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A System That Cares…

18 Nov

As a kid growing up in segregated Virginia…

My Mother was a primary School Teacher. Besides learning to write in perfect letters in both cursive and block letter, she insisted that every piece of paper I handed in look perfect.

She would often correct papers at home, after dinner, One day, when I was in about 3rd grade,  noticing that some of the papers had grease stains on them, I asked why. That question led to a sit down, which opened my eyes to realities beyond our black middle class home. She told me that some of the kids I went to school with lived in homes where the only place to do homework was at the kitchen table. They had no other place to go, and sometimes he food stains got on the papers as their mother was preparing dinner. I had honestly never considered that some of my friends lived in small, very old homes, where 5 or 6 kids tried to live in in 2-3 bedrooms. Scotty was my friend who played baseball after class….It never occurred to me that anything wasn’t as it should be, or that his home life would be any different than my own.

She organized a food and supplies drives through her Sorority and Church, and very quietly made sure these kids had enough food, clothing, and supplies – often delivering them herself, after sending a note home with the kids – who often didn’t have telephones in their homes. I went with her to deliver some of the supplies, and what I saw truly changed my worldview…I got strict orders never to discuss any of it, ever with my friends or school mates. It was our secret for many years.

The black community looked after the black community in those days…Because nobody else would. And did so in a way to try and preserve the dignity of those receiving aid. My Ebony and Jet reading dumb behind, never thought about it until then.

Now I grew up in what has consistently been ranked by those who keep track of such things as one of the 5 or 6 wealthiest counties in America. After desegregation, many of the white teachers were shocked to learn that abject poverty (both black and white) existed in the cracks and crevices of our otherwise wealthy and highly educated area.

It has taken damn near 50 years…But somebody else caught on to the things my parent’s generation knew.

School’s Private Pop-up Shop Lets Underserved Students Buy Basics With Dignity

Students require more than just books to succeed in school, and this innovative resource is helping teens in need build confidence both in and out of the classroom.

Administrators and the student government at Washington High School, in Washington, North Carolina, have created an anonymous, in-house shopping experience that provides underprivileged students with basic resources like food, hygienic products, school supplies and clothing. To eliminate stigma or judgment, students are able to discreetly approach a school administrator to privately take what they need from the shelves, where all items are targeted specifically to teenagers.

“If we want academics to improve, we have to make certain we’re meeting our students’ basic needs,” Misty Walker, the school principal, told The Huffington Post. “We want to strengthen our community, and schooling is just one aspect of that.”

The idea for the pantry came about when Walker realized her students’ needs were constantly growing. Though Washington High offers free and reduced meals, some students would not eat their next meal until they were back at school the next day, Walker explained. Students even began coming up to her personally, asking for items like toothpaste and toothbrushes.

As more of these needs began to surface, Walker consulted with Washington High School partner Bright Futures — an organization focused on school and community development. With the group, school administrators and the student leaders first developed a hygiene closet, and when that was successful, local donors helped expand the service into a school supply closet, food pantry and clothing shop.

“It’s a slightly different concept because we focused really on trying to help our high schoolers, versus the experience of preparing a whole box of food for a family,” Walker said.

To gain access to these resources, students simply speak in confidence with a teacher, counselor or administrator about their needs. A member of the school staff will then take them to shop in the pantries, all of which are located inside the school. This system both provides teens in need with basic resources, and strengthens the school community…Read the rest here

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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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