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A School That Provides The One Constant In Homeless Children’s Lives

  • Without predicted entrance to housing or food, a students during Positive Tomorrows live in a unchanging state of stress. The teachers and administration work on techniques for handling highlight and other emotions. Here, students in Shelly Fryer's category take time for play.

  • On a second day of school, a tyro asks Amy Brewer, a executive of preparation for Positive Tomorrows, how she knew that he indispensable a backpack. Positive Tomorrows provides any tyro with a trek and all a propagandize reserve they need. Students are also supposing with hygiene items, clothes, boots and jackets as needed.

  • While her daughter and son are during propagandize during Positive Tomorrows, Brenda tries on clothes. A box workman with Positive Tomorrows brought a tiny organisation of moms to Suited for Success, a nonprofit in Oklahoma City that gives women outfits for pursuit interviews.

  • After vital for roughly a year during a City Rescue Mission preserve and afterwards sleeping on couches for a few months, Ritisha and her 5 children finally pierce into low-income housing in Oklahoma City, Okla.

  • When asked what it is like to be homeless, Kenneth pronounced that it was hard, though that he infrequently has fun. Here, he shoots his sister, Serenity, with a H2O gun during a motel they have been vital in for a past dual months.

  • After 3 years during Positive Tomorrows, Serenity and Kenneth's family has shown no swell toward fast housing. Both children will send behind to open propagandize when Kenneth graduates 5th grade.

  • Often when families transition from a internal preserve to permanent housing, a Family Support Staff assistance yield equipment for a home. Here, Jenn Mars (left), a former Director of Family Support during Positive Tomorrows, helps Jackie (front) pierce into their new home before her dual boys get home from school.


Photographer and publisher Katie Hayes Luke reported via a year on an innovative propagandize for homeless children in Oklahoma City, Okla. We’re not regulating a initial names of students and family members to strengthen their privacy.

On a final day of school, a 5th class students during Positive Tomorrows perform last-minute rehearsals for a initial “Classy Awards.”

Teachers, relatives and mentors record into a classroom by a pathway pasted with swinging bullion stars, along a red paper carpet. While identical scenes play out in classrooms opposite a country, this sold organisation of fifth-graders has a some-more capricious destiny than most.

Positive Tomorrows is a small, privately-funded propagandize in a heart of Oklahoma City, designed to accommodate a needs of homeless children. The destiny of these students hinges on a one unchanging in their lives: a school, that addresses both preparation and simple needs.

The educational hurdles compared with homelessness are extended and extend to any dilemma of a child’s life. Without unchanging entrance to adequate food, preserve and safety, students are mostly too hungry, sleepy and stressed to keep adult in a classroom.

“It is arrange of like perplexing to change your tire on I-35 and we am perplexing to learn we how to review while that is happening,” says Amy Brewer, a school’s executive of education. “Obviously that does not go really well.”

“When we are training students that are entrance from mishap or from low poverty, sitting still and attending during a list is really difficult, says Shelly Freyer, a third- and fourth-grade clergyman during Positive Tomorrows.” Instead of normal desks, Freyer (center) designed her room to feel some-more like a family atmosphere with a kitchen table, vast carpets and comfy chairs.

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR


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Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

“When we are training students that are entrance from mishap or from low poverty, sitting still and attending during a list is really difficult, says Shelly Freyer, a third- and fourth-grade clergyman during Positive Tomorrows.” Instead of normal desks, Freyer (center) designed her room to feel some-more like a family atmosphere with a kitchen table, vast carpets and comfy chairs.

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

The National Center for Homeless Education reported that 1.3 million students gifted homelessness during a 2014-15 propagandize year, with a 3.5 percent boost in any of a 3 prior years.

Unfortunately, a new investigate only expelled by a Institute for Children, Poverty Homelessness points out that sovereign appropriation has remained prosaic over this time. And states change widely in their joining to identifying and portion homeless students.

In Oklahoma City, schools saw a series of students reported to be homeless arise from 3,600 in 2016 to some-more than 5,400 this past year.

“That is a outrageous jump,” says Kathy Brown, a homeless preparation coordinator for a Oklahoma City open schools. “I cruise that partial of it is since we had students that rolled over from final year that were already homeless [and] hopefully, improved marker within a schools.”

Of these 5,400 students, Positive Tomorrows is means to offer 74 during a time in a pre-K by fifth-grade program, totaling 123 students for this educational year.

While Serenity’s family continues to onslaught to say housing, mostly relocating between motels and friends and family, Shelly Freyer says Serenity has had an well-developed year. “She has done some good friends,” Freyer says. “Students here are means to accept any other for who they are.”

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR


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toggle caption

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

While Serenity’s family continues to onslaught to say housing, mostly relocating between motels and friends and family, Shelly Freyer says Serenity has had an well-developed year. “She has done some good friends,” Freyer says. “Students here are means to accept any other for who they are.”

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Positive Tomorrows began in 1989 as a partnership between a city’s open propagandize district, a state dialect of preparation and some inhabitant nonprofits to aim a specific educational needs of homeless students.

But with a thoroughfare of a sovereign No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, open propagandize systems were no longer authorised to sequester students formed on their homeless status. After losing open funding, Positive Tomorrows reopened as a private, tuition-free facile school, with a infancy of a appropriation entrance from private donors, foundations and corporations.

While there is no central information on how many schools privately aim homeless students, there are during slightest 3 identical schools in a U.S.: Monarch School, a open K-12 in San Diego; TLC, a open K-6 in Stockton, Calif.,; and Children’s First Leadership Academy, a K-8 licence propagandize in Phoenix with 100 percent of students during or next a misery level, with a infancy being homeless.

At Positive Tomorrows, support services concentration on a needs of a whole family — anticipating job-training opportunities, using primogenitor support groups and assisting bond students to fast housing. In addition, teachers and administration work with a children on amicable skills techniques for handling stress, highlight and feelings.

On this final day of school, Shelly Freyer walks her 3rd and 4th graders to Braum’s, a internal restaurant, for an end-of-year ice cream treat. The fad and delight fill a tiny store and reflect what Freyer considers one of a biggest misconceptions about homeless students.

“These kids are like other kids,” says Freyer. “They come to propagandize and they are prepared to learn and vehement about learning.” They aren’t unhappy or constantly in trouble, she says.

While all of her students are tangible as homeless, she explains that nothing of a students cruise themselves homeless. “Wherever their mom is, wherever they are staying, that is home,” explains Freyer.