ASHTON — Principals, counselors, and social workers at Ashton Elementary are working to show their students support in all areas of life.
Like many schools in Mason County, Ashton has a clothing closet and a food assistance program available for its students. The clothing closet stocks cold weather gear — such as hats, coats, scarves and gloves — as well as basic clothing items and shoes. The closet operates off donations from individuals in the community and churches, according to school social worker, Amanda Tarbett.
Tarbett said the closet carries sizes from child size five through adult extra-large. The donations that cannot be used, due to being too large, will be sent to Hannan High School. Tarbett said the size they often find themselves in need of is girls size seven to 10.
In addition to the clothing closet, the school stocks hygiene items, which include feminine products, shampoo and conditioner, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and they also have a shower that students can use along with a clothes washer and dryer.
Each Friday of the school year, the school sends around 70 students home with a snack pack. The packs of food help to supplement children who live in low-income households and might not get enough food when they are not in school. Tarbett said many of the students at Ashton Elementary are in foster care. There are no requirements to receive a snack pack. Tarbett said a parent or guardian can call the school and ask to be put on the list.
The school works to provide an effective learning environment for its students by providing a “sensory walk.” Tarbet said on both ends of the school, a section of hallway has a sensory wall and floor with activities for students. These activities help to calf students who may be overstimulated or overwhelmed. The activities give them something to focus on.
“It’s things to help them move and get their mind off what is going on,” Tarbett said. Activities include an ABC walk, words to practice, puzzles, LEGOs to climb on, etc.
Tarbett said they never know what a child is dealing with, and sometimes when they struggle with something in school, it comes out as anger, frustration, or they shut down. When this happens, the teacher will call the principal, a counselor or the social worker. They will take the child on a walk along the sensory walls to get their mind off of it and hopefully the student will talk about the issues they may be having.
The wall was put in last year by parent volunteers at the school.
Ashton Elementary also has a “kindness wall” to remind students to be kind and helpful. The theme is “Be the ‘I’ in kind.” When a students does a kind thing, they get their picture taken in the ‘I’ space.
Tarbett said they know the importance of keeping students in school and they do what they can to provide care for their students.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.