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With Thousands Of Homeless Students, This District Put Help Right In Its Schools

Cornelia Li for NPR

Mike Moran, the principal at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas, says oftentimes when students are homeless, they're too embarrassed to tell anyone.

"A lot of times it is revealed that there's a temporary living situation, they're in a motel, they're now staying with an aunt and uncle," he says.

Principal Moran has heard similar stories about 50, or so, kids at his school, just one of dozens of high schools in the district. That's why Dallas schools have put something called a drop-in center at nearly every high school in the district.

At Bryan Adams, the drop-in center is a converted classroom that offers a lot that a homeless student might need: coffee, packaged foods, deodorant, a new backpack, even counseling. Some local non-profits lend supplies and volunteers.

"They're trying to make ends meet and are having a hard time making it," Moran says about his students. Across the district, there are an estimated 3,600 homeless students.

Moran suspects this drop-in center could serve up to 200 kids at Bryan Adams, about 10 percent of the student body, where 90 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Jody Martin works at the school and hopes word spreads quickly about the center, "I mean, even if it's a kid just hearing that 'Hey, there's, you know, muffins and apple juice,' and they're going to know there are resources out there."

Martin grew up in Australia and says she wishes she'd had a drop-in center as a kid. "I didn't' have support at home ... You just need to know someone cares, because you don't have that at home."

Kameron is a senior at Bryan Adams — we aren't using his last name to protect his privacy — and he calls the drop-in center a big deal.

Especially, he says, for kids without parents in the picture. "It also helps them if they need food, or they can't stay with their friends ... then help them go to a homeless shelter."

Kameron has needed all those services himself. He says his dad has been out of the picture for years and he had to leave home when things got bad with his mom. At that point, he qualified as homeless and needed help. He's now back home with his mom and is thinking ahead to college.

"I am shooting for something outside of the state – something new, pretty much," he says.

Copyright 2021 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues. Heâââ
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