Celebrating each child’s unique gifts, focus on phonics contributes to early literacy success
Story By Art Garcia
When a school is built on a foundation of growth, forgiveness and compassion, there’s nothing students and teachers can’t accomplish together. Those qualities permeate the walls and classrooms of Fort Worth ISD’s Charles E. Nash Elementary.
“It is because of our teachers that we have a family atmosphere and students are learning,” Nash principal Blanca Galindo said of the school on Fort Worth’s north side.
The student body of Nash is diverse. Of the 261 students enrolled during the 2018-19 school year, 69.7% were classified as Hispanic and 18.4% as African American. Texas Education Agency (TEA) projects 48.3% of students as “at-risk” of dropping out of school, 84.7% as economically disadvantaged and 22.6% as limited English proficiency.
The challenges inherent with Nash’s demographics aren’t a deterrent for Galindo and her staff for building trust with students. During her six years as principal, a focus on phonics in kindergarten and the younger grades has made a difference in reading levels, along with delivering grade-level structured instruction and small group instruction.
“Those are high-leverage practices which assist students to learn,” said Galindo, who’s worked in FWISD for 12 years. “However, the reason our students are learning is because we first ensure that students’ physiological needs are met and that they have a sense of belonging. When a child feels loved by their teacher, they are able to learn.”
Nash teachers make it a point to develop relationships with students, form partnerships with parents, implement best instructional practices and execute SEL strategies. Teachers’ self-efficacy, according to Galindo, allows them to ensure they are doing what is needed for students’ growth and achievement.
“One of our greatest strengthens is our family atmosphere. It is the collaboration between parents, teachers, staff and our community,” Galindo said. “We all work together to help our students. The proverb, ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child,’ truly exemplifies who we are as a school community.
“Being small gives us the advantage of establishing and maintaining lasting relationships with our students’ family. It allows us to truly meet the child’s various needs and see their gifts. It gives us the advantage of meeting their physiological, social and emotional needs and doing so we are able to reach their minds.”
Galindo also is thankful for the Nash’s several community partners who assist students in various and unique ways. Whether it’s financial and school supply donations, student incentives, boasting teacher morale or providing students with mentors and readers, these community partners help make a difference.
“When you come to Nash there is a spirit of togetherness,” Galindo said. “We are here all working together for the success of our students.”