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Perspective | Creating free student resource stations for any school community

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January 2022 was the one-year anniversary of free student resource stations at Swansboro High School. The idea was born out of our desire to eliminate hunger and to ensure no student was in class without supplies and resources and too embarrassed to ask for assistance.

During the fall of 2020, we had received a large donation of school supplies from our local Walmart. We stored the supplies in an unused classroom and had them available for students who we knew were at-risk. We quickly realized that we were not turning over the supplies like we had hoped. Students were not asking for resources.

Our team decided to eliminate the asking from the equation. We purchased five acrylic wall bin systems and strategically placed them throughout our campus. They are now stocked daily by student volunteers who load a supply cart each morning and fill each free supply station.

The original supply stations included binders, loose-leaf paper, dividers, pencil packs, spiral notebooks, index cards, sticky notes, highlighters, pens, pencils, glue sticks, backpacks, granola bars, and peanut butter crackers. This year we added winter jackets and have future plans to include toiletries such as toothbrushes and deodorant.

How to replicate for your school

1. Identify supplies.

Gauge the materials that your students will need based on the grade levels you serve. Here is a basic list that would be appropriate for most middle and high school settings:

  • Binders.
  • Loose-leaf paper.
  • Spiral notebooks.
  • Dividers.
  • Index cards.
  • Sticky notes.
  • Pencils, pens, and highlighters.
  • Glue sticks.
  • Backpacks.
  • Snacks.
  • Winter jackets.

2. Partner with local businesses.

Identify your community partners to provide school supplies and resources for students.

We have not used any school funds to provide resources for students, other than the cost of the wall storage systems. In addition to our partnership with Walmart, we partnered with a local tattoo shop. Harm the Karma in Jacksonville sponsored a school supply drive in August 2021. They offered raffle tickets for each supply donated for a chance to win a free tattoo. Their efforts resulted in a semester worth of supplies for our students.

When we are running low on a supply, we simply post on our social media networks and ask for donations.

3. Share your initiative with key stakeholders.

Snacks are probably the most popular supply we offer. We had no idea how many hungry students we had sitting in our classrooms until we started loading the stations with peanut butter crackers and granola bars.

We stock each station with five to six snacks up to twice a day or about 50 to 60 items per day. They are always taken within 30 minutes of stocking. We have also received community donations to fund the snack supply from local churches, civic organizations, and friends of our school community. Simply sharing on our social media networks has produced a wealth of support for this initiative.

4. Student management of program.

At Swansboro High School, we have delegated the task of stocking the resource stations to student volunteers through organizations such as Interact and Student Council. Students receive volunteer hours for their time.

Helen Gross

Dr. Helen Gross has served as an elementary, middle, and high school principal during her 15 year career as a public school educator. She has served as the principal at Swansboro High School for the past two years and has a passion for using social emotional learning as a foundation to rigor in the classroom.