My visit to Third Creek Elementary School in Statesville, NC
I recently met an enthusiastic music teacher who shared not only her love of teaching and her students, but also the challenges that many of her students face.
Third Creek is classified as a NC Public Title 1 School which means that more than 40% of the school’s families are low income. Roughly ¾ of the students get free or reduced fee lunch throughout the year and for many, it may be their only meal for the day. While the majority come from minority families, it is more important to recognize what the teachers and administration are hoping to supply for these kids both in class and for take home basics like food and clothing in some cases.
The teacher arranged for us to have a tour of the school guided by 2 charming students who greeted us at the door with a handshake, greeting and introduction. A., a blonde wisp of a little girl, held her clipboard and penciled checklist firmly as she began the tour of each type of class and grade. T., a wide-grinned boy pointed out the inspirational creations on the walls as we were led from one area to the next. Occasionally, we were allowed to peer into a classroom and were inevitably struck by some shining stars, student or teacher, who despite any given challenge, were rising to meet us, greet us, or explain their course of study.
The school itself appears fresh and new however as the tour continuned, A. and T. explained that the special classes couldn’t come out onto the playground as there wasn’t really a place for them. They then took us to the store room where they shared in an almost understanding manner that many of the kids need shoes, socks or fresh clothing on any given day. If they don’t have them, they can be supplied from the racks of coats, shirts and pants onsite. There were bags of cereal, bread, and other foodstuffs for them to take home as the need for more meal assistance is discovered. I had no idea that this was part of an elementary education and my lesson had just begun.
The kindness and understanding of our youthful tour guides is an immeasurable success of this school. The dedicated teachers working on limited budgets with deprived children and struggling families are successes that need our support. Occasionally an exhausted teacher could be seen trying inspire these kids to engage in the topic or activity at hand, and I wondered who among them hadn’t eaten breakfast that day.
Teachers like this should not have to do without a pencil sharpener, or instructional materials that can enrich the lives of these children and families. Kids like A. and T. should not be hungry and should all have the dignity of shoes and clothing to participate in the day’s activities. The playground should be a place for all students to be outside and enjoy a respite from the walls without being sunburnt in our hot southern days. A shelter and wheelchair access would be a blessing. Supplying the basics for many of these children is an additional goal that seems unexpected yet necessary. We want to adopt this school, support these families and teachers so that Third Street Elementary can be a place where great things can happen in the smallest moments of a child’s day.
If you want to support Third Creek Elementary please visit https://makeanimpactnow.org/donate