AUHS and Lafayette Elementary School on Serving Children in Need

By March 8, 2017University News

Matthew 18:2-5 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

(From left to right) Lafayette Elementary School Principal Wendy Thompson, AUHS Founder Dr. Kim Dang (Hon.), and Lafayette Elementary School Counselor, Nancy Rettig.

(From left to right) Lafayette Elementary School Principal Wendy Thompson, AUHS Founder Dr. Kim Dang (Hon.), and Lafayette Elementary School Counselor, Nancy Rettig.

American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) welcomed representatives from Lafayette Elementary School to their campus on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Lafayette Elementary School Principal, Wendy Thompson and Lafayette Elementary School Counselor, Nancy Rettig, met with AUHS Founder, Dr. Kim Dang (Hon.) and her associates in the 2nd Floor Conference room to discuss AUHS’ tutoring program and other services.AUHS has a tutoring program where the university’s students go to elementary schools, (such as Whittier Elementary School and Signal Hill Elementary School), and tutor science, mathematics and other subjects. Lafayette Elementary School expressed their interest in having AUHS provide their tutoring program to its students.

“We would love to provide our tutoring service for (Lafayette) but I want to know what your needs are so we can determine how many students we can provide,” Dr. Dang said, “A lot of our students have a heart to help others so that’s the reason why we wanted to offer this tutoring program as an opportunity for them to give back to the community.”

Lafayette Elementary School was built for 300 students but currently has one thousand. The school is “100 percent Title One,” meaning all the children that attend Lafayette are living below the poverty line, according to Thompson. Many Lafayette students live in hotels on Pacific Avenue and Magnolia and are chronically homeless. Lafayette has the highest transitory rate in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and they have the third highest rate of foster children.

Thompson’s mission as Lafayette’s school principal aligns with AUHS’ mission because she wants to do more than give her students an education.

“Our students are precious, they are eager and I know so capable. Our test scores have continued to climb so their intellectual fortitude is great but there are so many non-academic barriers. When basic needs are not provided, it’s very difficult to focus on your studies,” said Thompson, “You cannot learn when your belly is hungry, you cannot learn when you’re cold, when you don’t feel safe at home. There’s abuse, there’s violence and a lot of grief and loss. Their parents are incarcerated, their parents are murdered.”

Lafayette has many students that present behaviors that are related to trauma. Unfortunately, the basic needs of these children are often overlooked.

“When a student is hyper-vigilant, it gets misconstrued as ADHD,” said Thompson, “Some students are unrelenting to take of their backpack because everything they own is in their backpack. So we have to be sensitive to these thing and knowing the needs of our students allows us to serve them with a servant’s heart.”

Thompson believed that as a school and as a community, we have to do more for our children than just teaching them reading, writing, science, and mathematics skills. We have to learn and build relationships with the students and their families in order to better serve them. Although Thompson want to do more for her students, the sources for the school’s revenue decline every year.

“The funds for Title One program through the federal government are diminishing,” Thompson said, “And there’s declining enrollment in the district and less money is coming through the funding sources. But a lot of my school’s needs really have nothing really to do with money, they have to do with the need for hands. Tutoring isn’t really about money, per se. It’s about the necessity for human beings who can come and can work with the students.”

The Lafayette students who are in most need of AUHS’ tutors are students who are in danger of “being retained” which means a student cannot move on to the next grade if he or she does not meet certain standards. For example, in mathematics students must pass the basic math facts test. In reading, students can be no further than one year behind their reading level.

“Our first area of need would be helping those retention students get out of retention danger,” Thompson said, “If someone can come and listen to a student read, and help the student by asking some comprehension questions, help them with some strategies to help attack words and so forth, it would make a difference.”

Dr. Dang commended Thompson’s efforts and assured her guests that the university’s tutors would be vetted and provide the care and commitment the children of Lafayette Elementary school needed. She told Thompson that AUHS wanted to make absolutely sure that it’s students “will be of help and not of hindrance” so it had created a criteria that determines whether or not its students are eligible to become tutors. The criteria includes GPA, proficiency in math, science and English, and much more. AUHS plans to provide 10 tutors for Lafayette Elementary School in May 2017.

Dr. Dang also said that when she started AUHS 23 years ago, their mission included a strong sense of social responsibility and community outreach. The university had collaborated with many elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in the past. AUHS had made many efforts to introduce children to the field of nursing and pharmacy, and to overall help enrich young minds with science and mathematics.

Dr. Dang discussed how AUHS collaborated with Charles F. Kettering Elementary school to create a Regional Occupational Program (ROP). The ROP was called “Pharmacy Technician.” For 12 years, AUHS recruited 20 students a year who were high achievers and identified themselves in wanting to pursue a career in the medical field.

“The students had to give up a lot because our program was a year long and they had to leave school early to come to us,” Dr. Dang said, “We had that agreement with the LA County Unified district for 12 years.”
AUHS kept track of their students and discovered that 90 percent went to 4-year university, (the majority of them in health sciences), and 50 percent of the students became pharmacists, according to Dr. Dang.
“The purpose of us doing this program is to increase awareness and also to give them experience that they need to really make a decision,” Dr. Dang said, “By the time they graduate high school, their resume will look great if they want to pursue a PharmD or pre-Pharm program because they had exposure and experience.”

Dr. Dang also informed her guests of AUHS’ fourth annual A2i Summer Medical Camp that will take place in June 2017. AUHS is currently accepting applications from students grade 8-12. In this summer camp students learn medical terminology, pharmacology, dosage calculation, get CPR certification, learn basic physical diagnosis, and much more.

“It doesn’t cost much money, only an application fee. Some of the students qualify for a scholarship, so they get in for free,” said Dr. Dang, “It’s something we do for the community, it’s not meant for profit.”

The A2i Summer Med. Camp also provides a career day panel where students can meet health care professionals, (such as pharmacists, doctors, and ultrasound technicians), ask them questions about their field and learn essential career advice.

Students are also given fun hands-on activities such as making lip balms and bubble gum flavors.

“If we can motivate them to further their focus in health sciences then we’ve done our job,” Dr. Dang said.
Dr. Dang also announced that AUHS will be hosting it’s very first free Book Fair in June 2017.

“I love books and I have three kids of my own and they love to go to the bookstore,” Dr. Dang said, “I know a lot of kids, if their income is not high, can’t afford to buy their own books. Scholastic people can be very expensive nowadays.”

AUHS is in the process of collecting new and gently used books for the upcoming Book Fair. The Book Fair will have the same voucher system as AUHS’ annual events such as Santa Cause and Acts of Love.

When Thompson and Rettig asked where AUHS received its funding for these charitable events, Dr. Dang said she never asked the state or federal government for money. AUHS was a for-profit university but it helped fund AUHS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that researches and helps relieves the suffering of the poor, the homeless and the underprivileged.

“We’re a Christian-based organization. I don’t know if you have a problem with that or not because you’re a public school but that is why we feel the need to help others, because of our faith,” Dr. Dang said, “I feel like my family and I have been very blessed so that’s why I wanted to give back the things that God has given me.”

Dr. Dang said that she, AUHS and the AUHS Foundation does what it cans with what God has given them.

“I’ve never asked any federal government or any state or local agency for money because I feel that if I’m able to do this, then I’m going to do it. I don’t need to go ask for money just because I don’t want to use my own money,” Dr. Dang said, “If I’m going to give something to the community like toys, socks or food, it has to be something that I want to give to my own children.”

AUHS is a private, for-profit, minority owned, minority serving, Christian-based university whose mission is to educate and equip students with life careers and to produce quality health care professionals for the community, the nation, and the world. It is a university where appreciation of life and one’s spiritual reason for existence can be nurtured.
AUHS offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) and a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR). To request more information, email admissions@auhs.edu or call (562) 988-2278. For the latest news, pictures and videos of American University of Health Sciences’ events, like us on Facebook @auhs.edu and follow us on Twitter @AUHS_Campus and Instagram @auhsedu.