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Juanita Tate Elementary
Taking a Glance at Our Future

By Mariah Haas

They say anything is possible, and in the heart of South Los Angeles at the corner of Main and 59th Street a kindergartner can already be thinking about attending college.

In a brand new gray building outlined in yellow and purple Juanita Tate Elementary is situated right across from a little market and several houses. It isn’t like every other school that you send your children to though it is more than that.

Juanita Tate was built in response to the community’s concern about their children, and how many parents felt their kids weren’t receiving the education that they deserved.

This fall is Juanita Tate’s first year being open, and it has greatly affected the lives of those in its surrounding neighborhood because this school year many children in the local community have a new home school.

“Some families were resistant to the move, especially for children in the upper grades, where they’ve been in that school for a long time and sometimes they’re friends aren’t going to be here. So, parents are resistant to move their kids,” says Juanita Tate’s Office Manager Christina Ramirez.

After only a few months of school being in session though, many families’ attitudes have changed.

“After some classes and back-to-school nights parents tell me they are happy to be here because their children have made so much progress, and they love their teachers because they are always there when they need them,” says Ramirez.

“I like this school better than my old school because we can do more and we have more materials. I just love it here,” says 5th-grader Markaylla Hale.

Juanita Tate is unique in many different ways, including how it functions as both a charter and public school.

Juanita Tate operates in a Los Angeles Unified School District building, which makes it a public school. At the same time, it is managed by Aspire Public Schools, a non-profit charter management organization. Since, Juanita Tate is under charter administration, any available seats left are raffled off to students through a lottery.

Once students attend Aspire, they are randomly selected and put into three different smaller academies – Inskeep, Tate, and Slauson.

Aspire believes in small school settings to help benefit their students’ education more. Each academy has 300 students, with their own teachers and individual principals.

"The whole point is to have that individualized instruction for each kid,” says Ramirez.

Along with focusing on each scholar individually, Aspire also expresses their belief that all of their students will go to college.

“Our motto at Aspire is college for certain, which means that all of our students are not going to just graduate high school, but they are going to go onto a four-year university,” says Ramirez.

In the past two years, all of the high school students from Juanita Tate’s sister academies in the Bay Area and Central Valley have all been accepted to college.

“They are moving on and continuing their education, and we believe that if we start that mentality in kindergarten, they are going to grow with that and they are going to keep going,” says Ramirez.

So, how does the school teach 6-year-olds about attending a University? Aspire has developed a program that incorporates college into their students daily education.

“All of our teachers represent a college, so they put up different posters, the college logo, and the mascot all up on their walls. They also do a college cheer that incorporates Aspire’s mission into it. Students even learn about their college and do projects based on it,” says Ramirez.

Every year the scholars at Juanita Tate get a new college so by the time they are high school seniors filling out college applications, they will have some knowledge about a variety of universities.

Juanita Tate students discussing an in-class reading assignment.

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