In 2011, the Mastery Charter School Mann Elementary community got together for a winter coat drive. It went well and students, families and teachers did a great job of bringing in coats, scarves and hats (some were even handmade!) to distribute throughout the community. Katherine Paul, Mann’s social worker, was not sure what the next year would look like, but, she knew that it could only get stronger by getting more partners involved.
Meanwhile, Ivan Haskell, Mastery’s Director of Social and Psychological Services, was forming a partnership with Cradles to Crayons in West Conshohocken. Cradles to Crayons gives low-income children, from birth through age 12, the essential items they need to thrive - at home, at school and at play. Mastery became a distribution partner for Cradles to Crayons and hosts community drives to collect donations. During the year, Mastery staff, mainly social workers and school based therapists, donate a day of their professional development and volunteer in the organization’s warehouse sorting and organizing donations.
When school started in the fall, Ms. Paul remembered her experience with that partnership and connected the dots to the coat drive. She organized Mann Elementary’s community to get involved donating or receiving coats, winter clothes and books and toys. It was the perfect partnership between an organization that had items to donate and a community that was in need. Overall, about 100 students were able to receive up to six outfits, including some shoes and pants that complete Mastery’s school uniform.
Cradles to Crayons and Mann Elementary illustrates the power of a successful community school partnership.