Join Us! Be a Mensch!
We are very excited to announce — our program is expanding! As our successful partnership with the Wheatley Education Campus has matured over the past several years, the needs of the school have evolved into requiring more special project support and less monthly support for basic classroom items. Your amazing generosity and encouragement amply demonstrated Project Mensch’s ability to help more disadvantaged students in our area. Confident in our ability to branch out, but not overburden our generous Mensches, we began seeking an additional partner. After lots of research and careful consideration, we are thrilled to announce that we have a new partner-Highland Elementary School located in Silver Spring, MD.
Before we share what attracted us to Highland Elementary School, we wish to assure you that Project Mensch is absolutely continuing its partnership with Wheatley. We continue to be in close communication with Wheatley; this change in how we are supporting Wheatley stems from WEC’s changing population. When our association with Wheatley began, they had approximately 550 students; due in large part to the growth of neighborhood charter schools, they now have 350 students. This enrollment change has helped Wheatley considerably in addressing many issues plus WEC is now training parents for a new Parent Teacher Association. Per the request of the WEC administration, Project Mensch will be supporting the following:
• community-wide Back to School BBQ
• school-wide Halloween festival
• student visits to the eye doctor & purchase of glasses when needed
• end-of-the-year book fair
• classroom volunteers
• Spring musical production of “Annie”
We might also be called on occasion to purchase uniform items, snacks or special teaching resources. However, our monthly Amazon Registry will mainly reflect the requests of the staff to support the students of Highland Elementary.
So, let us introduce you to Highland Elementary School (pre-k through 5th grade.) Highland is located in Silver Spring and its 575 students are predominantly Latino. The school is designated as Title 1 with approximately 80% of its students qualifying for FARMS (Free and Reduced Price Meals program) and just over half of the children participate in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programming. The Highland community is engaged and tightly connected for several reasons. First, the children walk to school; no busses are needed as all the students live in the neighborhood. The school also benefits from a School Based Health Center (SBHC), which provides – in its own words – a “comprehensive range of services including health, mental health, social services and other services that promote positive youth development and support families and students to be healthy and successful in school.” According to school administrators, Highland families view the school as the communal center of their neighborhood since so many valuable programs and social events take place on the campus.
Our interactions with Highland teachers and administrators have been top notch. The school is well positioned to receive our support plus the administrators are enthusiastic and highly appreciative of this new relationship. (To paraphrase their response, they can’t believe their good fortune.) Principal Scott Steffan, who is both widely respected by his staff and totally committed to his students, especially impresses us. We learned that many of his colleagues hope to move-up the ladder and aspire to be high school principals. Mr. Steffan, however, wants to remain in an elementary school to help ensure that our littlest students are prepared for success going forward. He was straightforward with us; “we need to be at our best every day from eight until three; education is the only way out for these kids.”
We are thrilled that Project Mensch is able to expand and we purposely sought to partner with a school in Montgomery County. We believe it makes lots of sense to share our support in DC and MoCo since the Temple Sinai community is pretty evenly split between these two areas. And, for those of us who have children in MoCo schools, we have definitely seen the dramatic rise in student population-many of whom could use our help.
We hope you’re inspired to contribute after learning about our new partner. Please be on the lookout for the first shopping email of this school year in mid-October! Until then, thank you so much for your continued commitment to Project Mensch. Because of your generosity, we can continue our support for Wheatley and welcome the Highland family into our village. We are so excited for this next phase of Project Mensch and we can’t wait to get started!
Wish to join? Want to learn more? Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to call us. Thanks in advance for your generosity and support.
Elizabeth Roos (202-909-6670) and Kim Tilley (202-744-8436)
Wheatley kindergarten students enjoying snacks and wearing new uniforms provided by Project Mensch.
Wheatley students show their appreciation for all the goodies provided by Project Mensch.
Hannah Masling collected 400 books for Wheatley as part of her Bat Mitzvah service project. She also held a bake sale where she raised enough money to purchase 7 Leap Pads for the Wheatley students.