We’ve all heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but outside of graduate school how many of us actually take time to think about it in our own classrooms? Many schools today are not only charged with meeting the academic needs of students, but also their basic needs, too.
Across the United States, and even here in Virginia, school leaders are finding innovative ways to ensure that students have enough to eat, have a caring adult in their lives, and have clean clothes appropriate to the weather. Title I schools are now in almost every community with free and reduced meals seen as the norm. The challenge arises when students leave school for the weekend. Too frequently, as noted by principal Pam Smith in School As Sanctuary, students return to school Monday morning having not eaten a proper meal all weekend. To combat this issue many schools pack bookbags of food for students to take home on the weekend.
However, the crisis doesn’t end with ensuring students are fed. Chronic absenteeism is a bane to any student’s performance. To address this problem Martinsville City Schools have partnered with the University of Virginia to establish telehealth clinics at two of its schools. All of the telehealth services are free and provide students with access to healthcare professionals when they need it. Transportation issues and the costs associated with seeing a doctor are no longer barriers to student healthcare.
Perhaps the most effective and also the most meaningful impact school leaders can have on students is ensuring that every student feels safe and knows that there is an adult who cares. As Rita Pierson explains in her TED Talk, being in the classroom is not enough. As teachers and administrators we must strive every day to build positive relationships with our students. Going the extra mile may take time and energy, but as Peirson states, “We’re educators. We were born to make a difference.”
In closing, I leave you with this final question-how are you meeting your students’ needs? What are your thoughts and observations? Please feel free to comment in the section below.
McLeod, S. A. (2016). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Noland, J. (2015, Oct 11). School as sanctuary. Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA), p. 1A.. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/1586F73421A714F0?p=WORLDNEWS
Pierson, Rita. (2013, May). Every kid needs a champion, from https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion#t-444417
Powell, M. (2016, September 09). Telehealth centers planned at two city schools. Retrieved October 04, 2016, from http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/news/telehealth-centers-planned-at-two-city-schools/article_2e8f75e2-5696-5658-b8e6-7295de781670.html