MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Jan. 23, 2009 — In 2004, Westwood Elementary in Manchester, Tenn. received a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CLC) grant to support ELL students and their families, and to foster a positive and connected home-school relationship. The CLC offers programs and opportunities for students to achieve academic success, and for their parents to increase their English language skills and promote school readiness for preschoolers.
“We wrote the grant because we knew we needed to find a way to make our school more accessible to members of our Hispanic community,” said Principal Sandra Morris. “Many parents didn’t feel welcome and were reluctant to engage in activities at school. We wanted to bridge that gap. I would say parent involvement has gone up 400 percent in four years.”
The grant provided funds for a CLC director and interpreter, and a van to provide transportation. In a survey at the center, many parents indicated they wanted to learn English so they could help their children. So, the CLC arranged for Fast ForWord, a family of educational software products designed to accelerate learning by training the brain to process more efficiently, and English classes to be provided for parents.
Parents work on the 100-minute Fast ForWord protocol and then attend English classes. The center offers two levels, beginner and advanced; each meets two mornings weekly.
“It’s not uncommon for parents who work the night shift to bring their children to school and then go to the Fast ForWord lab to do their 100-minute program,” said Morris. “They are very dedicated. Plus, students are so pleased with their parents’ efforts to learn English, which benefits the entire family.”
At the end of each school year, the center holds a Parent Celebration, where plaques and certificates are awarded for parents’ achievements, including the completion of levels in the Fast ForWord program.
In addition to the Fast ForWord program and English classes, the CLC offers several other programs to help parents and students. For example, through the “Circle of Friends” program, junior high and high school students volunteer their time to work with K-6 ELL students at the CLC one day a week after school for reading practice, skill review, homework help or paired reading.
Westwood Elementary also has its own one-on-one tutoring program for ELL students. When teachers identify an ELL student who needs extra help, that student is paired with a high school student who provides skill-specific tutoring one afternoon a week during the school day.
Westwood has seen many positive changes among ELL students and parents, including:
* An expanded English vocabulary
* Improved student attendance
* Increased parent involvement in school activities
* A rise in self-esteem
* Increased reading at home
“We are now a successful school academically,” said Morris. “We are a school that makes AYP. We make all ‘A’s’ in our Academic Achievement and Value Added grades.”
“Parents are so much more comfortable and confident coming into the school building,” continued Morris. “Plus, the younger children who regularly attend our Community Learning Center are more prepared for preschool and adjust well to their classes. One of the neatest things I’ve experienced is watching the expressions on the faces of children who come to the Fast ForWord lab with their parents. They are so proud.”
About Westwood Elementary School
Due to its record of achievement, rigorous curriculum and activities offered to students, Westwood has been recognized twice as a National Title I Distinguished School, and twice as a Tennessee Title I Distinguished School.
About Scientific Learning Corporation
Scientific Learning creates educational software that accelerates learning by improving the processing efficiency of the brain. The patented Fast ForWord® family of products provides struggling readers with computer-delivered interventions and intensive exercises that build the cognitive skills required to read and learn effectively. Based on more than 30 years of neuroscience and cognitive research, the Fast ForWord products apply patented technology and validated neuroscience principles of brain plasticity to help children, adolescents, and adults improve processing efficiency and achieve enduring gains. The efficacy of the products and the science behind them has been confirmed by more than 425 research studies and publications. For more information, visit www.scientificlearning.com and www.brainconnection.com, or call toll-free 888-452-7323.
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