As hard as Coeur d’Alene Avenue Elementary School principal Dr. Rex O. Patton has worked to secure grants and additional financial funding, he has worked just as hard to maintain and establish new community partnerships in order to continually enhance student achievement and opportunities at his school.

Patton considers it his duty to be an ambassador for the arts and to talk about what he terms “compassionate education.”

He is frequently invited to speak at a private home in Brentwood or Bel Air to describe what the arts have done for his school and how the financial participation of the audience will help to continue and strengthen the ties needed to help the children.

The school has also become a favorite place to hold press conferences when contributions are made to arts programs.

“Whatever it is, I am going to be there to do it,” he says.

Longtime partner P.S. Arts is a major benefactor of Patton’s public relations. To describe P.S. Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring arts education to public schools, in a few words is to understate its importance to Coeur d’Alene and each of the schools it serves. It is the backbone program that provides music, art, dance and drama plus after-school lessons, as well as field trips during the year. It offers classes that are no longer in the Los Angeles Unified School District budget and experiences the students would not normally have.

The Hollywood entertainment industry is noted for giving back to community efforts because it is the community that supports them. For over a decade, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has been committed to Coeur d’Alene through mentoring, book club and job-shadow programs. The agency has also been involved in projects such as supporting and donating to the arts, technology integration, early literacy, clean-up days, Saturday free arts programs and physical painting activities at the school.

The local area is a wealth of resources, and the following are just a few.

— The Boys & Girls Club of Venice has an after-school program on campus from 2:30 to 6 p.m. every day that serves approximately 60 students.

— The Venice-Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library, a City of Los Angeles library, and the county’s Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Public Library have both been active over the years in supplying assistance and sharing their services.

— The Venice Family Clinic gives free healthcare to children and families with low incomes and no health insurance.

— The Westchester Family YMCA has a satellite campus at Coeur d’Alene for daycare from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

— Parents volunteer over 50,000 hours annually, working in classrooms, driving on field trips, participating in council and committee meetings, implementing the arts programs and planning and executing a variety of fundraisers.

— The Friends of the Coeur d’Alene Booster Club was founded in the 2003-2004 school year with a main goal of fundraising to help achieve the school’s goals towards academic and environmental improvement.

The committees are involved in the beautification and safety of the school grounds, environmental awareness, a food drive, volunteering in the classrooms and physical education program, as well as raising funds by organizing fundraisers, large and small, that support — and in some cases make possible — the extras that make the school a great experience for their children.

One of these projects is a yearbook whose content rivals any high school or college year book. It highlights all of the teachers, events and classes along with acknowledging all of the partnerships and parent committees. It is a testament to the involvement and caring of the parents and is a wonderful keepsake for the students

— Grandparents regularly help out in the classrooms, too. The senior tutors tend to have a calming effect as they patiently help young minds learn new concepts and are, sometimes, a helpful ear when the children want to share.

— Through technology partners, too many to list here, students are afforded preparation for middle school and beyond. Algebraic thinking starts in kindergarten and spirals throughout the grade levels.

First-grade students work in pairs to record weather data on spreadsheets, create weather maps on computers and perform as weather forecasters for their classmates.

Students are introduced to the research process in second grade and learn the elements of writing a quality research report.

Fifth-grade graduates are not only able to integrate text in their PowerPoint presentations but also blend in music, voice-overs, sound, art, multimedia, digital photography and animation.

“We know the software will change tomorrow, but the presentation skills will last a lifetime,” says Patton.

Patton’s book, The Little School That Could!, discusses academic programs, arts integration, technology integration, after-school programs and partnerships.

“Over the years, our partners and their programs have been the conduits that have allowed us to continually improve our work and provide a better education for our children, as well as build stronger families and a better community,” he says.

“These partnerships can’t be thanked enough,” he adds. “We make them feel like they are part of our vision.” Which, of course, they are.

Who can say it better than a satisfied parent? Loren Grossman’s two sons attended Coeur d’Alene.

“When Rex Patton was assigned to Coeur d’Alene in 1999, he knew it was going to be a hard act to follow the former principal,” Grossman says. “Little did we know that with the establishment of the new gifted program, the Schools for Advanced Studies, at Rex’s arrival and almost a decade of his relentless fundraising for the arts and technology, Rex has turned Coeur d’Alene into an award-winning school for local Venice kids from the homeless shelter to the Canals.

“We are all so fortunate to have Rex as a model principal in our community.”

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