Our school community

At Seymour school, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse group of learners that each enrich the lives of all of us. We have different stories, different histories and different ideas. We all learn constantly from each other.

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The reality is is that some of us are at times struggling financially or otherwise and could use some assistance. We learn in our classrooms about being mindful of others, about how to be generous, how to be compassionate and how to be aware. Sometimes I get questions about how to help in both small and big ways. There are so many answers to that very important question but I will try and share just a few here. There are many ways to help, think about what speaks to you.

This post follows up on a letter I recently wrote. Read it here.

  1. If you or your children attend a different school, think beyond your school community. If you get a request for kleenex boxes for the classroom, you can bet other classrooms across the city need kleenex boxes. Drop off an 8 pack to a school that might need it. If your school is asking for money for field trip expenditures, ask your PAC to help fundraise and donate transportation or admission costs to another school that may not have the same means to amass funds. You get the idea.
  2. Involve your friends. Organize ideas, plans and the “nitty gritty” how to. If you want to help a school have fresh fruit snacks once a week, do it! Dropping off bags of apples is wonderful but they will need to be washed, sliced, and distributed. Could your idea be completely carried out by your group? Contact a school for permission, pitch them the plan. Show up every week with chopped fruit on trays and hands to distribute them. Even more amazing.
  3. Give of yourself. Many schools need readers and amazing, committed volunteers. They may not have the volunteers in their own communities. The Big Brothers Program needs male and female “in school” mentors. An hour a week of your time in school hours to connect with a child will change your life. Really.
  4. Every child needs books in home and in hand. Books for children birth to age 5 often are absent in homes of many of our children. Are your children finished with their beloved board books? Call up Family Places, Neighbourhood Houses, Schools that have Strong Start programs. Could someone pass on your donated books to a family?

Some more ideas? That might involve money?

  1. Some students from inner city schools are accepted to District programs at schools that do not have a hot lunch program. Some families turn down the placement exactly for this reason. Is there a district class at your school (or a neighbouring school) that could pass on gift cards (donated by you) to Buy Low, Superstore, etc. to families that may need to supplement the grocery budget?
  2. Many inner city schools have amazing athletes and sports programs organized by dedicated staff. Some of these young athletes could benefit from additional involvement in community or summer sports programs and some help with the equipment. Could you contact a school and help fund a student’s lessons/registration fees and equipment (i.e. soccer cleats or running shoes)
  3. Young students have big dreams. Are you able to help contribute to a RESP fund for a student? Many schools could help put you in touch with families. As could Community Centres. Scholarship funds, even small ones, have impact.
  4. Many students in inner city schools benefit from Speech and Language therapy, Play therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy and Counselling. For families that cannot afford to pay for this privately, the only opportunity for service is through the schools. Not all schools have all of these services. Sometimes they do because of private donors. Schools are given staffing according to school population. It doesn’t take much to figure out that an inner city school would have more need even if it has a small population. More need and less service. Does that make sense to you? Make your opinion heard. Be vocal and/or be generous. Offer to fund the services of a therapist for a specific school. Even if it is for part of a day. Challenge your friends to get involved. See what happens.

*Please note that if you do want to make a monetary donation to a school, tax receipts can be issued.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

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Do you have more ideas? Please post them in the comment section.

11 thoughts on “Our school community

  1. This makes my heart sing!! I struggled so much over the past two years and see this as a way to make children’s lives richer as well as enrich the lives of the givers…this is right out of MindUP lesson 14 – Acts of Kindness!!
    My mom used to bake squares and cookies and mail them to my class from Alberta. Getting mail like that was a BIG event filled with excitement, love and a lot of joy! I think I will get on that with some other friends and family.
    Go Ms Gelson go! xx

  2. ABSOLUTELY! The needs in schools are staggering. Your students are so incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated advocate. Thank you for this – I will definitely pass on the word.

  3. Pingback: A Teacher’s Plea « Renovating My Classroom

  4. Hi Carrie. It is beyond time that attention is drawn to the plight of many of the children in our communities. Children arriving in the middle of winter without coats or even sweaters, not fed, children arrive in kindergarten never having held a book. There is so much that can be done with so little effort. Bringing awareness is key. If I can be of help to you, please let me know. (Sorting, washing, distributing.. whatever!… I did a bit of book collecting for some East Van and Surrey Schools last year. Before that, I had no clue!)
    Warm regards. Sandra

  5. Your message has been passed to the teachers of my Richmond School. It has touched my heart. I will make that difference happen… thank you for putting things into perspective for many many readers/listeners. Thank you for your caring and compassionate nature and the amazing things you are accomplishing on a daily basis and beyond.

  6. How competitive are public schools with one another for private funding?

    I would love to see each school create a wish-list every year for items they need or programs they need funded. This could be opened to the public and/or perhaps schools in more affluent neighborhoods could help fundraise too for self-proclaimed “sister schools.”

  7. It was wonderful to read your inspiring letter for 3 reasons:
    1. It was fantastic to find a dear old friend who is following her passion and making a difference (just like I knew she would back in those Arts I days!);
    2. As someone who also works in the Downtown Eastside (I worked at the Provincial Courthouse at Main and Cordova) I see the struggles adults face all around me and can only imagine watching those struggles play out daily in the lives of our children;
    3. My son is in Grade 6 and his class are trying to figure out a way they can practically give back to the community. I was hoping to figure out a way those children could help your children in a meaningful, ongoing way. Your blog has given me some ideas.

    I am really proud of you Carrie… P.S. Mead was right. Much love, Jacinta

  8. Dear Carrie, the moment I read your letter in the paper, something in me moved and then seeing you on the news with a start of getting the support you asked for just shook me to tears. We could all see and imagine what goes on in Inner city Communities but nobody has the guts to speak up and make a difference. In my heart I said good for you Carrie, you have inspired us all. Since then I have spread the word around with quite a pride that a fellow teacher cares. I am sure everyone who read your letter thinks about you every time they open their wallet. I do too. Thank you for shaking us back to reality.
    Good luck and warm wishes
    Bilquis

  9. Please check out the program below. It supplies the best quality produce to schools thirteen times a year. Every class receives enough fresh produce like baby cukes, plum tomatoes, plums, etc. for the entire class. Our school is far from inner-city and our kids are well-fed and clothed. Your students really need to be the beneficiaries of a program like this…

    http://www.aitc.ca/bc

  10. The Big Brothers In-School Mentoring program started at Admiral Seymour Elementary School in November of 2000. There are currently six matches and 25 children waiting for a mentor. The school staff, including the teachers, principals and others are very supportive of this program. Volunteers report that they feel welcomed by everyone at the school and it’s a fun place to be. There is an entire room designated to the In-School Mentoring Program, where all the fun supplies are housed. Seymour is located at 1130 Keefer Street in Vancouver. If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor, please contact Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver at 604.876.2447 x 236. (Big Brothers In-School Mentoring Program is a friendship-based, non-academic program that matches male and female volunteers with boys and girls in elementary schools. Big and Little Buddies play games and sports, do arts and crafts or hang out in the playground. They get together for an hour a week during school hours and do not meet over the summer or during other school holidays. The program is active in all Lower Mainland school districts except New Westminster and Richmond).

  11. As much as my heart is warmed by the letters and generosity of people at the ground level in teaching, I am outraged beyond measure they are / you are forced to do this.

    It’ll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants…… and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.

    ……………………………………..

    Occupy bailout. Canadian banks got billions in help
    By Ellen Russell – | November 15, 2011

    The financial sector’s PR machine has had great success convincing folks that Canadian banks are pure as the driven snow. Their message incessantly repeats their claim there were no bailouts of Canadian banks during the 2008 financial crisis.

    http://rabble.ca/columnists/2011/11/bailed-out-any-other-name-canadian-banks-got-plenty-help

    ……………………………….

    Sitting tantalizingly in a warehouse in Winnipeg are 2,000 boxes of information about one of the most fascinating social policy experiments in Canadian history.

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/920145–goar-anti-poverty-success-airbrushed-out#article

    The experiment began in 1974. It was designed to test the concept of a guaranteed annual income in a small, fairly typical, community. Dauphin, a rural municipality of 13,000 midway between Winnipeg and Regina, was chosen at the behest of former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer.

    The city’s low-income residents were lifted and kept out of poverty, using a negative income tax. (Canada Revenue Agency topped up their income if it fell below the poverty line.) They could use the money as they chose.

    .

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