A principal in New Jersey is being praised for giving his students a fresh lease on academic life.
After observing a high percentage of the school’s students missing class, as well as social media posts bullying students for the state of their clothing, Principal Akbar Cook of West Side High School in Newark had a laundromat installed on the property to offer those in need a way of cleaning their belongings, reported CNN
“These are kids, good kids who want to learn, that are missing three to five days a month because they were being bullied because they were dirty,” Cook explained. “I even changed the school uniform to darker colors so they could go more days without cleaning them, but even with that, students were struggling to have them look clean enough to attend.”
Cook managed to secure $20,000 in funding from the PSEG Foundation and with that money he converted the football locker room into a laundry room, complete with five washing machines and five dryers and an inventory of various detergents donated from across the country through the school’s Amazon wish list page.
The school’s social worker, Jamila Hammond, told CNN that having the facility on campus will be a game-changer for students who have had the desire to learn but felt ashamed of their clothing.
“Many times the students [have] come in because they’re embarrassed, they don’t look the same, somebody’s complaining about a body odor,” Daniel said. “I would say, ‘OK, baby, then we’re going to have to do it the old way.’ We have soap, we have water. But now with this laundry room we don’t have to do that.”
The laundromat will be open to students free of charge between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day that school is in session.