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Terrebonne School helps homeless students

By Wanda Moore
Published On: Mar 19 2014 09:05:38 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Wanda Moore talked to teachers at Terrebonne Community School about helping students in need and ranking high academically at the same time

TERREBONNE, Ore. -

"This celebration was a read-in,"  Brenda Tobish, a second-grade teacher at Terrebonne Community School. "There was tents and pajamas and stuffed animals. Just a lot of fun. Giggles and reading and talking about books."

The Terrebonne school is trying to make students feel special and encouraged.

"Wherever the kid is at, whatever the struggles are, once we are here we're gonna do the very best we can. And we're gonna help," said Principal Tom Yahraes.

The system is working. Terrebonne has among the highest percentage of homeless children in the Redmond School District, but it ranks first academically. Twelve percent Terrebonne students are homeless, while 60 percent qualify for a free or low-cost meals.

"I think it's really hard for children who come hungry, or with shoes that are falling apart or maybe they didn't sleep in a bed last night, it's really hard to jump start them," Tobish said.

Despite those challenges, Terrebonne is only one percentage point away from being named a model school by the state.

The key to success? A whole community coming together.

"A lot of families are in crisis and just don't know what they going to," said Family Access Network advocate Jennifer Jackson. "When they get to Terrebonne School, it's kind of a wrap-around, family feel."

Fourth-grade teacher Gayle Davis said, "It isn't just the teachers or the administration. It's the whole package together."

Terrebonne reached out to businesses in the community to help families and students in need, with school supplies, food, free dental care and even utility costs.

"Because when you don't have a house and you can't pay your utility bill, helping your kids have the supplies they need" is difficult, Jackson said.

It's an all-around approach that is helping kids in need.

"Because really and truly, we love the whole child here. It's not just about learning, although that's extremely important," Davis said.

Many families are afraid to ask for help. Jackson tells NewsChannel 21 that most of the families who have received help in the past are now helping out other families in need.

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