by Olivia Booth
To some students, being wakened by a throng of teachers on a summer morning appears reminiscent of a scene out of a horror film. However, on the morning of Friday, September 2nd, Henrico High School teachers showed up to their students’ neighborhoods provoking not fear, but gratitude.
How is this possible? Well, it helped that they brought free school supplies with them.
A group of about 30 staff members from Henrico High volunteered for the second annual “Neighborhood School Supplies Visit/Tour”. The event is spearheaded by Mr. Parvaiz, a physics teacher; though former principal, Dr. Monroe first desired a community outreach service by the school.
Magellan Health partnered with the school, while Staples and Target donated supplies such as paper, notebooks and pencils. With all 180 parcels loaded onto a school bus, teachers visited Essex Village and Richfield Place clad in Henrico T-shirts.
As one teacher said, “It’s awesome that we come into the neighborhoods and give them [supplies] not only to high school students, but to whoever needs them”, and that they did. All supplies had been handed out by the end of the visit.
Despite this, many people seemed hesitant to take the supplies. When teachers were asked why they thought this was, one said “we teach here, we don’t live here”, meaning maybe if familiar members of the community held the bags, families would be more inclined to accept.
A few teachers mentioned improving the organization of the event by handing out flyers in advance, while some believed that the presentation could be more elaborate, such as Mrs. Mitchell, a health and physical education teacher who suggested an appearance by the Henrico High drumline.
Another aspect which may have produced some shyness in the receivers is the escort, police officer, Mr. Mallory. Mr. Parvaiz explained that when entering any neighborhood to which you don’t belong, arriving with a police officer is an excellent precaution.
However, in light of police brutality in the news, perhaps the police presence was intimidating for the inhabitants in Essex and Richfield. When asked about this, Parvaiz made clear that the police officers are encouraged to watch from afar, “like mother hen” in order to limit this tension.
All-in-all the sentiment is admirable. Staff at Henrico High School place much importance on cultivating relationships with their students for the benefit of their education in and out of the classroom. In this way, bringing teachers into intimate environments (such as neighborhoods) is taking a step in the right direction.