For just over 11 years, TEACH Public Schools have served the Central and South Los Angeles community. The plan of two retired Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) educators was to create more opportunities to engage the area community in smaller settings.
Not focusing so much on the economic part but more on the needs of families is how these schools were formed, which in recent times have been serving even the newly arrived immigrant communities, mainly from Central America.
Luis Ramírez, director of recruitment and engagement at TEACH, said what makes schools successful is the individual attention given to students and their families.
“That is what I call a classification conversation between the school, the parents and the students and if we are not aware of that, then it is very difficult to have these conversations every day even in the classroom,” said Ramírez.
All three schools are along Western Avenue. The elementary school serves pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, the middle school serves grades five through eight, and the high school serves grades nine through 12.
There are currently more than 1,000 families with children in TEACH schools of which more than 65% are Latino. There has also been an increase in the number of newly arrived Central American students, mainly in middle and high school.
Ramírez said that although the school distributes flyers and participates in community fairs to promote its services, good word of mouth is always the best recommendation.
The principal said they take pride in several existing clubs that are started by the same dedicated students sharing like-minded interests.
He added that many students feel comfortable participating both in the academic schedule and in extracurricular classes. Some of them have come to TEACH schools fleeing from schools where they feel they are being harassed.
“And it’s important to point that out because for kids in particular, there’s a lot of bullying that happens in communities, mostly because of gangs that exist in a particular area, so clubs and sports have been key components of our school.” Ramirez said.
Sports focused on high school students, such as basketball or soccer, are the main ones that keep them busy and to some extent safe after school.
There are also special intellectual property programs, special art classes that work with community nonprofits, and more.
Additionally, the school has a program called All Stars which promotes after school programming until 6 pm. And for some students even transportation is included for free.
All Stars is estimated to serve 150 elementary students and about 200 high school students.
Covid has changed the scenario
Ramírez said that with the return to in-person classes after two years of covid-19, there was a decrease in student attendance. He indicated that although online education they were able to handle practically well, when it was time to return to in-person classes many students no longer lived in the area.
“A large number of families have moved but simply decided to stay on their home campus during virtual classes. So now that they’re back in the classroom of course they’re in different schools,” Ramírez said. “And that’s where the percentage of students has increased from moving, so there are fewer students within a given population of schools.”
Ramírez said he understands that the economy has often led families to leave homes they rented.
“Families are losing jobs because of this global problem that we’re having, they can’t stay where they were staying and they have to move,” Ramírez said.
However, TEACH schools take pride in their academic curriculum and their high school record of over 80% college acceptance. They also collaborate with Southwest Community College to offer college courses to students who are in their last year of high school.
To learn more about schools visit https://www.teachps.org/