School administrators in Worcester, Massachusetts, are improving student performance and behavior with a washer and dryer.
After seeing students come to school in soiled clothing or the same clothing day after day, the principal decided to help.
Sullivan Middle School and its principal, Dr. Josephine Robertson, raised enough funds to purchase the machines which were added to the building this year.
The school started helping its low income students, who make up 80 percent of the school population, by collecting clothing they could have.
That only addressed half the problem, Robertson said.
"Students still needs to clean that clothing, so I figured, 'OK, the next best thing to do is to get a washer-dryer,'" she said.
Due in part to the addition of the machines, Robertson said she sees a difference in the students.
"We have had a significant improvement in our attendance record," said Robertson.
The school's wraparound coordinator, Ivelis Macaruso, said some students don't have access to washing machines.
"Laundry can get expensive, and not all of our students have access to that, or transportation," said Macaruso.
Students discreetly bring their laundry to school in a backpack and run on a tight schedule to complete their load of laundry, never crossing paths.
"During lunch, they have their lunch, then they can come down and switch their clothes from the washer to the dryer," said Macaruso. "At the end of the day, we fold it and they take it home."
Macaruso helps students address non-academic learning barriers so when it's time to learn, they can focus.
"It empowers them," she said. "They like doing the laundry. They feel more comfortable and they are happier."
On average, the school helps with about 10 loads of laundry a week, and the number of students using the machine varies daily.
The superintendent of schools is now partnering with UMass to add washing machines in four other schools throughout the district.
Robertson couldn't be happier to help students succeed.
"We are social, we are emotional, we are physical," said Robertson. "We are all of these things, and when each and every element of the child is supported, then we have a successful person."