For some students, extensive course offerings, extra-curricular choices and pre-employment training opportunities just aren’t enough to reach school success. Outside circumstances that weigh on a student’s mind can have a detrimental effect on his or her education. Brad Lampe, the Instructional Coach for Clarke Schools, heard from teachers time after time that they wished there was an organization that could help students beyond the typical school day, and so the Student-Teacher Assistance Team (STAT) was created.
Made up of 14 teachers and administrators at Clarke Schools, STAT was built to identify and meet the needs of students who require more than the curriculum can offer. At-risk students are paired with a teacher to build and strengthen a bond with the school through emotional support and assistance. There are four categories of need determined by the Student-Teacher Assistance Team with help from the school counselors’ offices:
- Level 1 – Students with suicidal ideation/Living with or having backgrounds of abuse
- Level 2 – Students living in poverty
- Level 3 – Students trying to deal with family or identity issues
- Level 4 – Students at risk of failing or dropping out of school
The STAT program was kicked off at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, but it was soon realized that emotional support wouldn’t really help the students living in poverty. A food and clothing pantry run strictly for Clarke students and their families was established as the most effective way to offer assistance. While there is already a food and clothing pantry downtown available to the citizens of Osceola, the Clarke School Pantry is meant to provide food and proper clothing to students and their families so they can focus on their education rather than whether or not they or their parents will get to eat that day.
The pantry is managed by Brad Lampe, Jean Bahls and Becky Jones-Webb, without whose hard work and passion it would never have come to life. Mike Sitzman of Cross Ministries was instrumental in creating the pantry through generous donations, including storage tubs, hanging hardware and barrels of hangers to organize and display donations. The pantry has also recently won a grant to purchase a refrigerator to store perishable food items and was able to repurpose shelving from the library remodel that was recently completed. STAT runs the pantry strictly through community contributions, with no money from school district and by donating their own time.
The goal of the pantry is to fill in the gaps that keep students living in poverty from succeeding at school,” said Brad Lampe. “When you only have one or two outfits suitable to wear to school or you’re worrying about your parents and siblings going to bed hungry, it can be a real challenge to focus on classes and homework and the experience of school. We want to ease that worry.”
The pantry started at the end of April, opening each Friday after school for an hour. Since then, STAT has been able to assist 35 families with sufficient clothing and food, and hope to be able to continue that assistance throughout the summer, opening their doors each Monday afternoon from 4-5pm. With students out of school for the summer and not receiving a school lunch or breakfast, more and more families are in need of meals for home.
There has been such appreciation from the families we’ve been able to help,” said Brad. “There is no entitlement and everyone who has come in has taken only what they need. The “Thank yous” you get from the families who come to the pantry are a tone of gratitude you don’t normally see. It’s in their words and their eyes, and we know we’re really making a difference.”