Dozens of families — some three generations deep — packed the auditorium at Tyson Elementary School for an open house Tuesday night.
Parents had the chance to tour their children’s classrooms and speak to their teachers, learning about the school’s progress and plans for the coming year.
“We’re a family,” said Jessica Palacios, the school’s family services coordinator.
She said the family is a little bit smaller this year: After a fire on Meyer Street gutted a 38-unit apartment building last fall, Palacios said many Tyson students were displaced by the flames and ended up moving away, enrolling in new schools in other parts of town. Even then, she remembers how the school and its business partners came together to gather donations and host fundraisers for the Meyer Street families. At Tyson, Palacios said, every hand helps.
School business partners — including neighborhood names like the Anchorage Community Land Trust, Credit Union 1, Mountain View Family Dentistry and the Mountain View Lions Club — play a big role at Tyson. Tuesday, a volunteer from the local bank served hotdogs in the auditorium while other school business partners chatted with families from booths set up in the hall outside.
During dinner, parents watched a brief slideshow and a presentation by Principal John Kito. This year, school staff said, teachers will place an extra focus on math skills.
According to the Alaska School Performance Index, Tyson has made big gains over the past two years.
During the 2012-13 academic year, the school had an overall score of 78. Only 57 percent of students tested were proficient in reading, 61 percent were proficient in writing and 59 percent were proficient in math. Last year — the 2013-14 school year — teachers and students were able to bump the overall ASPI score to 89.
Reading proficiency increased to 74 percent, writing to 78 percent and math to 67 percent. Those improvements earned rounds of applause at Tuesday night’s open house. School staff said they aim to continue the upward trend this year.
And Palacios said she has another hope for the school year at Tyson.
“My goal is to bring in more families,” she said, surveying the auditorium.
When families become involved in their children’s educations, she said, things can only get better.