Knox Middle School teacher raises money for school washing machine
SALISBURY — There are lots of reasons a student might be struggling in class, but Knox Middle School teacher Anita Curry is determined that lack of a clean school uniform won’t be one of them.
“Having a clean uniform shouldn’t be something you have to worry about when you should be focusing on the school work that’s in front of you,” she said
The seventh-grade language arts teacher recently started a GoFund Me campaign to raise money for a school washer and dryer after she noticed that students were consistently missing class because of uniform noncompliance.
When asked, students told Curry that their mom “didn’t wash clothes this week” or flat out admitted that they didn’t have a clean uniform to wear.
Students who don’t meet uniform requirements are not allowed in the classroom. They have to wait in the office for a parent to bring them a new set of clothes, or they spend the day in an “alternate setting,” formerly known as in-school suspension. Neither is a good option for a child.
“You’re somewhere else other than where you need to be,” Curry said.
But if a parent works during the day, there may be no one to bring the student a fresh uniform — and the policy doesn’t eliminate the original problem.
“You can’t change if you don’t have anything clean,” Curry said.
Some of Curry’s students were missing class two to three times a week, simply because they didn’t have clean clothes.
It’s an issue that can cause students who may already be weak readers to fall behind in class, or cause them to become frustrated with school. It can also negatively affect a child’s self-esteem or result in bullying.
“You have all these factors,” Curry said. “That’s why I’m just like, if we could eliminate one. Regardless of if they use it or not, it’s there.
School administrators gave Curry the green light to get a washer and dryer for student use. Initially, she’d hoped to get the units donated but didn’t have any luck. So she turned to crowd-funding sites like GoFund Me and Donors Choose.
“We have to stop thinking and we actually have to do,” she said.
The plan is to get a washer-dryer set — preferably industrial-size — and install it on campus in Knox’s alternative learning center. The room is out of the way and has plenty of space, Curry said.
The units would be open to families for use, free of charge, after school and on weekends. While families could feasibly use the units to do any wash, “our primary concern is for uniforms,” Curry said.
Hopefully, the units will be funded and installed before the start of the school year. School staff members plan to reach out first to families who have needed assistance programs before, then open the area to the rest of the school community.
Curry hopes it will make a difference.
“When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you do great things,” she said.
Contributions can be made at www.gofundme.com/KnoxCaresKnoxStrong.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.
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