Homeless kids across the country face unimaginable obstacles when it comes to something as simple as trying to attend school each day.
Fortunately, one school in San Diego is helping relieve that burden by providing stability and a number of special resources for its students.
The Monarch School is one of a few schools in the United States that caters specifically to kids who are homeless, giving them access to showers, laundry facilities, meals, after school programs, and, of course, a full roster of academic classes.
“How can children focus on school if their tummies are growling, their shoes don’t fit, and they don’t even know where they are going to be sleeping the next day?” Michelle Candland, a Rotary club member, told The Rotarian.
The Monarch’s doors first opened to children in 1987 under the combined auspices of the San Diego County Office of Education and the juvenile court system. Back then, kids had to make their way through crowds of panhandlers and drug dealers to get inside the door of the two-room store front.
Thanks to the efforts of Cortland and the local Rotary club, the school eventually moved into a 10,000 square foot warehouse. Classrooms were crowded, though, so the Rotary club got behind a 15-million-dollar fundraising effort, bought the old San Diego Housing Commission building, and set about upgrading the 51-thousand square foot facility.
As the environment improved, so did attendance. Students’ scores on the California Academic Performance Index are slowly creeping up, and grades are improving.
Monarch School has been described as “public service at its best” by outside agencies. The name “Monarch” was chosen by the students, referencing the action of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
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