In a recent conversation with Delaware District Councilman Joel Feroleto, I asked him what he felt was one of the more exciting projects manifesting in his district. He told me the conversion of North Park Academy on the corner of Tacoma and Parkside into a community school was one project that he was most looking forward to. “Starting this fall it will be a pre-k to 8 (currently a 5-8 grade) with 80% of students coming from neighborhood. I think this will help property values in North Buffalo because parents with young children will want to live in that neighborhood so they can send their kids to that school.”
This is a education scenario that is most interesting for a number of reasons. Incredibly, less than a dozen students live within .7 miles from the school, with most students coming from all across the city. The idea behind a community school is to have a facility that parents can readily engage with, because it is located in their neighborhood. That means that the programming will be stronger, attendance will be better, and there is an overall strengthened connection to the school. The goal was to see half of the students attending the school coming from the surrounding neighborhood. That goal has been profoundly exceeded.
Once the transition occurs, the programming will be aligned with “life and environmental science theme” in coordination with the Buffalo Zoo. The close proximity to The Zoo is another key ingredient to the success of the school. By utilizing the neighborhood’s collective strengths, the students, teachers, and parents will have a new sense of empowerment.
It will be interesting to see how this new orchestration evolves in years to come. No matter where a school is located in Buffalo, there will always be advantages when it is located near to the families that it serves. By creating better learning environments through stronger programming, while counting on enhanced involvement from parents, the school will naturally evolve into a healthier learning ground that is the pride of the community.