Shelli-Anne Couch of Atwater Village had been sending her two kids to private schools even though Atwater Avenue Elementary, a public school, was just down the street. But after a chance visit to a school open house, Couch was impressed with new principal Charles Smith and his commitment to the students. After a few months of checking out the school, Couch not only enrolled her two children at Atwater elementary she now serves as the newly elected president of the Friends of Atwater Elementary, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting the school. She encourages other parents to look beyond a relatively lackluster API score and support Atwater elementary and the friends group, which has been involved in establishing a school reading garden, book club and extra field trips. Says Couch:
What makes this school so special? Why the crappy API scores? Why is Ivanhoe the holy grail and not Atwater? Mr Smith’s passion to galvanize the community to create a truly neighborhood school was a major factor in our school switch. Now a year later we feel almost smug, knowing things about our school that aren’t reflected in API’s and online reviews.