Students play tetherball during recess at Four Corners Elementary School. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Abby Ramirez, special programs instructional assistant at Four Corners Elementary School in Salem Wednesday March 13, 2019. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Students pose during recess at Four Corners (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Chelsea Zuber, learning resource center teacher, helps a student calm down in the Cubs Den at Four Corners (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Four Corners Elementary principal Phil Decker photographed on the playground with students on Wednesday March 13, 2019. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Students line up for recess at Four Corners (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Laura Maciel Hernandez, special programs instructional assistant at Four Corners (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Cubs Den is a newly remodeled room at Four Corners Elementary School in Salem. Staff refer to it as a "sensory" room where kids can go to deescalate intense feelings and calm themselves. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Kim Young, reading specialist, photographed at Four Corners Elementary School in Salem Wednesday March 13, 2019. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Bulletin board art helps kids understand and identify the state of their emotions in the newly developed Cubs Den at Four Corners Elementary School. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Bulletin board art helps kids understand and identify the state of their emotions in the newly developed Cubs Den at Four Corners Elementary School. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Inside the Four Corners Cubs Den, the lighting is dim and there are lots of rugs, cushions and pillows. There are also cozy nooks and tents where kids can sequester themselves. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

Phil Decker, Four Corners Elementary School principal, photographed Wednesday March 13, 2019. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

First built in 1949, Four Corners Elementary School sits in a residential neighborhood a few blocks away from Lancaster Drive South (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter)

These photos are part of a five-part series examining the Salem-Keizer School District's most challenged elementary schools.

Part 1: Salem schools struggle with shifting politics, challenging demographics, lagging students

Part 2: Four Corners educators fight the odds to boost student literacy

More about the series.

Coming tomorrow: Hallman Elementary School was once the worst-performing elementary school in Salem before a multimillion dollar federal grant helped nudge it off the list. Now, staff and a newer principal are trying to keep that improvement going.

If you have questions or comments, please email them to rachel@salemreporter.com or mail a note to: Rachel Alexander, Salem Reporter, 2925 River Road S. #280, Salem OR 97302

Reporter Rachel Alexander: rachel@salemreporter.com or 503-575-1241.

Follow Salem Reporter on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER.

YOUR SUBSCRIPTION WOULD HELP -- Salem Reporter relies almost exclusively on reader subscriptions to fund its operations. For $10 a month, you hire our entire news team to work for you all month digging out the news of Salem and state government. You get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.