By Jill Getman, Homeless Tutor, Independence School District, Missouri

Through my district’s Title 1 Set-Aside and McKinney-Vento grant, I have the opportunity to provide weekly tutoring to children who are living in the only family homeless shelter located in our school district.  The shelter is set up family style, with an apartment-like setting. Families can stay up to 90 days to get the help they need. During their stay, adults must attend weekly classes on budgeting and living healthy lifestyles. While the adults are learning those skills, the children have the chance to learn, as well.  Each week for an hour, 5-8 students living in the shelter are able to meet with me to work on homework, reading, or math skills. One student, in particular, would always ask for more challenging assignments to work on throughout the week, for extra “homework”.  The next week she would run to her room to get her homework packet for me.  She was always so engaged and willing to learn.

Over the school holiday break, I knew it could be hard to entice children to “come to tutoring.” Thinking of something the children would enjoy was easy: books!  Many of the students staying at the shelter have close to nothing of their own. But with Title 1 Set-Aside and McKinney-Vento grant money, I was able to provide two hours of tutoring with holiday snacks, free books, and free blankets to 10 appreciative students over their holiday break. It was so rewarding to see the joy on their faces when they realized they could keep the books and blankets. 

There are 1.35 million students in the United States that are homeless. Children who experience homelessness are at least twice as likely to be suspended from school, and 87% more likely to drop out of school. Education is the key to ending homelessness, and if I can help one student in their journey, I’ve done my job.  Each week when I walk in, I know I will see new faces; but more often than not, I see a face I have seen the previous week, along with a hug and an “I’m so glad you are back!”  My hope for the kids I work with at the shelter (and for all students) is that they will always have a teacher who is willing to go the extra mile for them.

For more information on how Title I Part A can support students experiencing homelessness, please see the resources below:

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