Many students’ needs become more glaring during this time of year. These needs, while not directly academic in nature, certainly impact a child’s ability to learn.
A child’s basic needs must first be met before our staff can teach them. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is based off of the theory that it is difficult for someone to reach their dreams when they are struggling to fight off the distraction of getting their basic needs met. Many of our staff members give of their time and money to provide for these needs as they see them throughout the school year.
During the holiday season the community really steps up to take care of these needs as well. Many religious organizations contribute in various ways to families and our youth during this time. Our police force helps out by providing the “Shop with a Cop” program. Through this program, many students in kindergarten through eighth grade who may not have the funds available to have the Christmas they hoped for, are picked up by a police officer and taken to a store to go shopping for presents.
Also, during this time of year our local fire department does “Operation Warm,” where they come into the school and size students for much needed winter coats. In a couple weeks the firefighters will come back to deliver perfect fitting brand new winter coats to our students.
A program that helps many of our students all year long is “Weekends without Hunger.” They provide food in student bookbags before they go home on Fridays so we can be sure our free lunch students will have something to eat on Saturday and Sunday.
While it is great to have so many groups and programs to help out, it is sometimes individuals that step up for our students. For example, last week a retired teacher found out we had a student with no winter coat and big holes in his shoes. She delivered brand new tennis shoes and a brand new winter coat to him before the end of the school day.
Another example was earlier this school year when a few of my staff members found out a student was homeless. They paid for a hotel room, gas cards and meals for the family out of their own pockets. I also think of the local business owner who donated more than $1,000 in items (socks, pants, coats) to help meet our students’ needs throughout this 2017-18 school year.
I know without a doubt I’m leaving out many others in the community who help provide for our students basic needs of safety, food, and clothing. It is the work of all of us together that makes it possible for our students to come to school ready to learn. Thanks for all you do as a community to help light up our kids during the holiday season.
Local columnist Adam Kreischer is the League Elementary principal.