Interview with Principal Short from Sterling Elementary
This December, one of St. Matthew's school liaisons, Ann Lowden, had the opportunity to interview the Principal for Sterling Elementary, Mrs. Jennifer Short, to hear first hand the impact the St. Matthew's community has had on the school.
Ann: What do you love about Sterling Elementary?
Principal Short: Our community is so special. Our parents value their children’s education, and as a staff we feel honored that they entrust us to do what is best for their children. Our families are hard working and invested; they value working alongside us to best serve their children.
Ann: How has the current economic climate made it more challenging to educate students?
Principal Short: We have so many families hurting right now. Finances are tight (which is an understatement), and to find affordable housing and the resources they need is a true challenge. We seek to secure resources for our families as much as possible; we are blessed that our staff is willing to go the extra mile and invest the extra time with servant hearts.
Ann: How does support from the community help ensure student success?
Principal Short: Our school is the hub for our school community, but the funding we have doesn’t meet basic needs for families who are in need. We rely on our community to support our students. Many of our families receive their food supply from the school to allow their income to go toward rent and electric bills. For families in desperate need of resources turn to the school for help. If our students are well rested and well fed, they are better able to concentrate in school. Resources for mental health needs, for example, is also a necessity to ensure students are available for learning while they’re with us.
We often are able to meet new families to our school and supply them with coats, school supplies, and pantry items thanks to you all at St. Matthew’s. It is very comforting for our families to meet us, share their needs, and be able to receive resources that are already housed within our school. St. Matthew’s has also been extremely helpful in providing funds to families in need of utility support. They have been able to support more than one of our families on several occasions.
Ann: How does support from organizations like St. Matthew's help teachers and administrators?
Principal Short: Somehow, we have to provide for our families when we know they’re in need. When we have community partners, it relieves school staff from seeking resources (which often isn’t successful depending on the need and timing) as well as relieves school staff from using their own funds to provide.
Ann: Is there anything you want the community to know about Sterling Elementary? How can we continue to support the school in meaningful ways?
Principal Short: First, we appreciate our community. The families we serve are extraordinary. They desire to raise their children with strong values. Our families and our students are incredibly resilient. I can’t even find a word to describe how strong they are for overcoming all they have, many of them. If you knew their personal stories, you would be in awe and see that they are true survivors. I am so thankful for every ounce of effort and resource our community partners pour into our school. None of us—parents, educators, etc.—can do it alone; we need each other. Our children are our future, and I am so thankful you see their value and are so willing to provide in the way you do.
Thank you again for all that you and St. Matthew’s do for us! We really appreciate your support. - Rebecca Garcia, MSW School Social Worker Sterling Elementary