Maximizing Learning By Meeting Student Needs

Key Takeaway: Offer the most vulnerable populations “whole-child” and family support to maximize learning by meeting students’ basic needs.

Close to 5,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area, according to a local 2017 count. When there’s a struggle to find even the most basic human needs, like shelter and food, education can seem like a luxury. Crete Academy in South Los Angeles is on a mission to change this.

The school is located in one of the most impoverished areas of the city and offers children both academic and wellness opportunities. By understanding the needs of its homeless and low-income student population, Crete Academy targets its services to include things like free transportation, healthcare, and even housing for students and their families.

For academic instruction, the school complements lessons on standard core subjects by teaching life skills and personal attributes like character and responsibility. Teachers also use the ThinkLaw program to teach students critical thinking and problem-solving skills used in the justice field. Crete believes that developing these skills and attributes is imperative to being a successful, educated person in the 21st century.

Crete Academy values wellness just as much as academics. While the school aims to provide a challenging academic environment that will prepare its students for college and careers, it recognizes the importance of first meeting students’ basic needs to maximize learning. Crete supports the well-being of homeless children by giving them access to physical health exams, dental cleanings, and onsite mental health resources.

Crete partners with local universities and nonprofits to offer these wraparound services. This allows medical, dental, and counseling students at universities to get practical experience while meeting students’ needs. The school also assigns a case worker to each student, and offers workshops on resume-writing and interviewing to help parents succeed in the workforce.

While Crete Academy is a relatively new school, its success could have it serve as a model for other schools looking to tackle the homeless crisis.

Click here to learn more about Crete Academy.

Sarah Hamshari
Sarah HamshariEngagement Manager
Sarah Hamshari, Engagement Manager at Safal Partners Inc., draws upon her background in research and policy to provide rigorous qualitative research and writing support. She leads the development of high-quality content to help clients achieve greater impact in the education field.