Building More Affordable Housing Nearby (Mareesa Nicosia)
Mareesa Nicosia is a senior reporter at The 74. This post appeared December 4, 2016
This post offers another way to improve schooling for minority and poor children that acknowledges the strong links between neighborhood, housing, social services, and academic progress in schools. Patterned on a charter school in Atlanta, Kennedy Elementary School in Omaha needs not only additional funds (which they are receiving from donors) bu also a holistic (and generous) vision of what schools serving children of color require.
Class doesn’t start until 8 a.m. at Howard Kennedy Elementary School, but students line up an hour early every day, intent on getting in the doors in time for breakfast.
That’s how it’s been since school started in August, when Principal Tony Gunter poked his head out the front door around 7 a.m. and was startled to see a few dozen students standing on the steps, itching to get inside.
They’ve waited every morning since, Gunter told The 74 in a recent interview, until the doors open and staff welcomes them warmly inside, trading handshakes and high-fives as music courses through the halls.
Not long ago, though, there was little enthusiasm from students, their families — and staff, for that matter. The pre-K–5 school is located in North Omaha’s Highlander neighborhood, for decades one of the poorest, most segregated and