and the school, Laurelwood staff has established longstanding relationships with our parents. There is a friendly, trusting, positive rapport and support for the academic rigor and our students’ experience at Laurelwood. This continues to foster a healthy appreciation for learning and student achievement.
Not only is this collaborative culture evident between our teachers, opportunities to collaborate and share ideas exist with our extended community partnerships. Together with input from our parents, community, PTA, School Site Council (SSC), ELAC, we share and discuss regularly how we can support our classrooms and work toward continually improving our students’ achievement. As discussed in the Blue Print for Great Schools, strong schools meet the needs of the whole child and Laurelwood’s “village” supports the needs of all learners. In the last three years, our parents have, through donation, SSC, fundraising, book fair, and matching grants supported the commitment to 21st century learning by equipping each classroom with a document camera and projector. Our book fair, SSC and PTA has supported the implementation of integrated whiteboards, known as SMARTBoards. Currently, the majority of our classrooms use SMARTBoards to enhance instruction and work to meet the needs of all learners, as well as, provide another avenue for our targeted students, such as Hispanic, ELs, and socioeconomically disadvantaged gain greater opportunities for differentiated access. We currently have two iPad carts, two Chromebook carts, and at least 6 iPads/Chromebooks in every classroom to support the instructional needs.
It is expected that within the next two years, each classroom will have more access to technology in the classroom. Our SSC meet regularly to discuss data results, new ideas, parent education nights, along with cultural assemblies, field trips, etc. that develop and enhance the learning of the whole child. Funding comes from parent donation, PTA donations, matching grants and our SPSA. Based on our current trend in increased student achievement, our extended support and involved families have a positive effect on student achievement and this supports the research that student success has a direct impact on involved families and communities. The trusting collaborative partnership we have forged with our community contributes to acquiring successful high quality instructional strategies and resources that are helping to close the achievement gap at Laurelwood.