On a recent Wednesday morning, Excel Public School’s front office is bustling–several students pass through on their way back from an awards breakfast, a parent inquires about purchasing more uniforms, and another student needs to call home for a forgotten assignment. Quarterbacking all these requests is Office Coordinator Jessica Youmans.
Youmans is also the parent of Excel students Nick and Ty. Excel has been the perfect fit for her sons, now in eighth and ninth grades, respectively. She enrolled them in Excel because of Nick’s interest in computational thinking, and to allow Ty’s academic support to happen in an integrated fashion, as opposed to pull-out, stand-alone classes.
“At Excel, teachers and school leaders know the names and backgrounds of all our students,” said Youmans. “They’re willing to work with families if a student needs different classes, a quieter environment, or if they’re facing discipline issues. We have a real family environment.”
Youmans is frequently joined in the front office by Excel parent and volunteer Jennifer Berglund, whose daughter Ella is in seventh grade. Berglund was drawn in by the small class sizes at Excel, which provide Ella with more personalized attention. “Now she’s doing really, really well,” said Berglund. She echos Youmans’ appreciation of the Excel family: “The staff at Excel knows all the kids, which is key. If parents are looking for a school with small class sizes, and teachers who are always available to give students extra help and guidance, this is the school for them.”
Excel offers a wide range of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) classes, including orchestra and digital music composition, as well as a variety of after school programs, including cooking club, speech and debate club, and even a coding club.
Both Youmans and Berglund are encouraged by the academic courses available at Excel, and have high hopes for their children. “Nick wants to be an engineer, and his computer science teacher is super knowledgeable, so it’s really reassuring that Nick will be able to learn from him for several years,” said Youmans. “And Ty benefits so much from the small groups they have him working in.”
Berglund recalls how Ella talks about one of her favorite classes, English, taught by Mr. Lofton: “She says, ‘Mom, he doesn’t just teach English, he teaches life skills.’ He really knows how to connect with students.”
At Green Dot, we believe the inclusion of all voices is key to building a transformative public school experience, which is why we’re so grateful for parents and advocates like Youmans and Berglund, who help bridge the gap between students’ home and school lives.