Armed with bulletin board paper, a few cans of paint and some elbow grease, a group of Drexel volunteers made a big impact at Mantua’s Morton McMichael Elementary School. Tamar Oded, project manager for community development at Drexel’s Goodwin College, recently organized a team of 40 volunteers to get the school in shape for the new school year.
Drexel’s partnerships with both Morton McMichael School and Samuel Powel Elementary School in Powelton Village are part of the University’s and President John Fry’s vision for civic engagement. The partnership with McMichael was established, says Oded, because of the school’s location, right in the University’s backyard. The school deserves some special attention, she adds, because it is “a tough school in a tough neighborhood.”
The group of volunteers spent an August day cleaning classrooms and an outdoor garden and organizing library books, many of which had been sitting in boxes for years.
“One box had a book that hadn’t been checked out since 1970,” says Oded.
The library collection needs a lot of work, Oded says, so Drexel’s iSchool has agreed to continue to work with the school until the collection is sorted and organized. Oded says a fundraiser is in the works as well to replace outdated materials in the library.
McMichael used to be a large neighborhood school until a nearby housing project was torn down, cutting the number of students in half. “But there are still close to 300 kids who deserve to learn and to come into a school that looks and feels better than last year,” says Oded.
To learn more about Drexel’s civic engagement partnerships, visit www.drexel.edu/lindycenter/.