Sent: January 3, 2022
Westside Elementary School is a model of inclusion
SR Marmon combines general education, Indian education, special needs education, dual language, English language development, enrichment and gifted education programs.
Note: Employees who support New Mexico lawmakers attended schools as they prepared for the 2022 legislature. We introduce some of the APS schools and programs you have heard about.
Inclusion, diversity and family participation are at the heart of an APS primary school’s mission to make a difference.
“I think when you walk through the door you should feel welcome and at home here,” says María Cordero-Lujan, principal of the Susie Rayos Marmon Primary School, “not just for our employees and students but also for the families and everyone who walks through the door. I believe in the family atmosphere. “
The school on the West Side of Albuquerque has 536 students and a variety of programs. SR Marmon is a rare inclusion model for its size, spanning general education, Indian education, special needs education, dual language, English language development, and enrichment and talent programs. It’s also a focal point for students from the Social Emotional Support Services (SESS), which attracts students from across the district who need a little more support in developing self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills.
Some people might expect the students to be somewhat subdivided according to their respective programs, but SR Marmon takes a different approach.
“It is very important to us that they are all integrated and that they all have and share the same opportunities,” says Cordero-Lujan. “I want to continue the mix of students. Some of our SESS kiddos move into the general population because they have learned to regulate their emotions and behavior. Having this peer mentorship with one another has been incredibly beneficial. “
Dr. Antonio Gonzalez, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Learning for Zone 2, says, “The goal is to get some of our students out of SESS and I think if there is one example of a school that does that well, it is the SR Marmon. If you enter a SESS classroom and cannot tell the difference between SESS and giftedness, you are looking for something. “
The familiar atmosphere of headmaster Cordero-Lujan goes beyond the typical dynamics between teachers and students or teachers and parents and often beyond the regular school hours. “We have several employees who are parents of our students and also live in the community,” she says. “We hold monthly family-oriented events to ensure that there is something that brings families in, welcomes them and makes them part of the academic part of their students’ lives. Every month we try to do something that is fun for the family, but also academically oriented. “
Diversity, inclusion and family involvement are part of SR Marmon’s recipe for success, as is the use of restorative practices in schools. Restorative practices are used to improve and repair relationships in the classroom and school, usually through moderated dialogues that provide insightful perspectives for all parties and opportunities for atonement.
“This school was a trailblazer and a pioneer that goes back perhaps five years in the model of the student success center around the practice of restorative justice,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “This school has been visited by other elementary schools several times over the years to see the school’s approach to restorative practices: full service for these students, alternatives to suspension for these students. The approach used was something that overlaps with the SESS program, but also for the general population. “
“We try to do what is in the best interests of the children,” adds Dr. Gonzalez added. “I think what we as a school district can do in this context is to provide dynamic, comprehensive, and in-depth support to students with a wide range of needs in a very meaningful way.”