The level of socio-economic and family support children bring to school with them can have a major impact on their success as students. When parents are stressed by lack of education, low wage jobs, and are struggling to survive, they are hard pressed to adequately prepare their children. Thus schools find it necessary to provide additional resources to bring students along at the expected rate, academically, behaviorally, and socially. Where do those resources come from? School administrators may be able to identify needs, but budgets are notoriously slim, especially in Arizona, making it very difficult to follow through with strategies to reduce the gap.

Washington School District, in recognizing the needs, is advocating for each of their schools to build a partnership that includes faith communities, businesses, and community organizations. These partners work in collaboration with school staff to identify a school’s challenges and plan for ways of helping to provide specific resources to assist in meeting these needs.

Maryland Elementary School, 21st Avenue and Maryland, where we plan to become involved, has an enrollment of approximately 850 in kindergarten-8th grade. Additionally two Head Start classes and a special needs preschool class meet on campus. Maryland is a total Title I School, with a majority of students below the federal poverty level, so that all students are provided with free breakfast and lunch. In the past year there have been close to 100 refugee students, with about 24 languages spoken. The school is majority Hispanic, with significant percentage of both Native American and African/African-American students. The mobility rate during last year was about 30%. The After School Academy provides additional academic support for at risk students, and the Parks and Recreation Program provides after school care. In addition the turnover rate of faculty has been quite high in the past few years.Capture

What can UUCP do to help build a better learning situation and community at Maryland School?

  1. Our partnership is a work in progress, and currently includes the Beatitudes Campus, where a number of our senior members reside, Church of the Beatitudes, CORE Institute, and Fox Restaurant Concepts.  We need help with expanding this partnership, drawing in additional businesses and organizations.
  2. We would like to help UUCP members match their own gifts to the needs of the school, such as
  • Providing school supplies and small rewards for academic and behavioral improvement
  • Tutoring students, including  English  language learners, during the school day or after school
  • Assisting with school garden classes and garden maintenance
  • Helping staff at family events four or five times during the year that support academics and positive family interaction –  Bingo night, Sports and Fitness , Math Games, Reading Restaurant
  • Initiating a program to provide appreciation and encouragement to teachers in order to help build staff community and stability  of teacher retention
  • Making Arizona  tax credit donations to Maryland School
  • Beginning to locate information and contacts that will help us to better understand  how we might advocate for improved  education  for all students
  • Other plans as they unfold – and we would welcome your ideas

As you can see the task ahead is immense, but so is the resourcefulness of people in this congregation.  Our individual gifts and talents when brought together in the spirit of respect, kindness, and justice become immense in their impact.  We need you, and ask that you think about where you might you fit into this partnership.

We will begin our active work in July with a collection of supplies and a sign up enlisting your volunteer assistance.  Please check at the back table on Sundays for a list of both supplies and volunteer opportunities, or email Cathy Kim, maryland@phoenixuu.org for both lists.