Title One school going the extra mile

Teachers, staff at Jacksonville Heights Elementary getting students excited

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In Duval County, out of 183 schools, 86 of them are Title One schools that are trying to bridge the gap between low income and other students.

Jacksonville Heights Elementary on the Westside is one of them, with 82 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunches.

It's a community effort getting students to come to school.

In an effort to not disregard the extra social challenges some students may face outside the classroom, teachers, staff and volunteers go the extra mile getting them excited for the new school year.

In the days leading up to the first day of school teachers and staff at Jacksonville Heights Elementary took a day off from preparing lesson plans and setting up classrooms.

"We have collected some school supplies for our students and we wanted to get our school year off to a great start so we've taken those supplies and divied out to nice little goodie bags and we're doing a walking school field trip today," Jacksonville Heights Principal Kimberly Harrison said.

Surprising students at their homes with new school supplies, teachers also reminded parents about open house and the first day of school.

"It's always positive and the parents are really excited to see us and we try to wear our school shirts so they can say oh goodness look at the Jacksonville Heights people coming down the street," Harrison said. "I think it just lets the community know how much we really care and how much we are here for the kids."

Also along for the walking field trip were mentors from Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

"We started working with them. We made a difference last year and we really want to work to get this school up to par and to where it needs to be as far as mentors and kids with students," said Tyronda Brown who is stationed at NAS Jax. "Because we know a lot of children here that have either academic issues or emotional issues or maybe they don't have everything they need and we want to help provide it."

More than a dozen mentors stationed at NAS Jax volunteer their time at the school weekly, working with classes and also one on one with students.

"I choose to work with the kids because whenever I was a little kid, I kind of wish I had someone to look up to and a lot of these kids don't have anybody," said Megan Price who is stationed at NAS Jax.

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