The school’s principal, some students, and their families
attended a reception held at the dealership where a giant check
was presented to the school for whatever purposes it deems. The
kids posed for pictures holding the giant check. The reception
also included food, refreshments, and a DJ.
and her son Dan Barboza ran a promotion during Hispanic
Heritage Month where they would donate $100 for every new car
and $50 for every used car the pair sold during that time
period. Taylor Family dealerships rounded out the
donation to a total of $2,500.
“I’ve always been involved in the community and I’m always about
giving back, helping in any way possible,” said Ms. Sánchez.
“Since we do a lot of work with TPS, I wanted to select a TPS
school. Since this is the first year Escuela SMART is under
their umbrella, what a better way to start than with Escuela
Principal Jessica Molina Kuhlman
admitted there are no formal plans on what to do with the money
yet, although some may be used for staff recognition. She stated
students are lobbying to get the school staff to buy keyboards
to give them something to do during their lunch hour. The timing
is interesting, because Escuela will begin a band program next
semester for sixth graders.
“We’ve taken a tour of a different school before and that’s what
they did there, so I think maybe that’s where they got the
idea,” said Ms. Kuhlman, pointing out the other school had a
variety of musical instruments students could play if they
finished their lunch early.
Ms. Sánchez stated the donation is the first of a quarterly
effort to help Latino and community groups, so there will be
three more such donations made in 2020. Word has quickly spread.
“We’ve had quite a few letters come in already, why we should
consider their organizations next year,” said Ms. Sánchez, who
plans to open the letters after the New Year to select the
spring recipient. “I know it’s important to help organizations
that don’t have a lot of funding or still have a need. That’s
why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
“We’ve been in the news quite a lot lately, so I think it’s just
the positive press that’s getting the word out about our school
and having people want to get involved in some way,” said the
principal, while pointing out the Taylor Hyundai donation
was “completely unsolicited.”
“I wish we could have given more, but it was a decent
contribution for our first check,” said Ms. Sánchez, who will
soon celebrate her 65th birthday. “Everybody wants
your money, but nobody wants to give back. I’m not about that.
It’s not all about just making money.”
Ms. Kuhlman called the funding critical support, as the K-6
student body currently numbers 280 students, far above TPS
projections of 220-230 students at the beginning of the academic
year. Those numbers don’t even include the preschool which also
operates there. According to the principal, the school has
attracted out-of-district students from Washington Local,
Sylvania, and Maumee. Some others transferred from charter
“We definitely exceeded expectations,” admitted Ms. Kuhlman. We
have two classrooms in grades K through 4 and then we have one
fifth grade class and one sixth grade class.”
The current kindergarten class is at capacity, but each grade
also saw significant growth over last year, when Escuela SMART
was a charter school. Word of mouth between families is being
credited for the significant growth and interest from suburban
families. The school also employs a family outreach coordinator
who attends a lot of community events.
“It’s going really great. Honestly, I feel like the kids are so
much better off in the facility we have now. I feel like our
teachers are much better off, too,” said Ms. Kuhlman. “They have
access to more resources and more support. It’s a good year.
It’s a learning year. It’s definitely a transition year, lots
for us to learn, being a part of a big district. But everything
is going very smoothly, considering that fact.”
Escuela SMART moved from charter school status to public school
at the end of the 2018-19 academic year, as TPS and the school’s
board reached a merger agreement. The students and staff moved
to a former TPS elementary building in the Old South End that
had been used for special-needs students. Those students, in
turn, moved downtown into a former charter school.
The school and its families will celebrate the holiday season
with a family potluck dinner in November and a winter concert in
State senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) also recently
visited the school. That stop is significant, because Sen. Fedor
is a former educator who led the anti-charter school movement at
the Ohio Statehouse and was very vocal about how they are
regulated and measured academically—and she’s visiting a former
charter turned public school.