Author: Demond Fernandez, WFAA Reporter
LANCASTER, Texas – Some teachers at Pleasant Run Elementary School are going above and beyond to make sure their students are comfortable and focused on learning.
“We are just trying to fulfill a need,” said teacher Armand Allen.
Allen and Social Studies teacher Tracie Thompson are often busy in the school’s new laundry room. They’ve been volunteering to wash the clothing of a few of their students who were in jeopardy of missing school or becoming the targets of bullying.
“There are just things that you notice,” said Thompson. “As students are comfortable with you, they confide about certain things.”
Recently, administrators learned the teachers were taking it upon themselves to discretely help a few students who did not have clean clothing.
"When you have a rapport with your students, you kind of see what some of their needs are. They don’t necessarily tell you. But when you see it you address it," Allen explained.
The teachers learned of the need, by chance.
Thompson shared a story about how one of the students in her class told her she wouldn’t be attending school.
When she asked the reason why, the child explained she did not have anything to wear. After speaking with the child’s parent and getting permission, Thompson says she bought the student some clothing.
"I got their clothes,” Thompson explained. “I took them home. And I started washing their clothes for them.”
Allen did laundry off-site for some of his students.
Earlier this year, the school’s Truancy Coordinator, Dona Mitchell, applied for a grant from the Metrotex Association of Realtors. The group awarded Lancaster ISD with $2,700 toward a washer and dryer initiative.
“With the grant, I was able to partner with Best Buy and receive 4 washers and dryers," Mitchell said.
Now, brand new laundry rooms are set up in four campuses including Pleasant Run Elementary.
“We have a culture of servant leadership,” said Principal Kelli Watson.
The school’s principal says the laundry resources are allowing her team to help more students stay focused on academics, minus some of the distractions.
According to Lancaster ISD, about 86 percent of the students in the district are identified as economically disadvantaged. However, the school district continues to receive statewide academic distinctions.
"If they’re coming to school not feeling good about themselves, I’m worried about how people are going to treat me all day long. I can’t focus on my academics," Watson explained.
Allen says it is all about the children looking at the school as a safe house.
They say doing a little laundry for a few students is no burden. It is part of the belief it takes a village to raise a child.
"It’s up to me to make sure they have what they need,” Thompson said. “I feel like it’s my responsibility for my students to have whatever they need to be successful.”
The teachers say since Lancaster ISD administrators learned about what they have been doing, the school has been able to partner with businesses that have donated school uniforms and laundry supplies.