The Whole Child
The issue of educating the less fortunate has been of dire importance for far longer than any of us have been alive. Since everyone knows that knowledge is power, it has become accepted practice to disenfranchise those that would upset the status quo if they were to gain knowledge. In order to maintain what has "always been", children of color and the poor have always had less access to good education. More than that, they have had less access to good preparation for the future. This is accomplished in a variety of ways but most often it is the burden of raising a child, especially a child of color, when there's a general lack of financial stability that proves to be the most successful.
In Worcester, MA, one school is doing something a little strange to help alleviate one of the symptoms of financial distress, i.e. Absences due to the inability to do laundry. Sullivan Middle School has begun a laundry program under the guidance of principal Josephine Robertson. If there's no money for a washing machine in your home, the next bet is that there may not be enough money for, nor the means to transport yourself and your dirty laundry to the laundromat either, if you're living in one of these communities. The number of absences increased dramatically because kids were embarrassed to come to school in dirty clothes.
Principal Robertson decided to do something about the absences. With the help of several donations, the school was able to purchase a washer and dryer. Kids can come and wash their clothes "discreetly" and even have a closet full of clothes to choose from if they can't afford to replace clothing that needs to be thrown out.
“It’s empowering for the students to come in and put on fresh clothing. They do their own laundry, it’s not a hand out,” Robertson said.
“All the sneakers and clothes have been donated,” Robertson added. “The school goes through about ten loads of laundry a week. The program has been so successful they plan to expand into other public school here in Worcester.”
Apparently, absences have gone down since the inception of the program and other schools are even looking to adopt the practice for themselves. According to the woman herself “My philosophy toward education must encompass the whole child. So if I am just educating you in math and science I am not doing anything yet because I have not touched your values. I have to touch your values and inner core."
We agree, Principal Robertson. The children are our future. Let's make sure they're prepared for it. Let's make sure ALL of them are prepared for it.