DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At Dallas’ Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary, challenges didn’t arrive with the coronavirus.

“We have a lot of international students from all over the world,” says Principal Sandra Barrios, “Five different continents, 25 different languages: to be able to do that amidst the pandemic and still hold an ‘A’ rating is quite an accomplishment!”

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That’s especially true in the school’s poverty scarred community of Vickery Meadows. Principal Barrios says the school not only held on to its Texas Education Agency ‘A’ rating… students made academic gains during the pandemic. “I think the message that our school sends is that of hope,” says Barrios. “No matter where you come from or what your background is, there is so much hope in everything. Education is the great equalizer.”

Jack Lowe parent Casey Fleming says success at the school, is the expectation. “I feel like they don’t allow the neighborhood to influence them or sway what they feel like should be done for the kids,” says Fleming, while picking up her son who is a 3rd grade student. “I don’t think there’s a doubt in my mind that there’s any staff members who believes that these kids can’t excel.”

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Principal Barrios credits a great staff– and a campus culture that values building relationships. It’s the reason she believes 80% of parents allowed their students to return to campus for in-person instruction as soon as they were able. Still, despite the academic success, Principal Barrios admits that there’s now another worry: the student’s emotional well-being as families still wrestle with COVID.

“So what really keeps me up at night is knowing the kids’ social emotional needs are met,” admits Barrios. “But also, that they have food on the table, that they’re just able to have their basic needs met as well. So that is really what stresses me out.”

And yet at Jack Lowe, challenges are always met with solutions. And support.

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“I’m so proud!” says parent Casey Fleming. “I tell everyone my kid goes to a blue-ribbon school!”