Good story over at the Times about the heroic efforts on the part of Seattle University to help support Bailey Gatzert Elementary.
In the past year, Seattle University has flooded the Central District's Bailey Gatzert — Seattle's highest-poverty elementary school — with nearly 100 trained student volunteers. The college students help younger children with the most basic of skills and give them after-school enrichment in subjects such as science, chess, literacy and video production.
But that only scratches the surface of an ambitious initiative funded by the private university and aimed at everyone living in the Bailey Gatzert neighborhood. It includes health-care help from nursing students, legal help from law-school students, a full-time coordinator for the school's many assistance programs, and staff and faculty support for many facets of the initiative.
On Monday, Seattle University will receive a top honor for doing so: the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Award, the highest recognition the federal government gives to a college or university for commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Thank you, thank you Seattle University. And, congratulations on your award.
And a shout-out to the former Whittier principal and now principal at B-G, Greg Imel. Greg could have stayed at Whittier but chose to seek out more challenging situations, first at Dunlap and now at B-G. He's quiet but effective and works well with parents. (At least that's my experience.)
Bailey Gatzert has similarly tough statistics. Assessments show entering kindergartners lag about a year behind students elsewhere in the district, and 96 percent are on free- or reduced-price lunch — the highest percentage of any school in Seattle.
More than 40 students are from homeless families, living in shelters or sometimes even cars. Many are the children of refugees from Somalia and other countries, and their parents do not speak English.
Sally Haber, associate director for the university's Center for Service and Community Engagement, noted that Seattle University students have been tutoring Bailey Gatzert students for 20 years. But the initiative has taken the work to a different level: "It's a lot more intentional and focused."