For our students, their time at Positive Tomorrows is a chance to see they are not alone in facing the challenges of homelessness. All of their peers are also homeless, fostering an environment of understanding that can’t be matched in a traditional public school system. We’ve developed a three-fold approach to tackling those unique challenges.
We’re committed to clearing a path for our students by removing the hurdles they face in developing academically and socially. For most of our students, those hurdles come in three forms:
- Transportation Every day, our students know they can call in with their location, and our bus driver will come get them. For families with limited access to transportation, just getting a child to school can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Our commitment to our students begins with helping them get to their classroom.
- Hunger We’ve all been there. That last class or meeting right before lunch when everyone’s hungry, and it’s impossible to focus on the tasks at hand. For a homeless student, though, this feeling might not be limited to that pre-lunch period. Each of our students qualifies for free meals. Making sure those meals are nutritious and filling helps our students focus their energies on learning, not on worrying about whether they’ll get to eat.
- Basic Needs For most kids, it can be hard to focus on learning math when you’re anxious for gym class. For a homeless child, the challenge is different due to the lack of basic needs. Many homeless children don’t have tennis shoes for gym class, for example. This lack of basic necessities can create worry and anxiety for our students, leaving them with little energy to give to their education. We clear that hurdle by keeping a supply of those basic needs “ clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc. “ at the ready.
Our determination to break the cycle of poverty isn’t just limited to the education we provide. We know that a stable and secure family life will help our students stay on course academically. To foster that stability, we have programs in place to help families find shelter, food, and clothing. With those basic needs met, we help them learn life skills and find jobs, which puts them on the path to stable, independent housing. Stability and self-sufficiency ensure education never has to take a back seat to survival. We know that parental involvement is a key indicator of success, so our family support program offers parents the tools they need to attend school activities. For every school event, we offer transportation to and from the school, a meal, and childcare. These services make it easier for families with limited resources to attend school functions more freely. No parent should have to choose between feeding their children and helping their children excel in school.
We provide the best possible education through the execution of three measures: testing, individual attention, and customized learning plans. Because our students are often behind academically by a year or more, we meet them where they are and work to bring them up to grade level. Our small class sizes (a maximum of 16 students with a teacher and an aide) means our students get personal attention and a path to success designed specifically for them. We equip our classrooms with the tools they need for each student to work on the areas where they require more help, without the fear of being left behind. This process starts with testing our students to identify where they need help. We’re committed to meeting them where they are and clearing a way for them to succeed. Download a copy of the Cognia Executive Summary.
Our day doesn’t end once classroom instruction is over. We keep students at school for a daily after-school program and during school breaks for day camps. We make sure our students experience the arts through hands-on gallery visits, ballet lessons, music lessons, live theatre and more. Students take swimming lessons during our summer break camp, go ice skating during winter break camp, and participate in sports year-round. Homeless students don’t have the resources to participate in Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, so we make that happen at Positive Tomorrows. A wide variety of activities are offered to make sure each child can find a passion and a special activity to look forward to. These extracurricular experiences help students hone skills that lead to long-term success both inside and outside the classroom.