Transforming schools, empowering students

As the U.S. economy continues to falter, many children across the country are at risk of going to school without having even basic supplies. World Vision is working in places like St. Mary’s School in East Los Angeles to help students receive a good education, even in these tough times.

Story and photos by Heidi Isaza. Edited by Elisa Casey, World Vision U.S.
Published August 19, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

St. Mary’s School is unassuming, even drab, in appearance — just another two-story brick building, surrounded by a chain-link fence and a concrete play yard in East Los Angeles.

Everything changes, however, the minute you step inside.

Bright hallways — lined with large bulletin boards covered with colorful art projects — greet students, faculty, parents, and visitors alike, giving evidence of the life, energy, excitement, and learning happening here.

“Most everything in this school is from World Vision,” says Sister Anna of St. Mary’s School.

“Everything. We have tables, we have shelves, we have school supplies, that World Vision gave,” she shares, unable to contain her emotion.

Sister Anna proudly stands in the hallway at her school, which now contains colorful art projects and bulletin boards.Now, students at this school have the resources they need to receive a quality education — and the chance at a brighter future.

Resources equal real opportunities

Two years ago, Sister Anna heard about World Vision’s warehouse, the teacher resource center, and the backpack program. Today, St. Mary’s school is a different place.

“When you first walk in, you see the big difference,” says Annette, a parent of a St. Mary’s student.

Sister Anna affirms this. “When all of these changes were made, they [the students] came and told us, ‘We have a new school.’ They feel it’s a new school because they have new things in their classroom.”

Supplies to succeed

Not only do students now have a better environment in which to learn, they also have the supplies they need to be successful in their education.

Annette shares, “The other day, Raven came home and said, ‘I have a project, but it’s okay, I have everything. My teacher gave us everything, so we don’t have to buy anything.’”

Gabriela Gonzalez teaches her eighth-grade class at St. Mary's School.Thanks to the teacher resource center, parents like Annette can enjoy working on the projects with their kids instead of worrying about how they will pay for the additional supplies.

Pencils and paper equal potential

“It feels good that poverty or lack of income is not a reason for [the kids] not to succeed,” says Gabriela, a teacher at St. Mary’s.

The supplies that she and other teachers are able to provide students with — combined with the creating of an engaging learning environment — are making a difference.

“Kids just feel a lot more confident,” she says.

Schools shaping tomorrow’s society

For Sister Anna, school is about more than test scores and memorization. It’s about cultivating the seed for society’s future.

“I always believe that when the kids are happy, they learn better, and also when the kids learn a lot, they are better prepared for the future and are better members of society,” says Sister Anna.

Raven, a student at St. Mary's School, now has the supplies she needs to complete her projects and assignments.Today, the students of St. Mary’s School are happy. They have big dreams, and now, they have the tools they need to succeed in school.

“At the end of the year, we see the difference,” says Sister Anna. “That’s why I am very, very grateful.”

Two ways you can help

With the economy continuing to flounder, many children across the United States go to school without the supplies they need to succeed. Please pray for parents who struggle to provide their children with essential educational resources during these difficult times.

Make a one-time gift that multiplies to become $150 worth of school supplies for U.S. children. Your donation will help us ship and distribute school supplies donated by generous corporate partners, like books, art supplies, videos, educational games, sports equipment, and more.