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Mutually Inclusive
A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

West Elementary: A day in a community school

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It was 8:30 in the morning on the second day of school at West Elementary in Wyoming, Michigan and the students were already lining up outside the school building waiting for their teachers. That morning it was one of Erika Vandyke’s job to guarantee all 540 children made it to their classrooms. 

Vandyke is the Kent School Services Network Coordinator for West Elementary in Wyoming, Her job, although not simple, is to be a resource and a connection point. 

“Their teachers might send them down if they need school supplies, so we get them school supplies, they might need a backpack if they don't have a backpack. Or if their backpack breaks, I do a lot of backpack repairs and just replacing at the end of the year.” 

You might be wondering what being a bridge is like for VanDyke, well in short, it really is just as simple as answering a phone call from a worried parent. 

“So like the mom that called me earlier, she, her kid is in kindergarten, she is a Spanish speaking mom, and she just wants to check on her kid. Like she didn’t have a specific question, she’s just like, “you know it’s the second day of school and I am just worried. Can you just check on her and make sure she’s okay?””

At West Elementary, 80 percent of the students live at or below the poverty line, which for a family of four in Michigan is $24,250 dollars per year, according to data from Michigan School Count. 

“Its important to me that she and other moms like her have the ability to call someone that they trust that they know will look out for their kid and that cares for their kid.”  

Ultimately, through a community school model, schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.

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