As the community and parent liaison, I have the privilege of working with our partnership and many community members that provide goods and services to our students. We are a high poverty school with great needs and the community steps up and lends the hands for the students at Halle Hewetson and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Our biggest community partner is Communities in Schools (CIS). We have a full time CIS employee that is on our campus everyday. She works closely with admin, the counselor, and the three strategists to bring other community members onto our campus to provide for all the student's needs. Here are some of the community partners she has brought on our campus.
Goodie Two Shoes Foundation came to our school for the first time this year. They were able to provide over 400 pairs of shoes and 2400 pairs of socks to students in need. The students were sized and then were given the opportunity to make a choice of what shoes they wanted. Their beaming faces spoke a thousand words when they walked back to class in their brand new shoes.
Three Square is a program that provides food bags weekly for students who may not get enough to eat and boxed snacks daily for students who attend safe key or tutoring. One in six in our community do not have enough food to sustain them - this means that out of our 1000 students, 166 do not get enough to eat. In addition to the food bags, one Tuesday a month, three square provides a grocery giveaway for all families in the community. The grocery giveaway is usually enough food to last a family for a whole month.
Imagine not being able to go to school because you have no clothes to dress appropriately for an ordinary school day. Sometimes our students come to school with clothes that have been handed down so they do not fit right or they are very old and have holes. Because of this, some of our students are in need of clothes. Every year, our CIS works with our Counselor to find those students who have the greatest need. Our students go on a field trip and are able to shop for new clothing: pants, shirts, underwear, socks, shoes and a hooded sweatshirt or jacket. They are also provided with a hygiene kit and choose an age appropriate book for their enjoyment. This new clothing increases regular school attendance, higher academic performance and enhanced self-esteem, and puts a big smile on every child’s face.
Our three partnerships have worked really hard with a team at our school to bring to fruition two outdoor classrooms, a large garden with 10 raised beds, 8 fruit trees, a harvest table, compost bin, and a large mural. We have a gardener who comes one time per week to meet with classes throughout the day and take care of the garden. Teachers teach the curriculum in the outdoor classrooms where students get a hands on experience with the soil, plants, insects, and crops. The students have the opportunity to see the parts of a plant in real life, the lifecycle of a butterfly in its own environment, and learn about the many energy sources in the garden. Without these generous partnerships, we would not have been able to provide this experience for our students.