Dorcas William’s Classroom
There are many causes for homelessness, anyone can become homeless, and the homeless population in our community is increasing. Homelessness affects the entire family, their health, education, work, job, relationships, emotional state, and way of living. Our student population has 60 percent of students living below the poverty level, families who are new immigrants to our community living in mobile trailers, and a great number of students who repeat grades. As a class, we asked Dr. Williams if our academic and community focus for the summer camp to be, “education of homeless children.”
The root word for education is “educe.” This means to bring forth what is within, to draw, to lead, to raise, to direct, to elicit, to inspire, to develop, and to strengthen. We believe education is the key to help them out of homelessness, so their education should be like all other children. As much as we were giving to help the homeless children and their education, we were also educating ourselves and the community.
As a group we made a list of a variety of things our school and classmates could do to address our focus. They include having new students sit by us at lunch, being respectful to them, inviting them to an outing that I and my friends might be attending, and inviting them to a birthday party. Further, we can talk to them and make them feel welcome, ask them to go bowling or bike riding, and tell them you’ll pay for the cost, and make cupcakes for your class. Additionally, we can invite them to our homes and when they are being mistreated we will stick up for them by saying, “stop or leave them alone.”
Since our school motto is “Where high expectations produce positive results!” we developed some high goals and expectations for our five week summer camp experience. We had lots of fun and learned a lot about making a difference in our peers’ lives and living conditions by creating and producing a nine page Community Services Directory. This directory provides new students and their families’ information about varied community services and activities: grocery and clothing stores, health care, social services, fast-foods, transportation (buses and trains), hotels, police and fire departments, cellular phone services, auto repair and laundromats.
We also created a booklet about fun recreational and social things to do in our neighborhood; this includes places to swim, bowl, and shop, the arcades, soccer, skating, etc. The younger kids, classes A and B made beautiful welcome cards and drawings. The older children, group C and D made health bags with personalized notes and a drawing to welcome them. Our teacher contacted dentist and obtained tooth paste and tooth brushes and purchased soap and tissue packs/wipes. We choose bright colors of yellow, blue, and green bags, packed each bag, and tied it with a nice ribbon, rope, or yarn. Each class brought in snacks to share and eat as we completed our project. We ended our summer camp experience by knowing we had done something important, for others, our community, and our selves. We plan to continue helping by hosting school carnivals and using the money for homeless shelters, having each of our churches or girl/boy scout troop to collect school supplies and make back packs, donate clothing, collect food, set up money drives in each classroom, and provide musical concerts to raise money. Our goal of creating a school environment that shows we care, understand, and are helpful was achieved.
A very special thanks to our teacher, Dr. Dorcas Williams, District 132 Superintendent, Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds, and Dr. Robert Davis, dentist.