Crockett Elementary School is a haven for refugee families
April 3, 2018
Crockett Elementary School, located in the Balsz School District, has quickly gained a reputation among refugee and minority families. Today, the school rings with the sound of 17 languages spoken in its halls.
Arizona has been home to over 60,000 refugees in the last four decades. Nearly 2,000 have come to the state in the last two years alone. Half of the relocated refugees in Phoenix are children. Many families are drawn to Balsz School District because of the government subsidized housing within its boundaries. Crockett Elementary’s popularity grew through word of mouth and now serves children from all over the world.
“[The students] don’t see a student in a hijab or they don’t see a Hispanic student as someone who looks different than them. They just think, ‘That’s just my friend.’ The bigger piece I think is the processes we put out to the community and the parents,” Crockett Elementary School principal Sean Hannafin says.
The school practices mindfulness movements throughout the day to help the students deal with change, stress and it’s a way to bring them together. Hannafin says it’s about recentering yourself so you’re more comfortable with your surroundings.
“Getting to know more about the culture of the students and where they come from and why they come here was key,” Hannafin says. “Once we did that, it was kind of easy for us to get together as a group of teachers and talk about what would be best for the students.”
Josh Meibos is a P.E. teacher at the elementary school and recently was named Arizona Teacher of the Year. He has developed ways to help encourage the kids to be who they are and accept one another.
“One thing I’ve done specifically in my physical education classes is when we do calisthenics, we count in different languages to acknowledge that everyone is unique, every is different and everyone is valued the same,” Meibos says.
The parents have started to become more involved in the school as well. There’s a relatively new Parent-Teacher Organization that has been successful in creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for families. There are mingling events for parents to discuss how to keep their kids safe. Crockett even offers English classes for the parents.