School Adds Laundry Room To Support Struggling Students
When students were missing school because they didn't have clean clothes to wear, the principal came up with a solution.
In the back of a strip mall in Phoenix, AZ, an abandoned movie theater has been turned into an alternative high school, but the students inside the school haven't been forgotten. The school's principal, John Anderson, is making sure of that.
Most of the students who attend Maya High School are struggling. Over 30% are categorized as homeless and most have had problems in more traditional school settings. While the fact that many students don't have a secure place to sleep is certainly an issue, Anderson (pictured below) has noticed a new problem. Students aren't coming to school because they don't have clean clothes to wear.
"I relate to a lot of them," former Maya student Andreya De La Torre told azfamily.com . "I come from a homeless background, sleeping in abandoned buildings, having no clothes, washing the same pair of clothes every single day. ... But coming to school smelling, kids don't want to be by you. They are talking about you. And it's just really hard to focus on your education when you are focused on your self-esteem.
To help with the problem, Anderson reached out to several organizations in the area who provided grant money to build a student access laundry room at the school. Now, students can visit "The Missing Sock" when they need to wash their clothes, and Anderson says it's quickly becoming the new spot for students to hang out between classes.
Maya seniors Stephanie and Anntania said the laundromat (converted from a utility closet) is already making a difference for their classmates.
"I would say it builds up their self-esteem quite a lot because they would talk with someone and say, 'I don't have a laundry at home. Can I bring some here?' Instead of worrying about someone talking about you because you smell bad and you don't have to ask someone to borrow clothes you can just wash them here.
Anderson, who was inspired to take on the project when one of his students kept showing up despite not having clean clothes, says it's just the first step to making sure the students at Maya are set up to succeed. He recently received a grant of $5,000 from the Arizona Diamondbacks to go toward building showers for the school.
"We're going to take on any challenge and we're not going to make any excuses together as a community," he said.
"I don't look at it as a handout. It's a hand up. These kids are survivors; they're fighters. - John Anderson
If you're in Arizona and would like to become a partner or affiliate with Maya High School, you can do so by visiting the school's website . You can also make an individual donation to support extracurricular activities at the school.
Also, if this is something that could benefit a school in your community, don't hesitate to bring it up with school administration and board officials. There are many groups out there that are willing to help.
Let's #StartSomethingGood together.