Ellen: Monarch School Educates San Diego’s Homeless Kids
Because education is so important to our children and the future of our country, Ellen DeGeneres and her staff have been highlighting people who are making a difference in America’s classrooms. Today they put another outstanding educator in the spotlight on her show.
Joel Garcia is principal of Monarch School in San Diego, California. The school takes care of homeless students who are in transitional housing. The school provides a safe environment for students whose lives are in flux.
They have laundry and shower facilities on site for students, and a Shopping Day event that lets kids pick out donated clothing. The school seems to really be connecting with its students, boasting a 92% attendance rate and helping students make up a year of classroom learning for every six months they spend at the school.
“They’re here, they’re excited about school, and they’re kicking butt,” Joel Garcia said. In an emotional interview, he said that he often notices chaos in the families of new students, who don’t know where they’ll be staying or what they’ll be eating in the immediate future.
But the school helps to support the families and figure out ways to make everything work, with outstanding results. “After awhile you see them just blossom,” he said. “You see them grow, and it’s just so gratifying and so rewarding.”
Ellen: Principal Joel Garcia of Monarch School
Ellen surprised Principal Joel Garcia, who was in the audience of today’s show but didn’t know his school would be in the spotlight. She thanked him for leading a team that is committed to helping students and their families.
He said families are working hard to find stability in their home lives, and no one chooses to be homeless. The school has an enrollment of 150 homeless students, and each situation is unique.
Some students live in shelters, while others are in hotels or moving in temporarily with other families. The economy and unemployment spike in recent years have forced some paycheck-to-paycheck parents to live out of their cars.
Ellen: Monarch School Homeless Services
It’s amazing how much Monarch School does for its students and families. In addition to laundry and showers, the school feeds children breakfast and lunch daily. Plus, families are invited to dinners twice weekly, on Mondays and Fridays, which has got to be a huge help for people goin through hard times.
The school also employs an Expressive Arts Therapist to help students. They also offer an after school program.
Ellen: Monarch School Skype Donation
Ellen surprised Joel by revealing that her correspondent, Jeannie, was live on Skype at Monarch School. She was surrounded by excited students and staff, and said the feeling is like a family.
Principal Garcia said community support is behind much of the school’s success and resources. “We couldn’t do it without their help,” he said. “Truly, it’s amazing. It takes really the whole community to support our students and their families.”
Ellen DeGeneres and Skype teamed up to make a donation to Monarch School of $50,000. That should help this impressive school continue to make a difference for its students and their families.
Ellen: Principal Joel Garcia & Wife Kathy
Joel Garcia’s wife Kathy was also at today’s show, and she is pregnant with their third child, due in two months. They also have a two-year-old and four-year-old in the family. Ellen had a surprise for the family as well.
Ellen and JC Penney gave the family $2,000 in JC Penney gift cards for their current kids. Plus, Ellen invited Kathy back for her upcoming Mother’s Day show, so she can load up on stuff for her new baby.
Ellen: Skype in the Classroom
Ellen said that Skype is also giving away $250,000, in conjunction with Donors Choose, to help teachers facilitate classroom video calling projects. Donors Choose is a great charity that lets people connect with needy students and teachers to help fund class projects. Check it out for yourself at donorschoose.org.