"To this day, you will never hear me say that I've had bad students, because I haven’t. I have had students who have made bad choices simply because they are children who are trying to deal with huge, unpleasant emotions and feelings but are unable to communicate about those things because, 99% of the time, they don’t know how to. Behavior that my students demonstrated in class was just what I could see. I couldn’t see what was under the surface (AKA - the driving forces behind their behavior).
I didn’t understand their behavior but I knew that beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. Keeping that in mind, I knew that I had to figure out their needs if I ever wanted to make any progress with their behavior.
I brought in food for my kids. I did their laundry. Those things were doable. If they didn’t get food from me, the cafeteria offered free breakfast and lunch to all students. If they didn’t have a clean uniform, students were always encouraged to go to the family resource center to get a clean set of clothes. The “basic needs” seemed to be met. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something.
I became more vigilant than usual because I wanted to pinpoint what need it was that I wasn’t seeing. That’s when I noticed how often many of my students were tired. I even had a student who would come in so exhausted she would sleep under my desk for over an hour first thing when she got to school, otherwise, it would be nearly impossible for her to make it through the day. That's when I realized the need that wasn’t being checked off of the ‘basic needs’ list: sleep."
I created Project Z of the Lowcountry to try and help level the playing field for all students regardless of their race, age, or neighborhood they live in. Project Z wants to change the lives of children here in our community. In my opinion, if there’s one thing that can end poverty, it’s education. By providing a bed, we will be providing children with the sleep they need to be successful in school. With that academic success, the American Dream can become an attainable reality for students right here in our community."
- Jane Elieff, Lowcountry Teacher and Project Z of the Lowcountry Founder + CEO
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