DALLAS - Thursday's "Our Neighbor" recognizes a group of attorneys who have turned a quiet elementary school library into a poetry academy.
The Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell lawfirm has been a sponsor of Medrano Elementary for 10 years.
Every Thursday during lunch, lawyers from the firm meet with students in the library and tutor them in various subjects.
This semester the emphasis has been on comprehending poetry.
The purpose is to build self esteem and reinforce reading strategies. Each student is assigned an adult mentor, who discusses the poem, including the vocabulary, feeling, fluency and real-world connection.
A majority of the students at the elementary are either on free or reduced-lunch, meaning their parents can't afford to get them extra tutoring after school. But, thanks to the firm, the students get that for free, along with very important mentoring.
"What is also fun, since we have been doing this for so long, is we're seeing other members of the same family," said Elizabeth Howard, a mentor. "So, the student I am tutoring right now, I tutored his uncle eight or nine years ago when we were doing some math tutoring."
During the last nine year, Medrano has seen dramatic rises in test scores. The school went from being ranked low-performing to recognized.
Every year, the firm throws a giant holiday party for the first graders, complete with Christmas presents. The attorneys say they get more out of it than the children just by seeing their smiles.