The American public education system serves nearly 50 million students grades K-12 per year. Of this overwhelming number of students, an estimated 954,914 of them are homeless. Economic conditions of recent years have produced a rising number of homeless youth who are commonly educated in public schools. Financial struggle, transportation limitations, lack of home stability and other obstacles faced by homeless youth negatively influence the probability of their success; as compared to their non-homeless classmates. One elementary school in Orlando, Florida knows the reality of homeless students all too well.
Fern Creek Elementary in Orlando, Florida navigates a unique situation. 20 percent of their students live in homeless shelters. Principal Patrick Galatowitsch responds to Fern Creek’s homeless population with a fresh attitude. Suspensions are not used as punishment. “It makes no sense to remove a child who needs school the most,” Galatowitsch told the New York Times. For students who have unstable living situations, the consistency and support at Fern Creek presents a dependable and safe environment.