By Kevin O’Rourke
Like most teachers, the staff at Capt. James Daly Elementary School on Brandermill Drive in Germantown has been going above and beyond the required classroom teaching, but for six years now they’ve been going the extra mile to help out the students most in need.
As parents and students await the beginning of the school year, Daly Elementary School Principal Nora Dietz and her staff take a couple hours to handout backpacks and school supplies to the students who live in the Middlebrook Trailer Park community near the school. This year the outreach event took place on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Fifteen teachers and several Towson University student teachers came out to help.
“Last night was awesome,” said Dietz on Thursday. “We gave out 150 backpacks.” The backpacks, which included pencils, notebooks, and pencil holders were provided by Montgomery County Public Schools Give BACKpacks Campaign.
Dietz explained that 135 Daly Elementary School students live in the mobile trailer home park. In the first three years, the teachers went into the neighborhood and handed out books and schools supplies. The backpacks were added three years ago.“We even gave extra backpacks to former students who are now in middle or high school. We could not say now when they asked for a backpack,” she said.
“I have to commend my staff for giving their time to support the communities we serve,” said Principal Dietz. “We are a committed bunch and I am proud to be their principal. The kids and parents love seeing the teachers.”
This year, Daly staff invited Dennis Hackett, from the MCPS Nutrition Services Department to come along and help parents with questions regarding the MCPS Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) Program. “The outreach provides parents with the opportunity to fill out the FARMS forms. We set up a table and my staff answered questions and helped parents fill out the forms,” said Dietz. “The forms can be challenging and we wanted to help.”
Dietz said the forms are also important in determining if the school will remain a Title I school in Maryland. Title I, Part A, is a federal program that provides financial assistance to local school systems and schools with high percentages of lower-income children to provide additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects.
All 24 school systems throughout Maryland receive Title I funds, which support extra instruction in reading and mathematics, additional teachers, instruction materials, as well as after-school and summer programs to extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.
According to the MCPS, nearly 52,000 MCPS students receive free and reduced-price meals—an indicator of poverty—and many MCPS families struggle to afford basic necessities like school supplies. The Give BACKpacks campaign was created in response to this growing need. Last year, MCPS raised over $100,000 and nearly 15,000 students at 41 MCPS schools received backpacks filled with school supplies. For more information and to donate, visit www.mcpsgivebackpacks.org