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Escuela SMART Bilingual Academy receives $2,500 donation

By La Prensa Staff

Escuela SMART Bilingual Academy received an unexpected monetary gift on Nov. 4, 2019 from a pair of Latino auto sales staff from Taylor Hyundai, 12681 Eckel Junction Rd. in Perrysburg.


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.

Melinda Sánchez 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 SMART.”

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 schools.

“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 December.

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.

On theInternet:  https://www.wtol.com/article/news/education/escuela-smart-academy-tps-first-bi-lingual-school-opening-for-upcoming-school-year/512-9f2c5a0f-cd38-4233-bdbd-3e8c1c9f9800



Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/19/19 20:21:41 -0800.




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