I have been the principal of Highland Elementary School for the past 8 years. I lead a school in which 99% of our students are on Free or Reduced Lunch and all but a handful of students are either immigrants or children of immigrants. Our school has the 2nd highest homeless population in the area. The native tongue of the majority of our students is Kanjobal, an unwritten, Native American language found mainly in Guatemala. From the very beginning of my term here at Highland, we realized that in order to level the playing field for our students we must build our family/early childhood education program. We are determined to do just that. Our long range plan is to provide an education to all 2-4 year olds and their families in our section of the City of Lake Worth.
Through our Bridges Program at Highland, we take a “whole family” approach to early childhood education. We believe that we must not only educate the child in our Pre-K program, but we must also address the needs of the entire family in order to ensure that the gains we make in Pre-K are sustained over time. Our belief is that if the family’s needs are met, the parents can better participate as their children’s educations high school. Therefore our Bridges Program works with families to ensure that they have shelter, food, medical care, parenting skills, knowledge of our educational system, GED and ESOL classes for parents and older siblings, mentors for older siblings as well as a quality Pre-K education (starting at age 2).