Since the beginning of the school year, Dominique Bell, a special education teacher at Ánimo City of Champions Charter High School, has reminded her students of two things: She has high expectations for each and every student and will always support them on their educational paths. Now in its third year, Ánimo City of Champions has already seen significant growth and academic achievement, a result of high quality instruction and a commitment to meeting students where they are.
“I know that every student has it in them to be successful if they're putting forth that effort,” said Bell. At Green Dot we know that when students with special needs are not exposed to the same academic rigor as their peers, they are not receiving the equitable education they deserve. It’s why special education teachers like Bell provide their students with personalized support and accommodations to meet their needs, but ensure that they are challenged and expected to meet the same rigorous standards as all students.
On a day-to-day basis, Bell and her colleagues monitor students' reading and math performance; provide hands-on support in general education classes; and encourages students to self-advocate. “They know their accommodations and they're able to just feel empowered when they go into any classroom,” Bell said. “I'm looking forward to seeing my juniors grow into seniors and having that opportunity to apply to colleges.”
It’s All About the Students
What’s Bell’s secret for creating rigorous and equitable coursework? Planning and collaboration. Bell is always “creating opportunities for the students to talk to each other and looking for opportunities to make adjustments to the curriculum.” She also encourages inclusivity and connection on her campus. “I love being a part of the sunshine on campus and so just making sure that everybody feels welcomed,” Bell added.
At Ánimo City of Champions, special education teachers, the school’s psychologist, and general education teachers work closely together to support the development of inclusive learning environments in every classroom. Through regular coaching, curriculum support, and weekly professional development opportunities, Bell and her colleagues have been able to understand the unique challenges students face and develop systems to remove barriers to student learning.
In three short years, the school has become a close knit family guided by the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are proud of the culture of excellence our high school has created in the Inglewood community. “At Ánimo City of Champions every student deserves a champion,” said Cen’Cere Cooks, principal at Ánimo City of Champions.