Minority to majority--it's a national trend which is also reflected in Anchorage schools where 56% of students are children of color.
But two schools are celebrating diversity while challenging teachers and students to find success.
“I was thinking about being a doctor,” saidGambelina Her, and eighth-grade student at Clark Middle School.
They are words of aspiration. A belief that students at Clark Middle School are applying each day.
“I am a student seeking to be a scholar, the standard is excellence today and tomorrow,” said Clark Middle principal Cessilye Williams. “That's something that we say every morning and every day, we impart into our students and into our families of what opportunities are.”
It's a message that actually starts in primary schools like William Tyson Elementary.
“I'm extremely proud of them,” said William Tyson principal John Kito.
Kito and Williams run the two most diverse schools in the Anchorage School District. 92% of students at William Tyson are classified as non white. Clark's student population is 89% non white.
“Clark is culturally rich,” said Williams. “I see it as an asset, something to be celebrated.”
“Every student has an opportunity to be educated no matter where they come from or who they are,” said Kito.”
It's a philosophy the principals not only preach but encourage their staff to teach.
“The successes we have is these children are becoming individuals ready for society, ready to go out and do some work, follow up, high school, college if possible,” said Kito.
“We always put 120% forward, the minimum is never enough we always want to give our very best,” said Williams.
Marissa Smith teaches English as a second language at Clark Middle school, a growing demand given the shift in diversity.
“I do it, we do it, and you'll do it,” said Smith who believes diversity is a strength within the school system but it’s not without challenges in the classroom.
“They can read and they can mark up the words, but they don't exactly know what they are reading, so that's very challenging,” said Smith.
Her challenge is improving their English comprehension and vocabulary.
“I try to modify it to the kids who are low and then a challenge a little bit for the ones who are really high,” said Smith.
William Tyson 5th grade teacher Barbara Parson is on the same page. Building a relationship with her students is chapter number one.
“All students are different, all student needs are different,” said Parson. They feel more secure in that type of setting so for us it has been successful with our kids and it allows them to just take more risks in their learning.
Educators at the district’s most diverse schools also face outside economic challenges, especially in disadvantaged areas of the district.
“It is sometimes tough, because they deal with a lot of outside pressures that do come in the classroom, and it does effect the learning,” said Parson.
Some students come to school hungry and face family struggles and stressers at home.
Science and math teacher Anthony Holden says he takes a fatherly approach which fills him with pride as students excel.
“Maybe they have beat down so much, they feel like they can't and I feel like if I can get them to believe in themselves then they will believe in me.” “It's one of the happiest moments you can have as a teacher.”
Eighth-grader Gambelina is a believer. She has turned struggles into success.
“I was scared a little but I got through it.” “I'm an honors student at Clark Middle School so I really love thank all my teachers in supporting me with my homework.
“You can't buy that, you can't educate that in, it's a passion that comes from the heart,” said Williams.
A passion that Kito puts into practice every day even when it comes to discipline.
“My plan always is to discipline with dignity, you listen to the child, you listen to the teacher, but you give the child a means of being able to express themselves because often times they tell you things that maybe you wouldn't get otherwise.”
The approach to education and problem solving is as diverse as the students themselves.
“Learning is not always going to be easy, but we never want to give up,” said Williams.