Best Schools 2010

Phoenix Magazine | Colleen Sparks

EAGLE College Prep Elementary, Phoenix
Charter school

It may be small, but Expecting Academic Greatness with a Loving Emphasis (EAGLE) College Prep Elementary School in south Phoenix sets a big example when it comes to cultural diversity and tolerance.

Last year, 26 percent of students spoke one of 15 languages other than English: Spanish, Vietnamese, Bangla, Malayalam, Filipino, Farsi, Somalian, Mandarin, German, Welsh, Hindi, Arabic and Tibetan. Nearly 40 percent of the school’s 275 students were Hispanic, and of the teaching staff, 24 percent are bilingual; that means seven out of 29 speak another language, including Spanish, Romanian, Italian, Ukrainian and American Sign Language.

“We celebrate the multi-cultural aspect of our students all the time,” says Principal Wendy Noble.

Noble says students meet with teachers, administrators and other adult staff members weekly through the Nurturing EAGLE Scholar Time (NEST) program, in which students learn to respect others’ cultural, religious and linguistic differences.

Students say the lessons, coupled with constant positive reinforcement from teachers and a daily emphasis on good character, have promoted an anti-bullying atmosphere on campus.

“It’s fun at the school,” says 9-year-old Aisha Abdulle, whose parents are from Somalia. “It’s a good thing, because everybody’s different.”