Carey Arensberg, a fourth grade teacher from South Alabama, is making a huge impact in the lives of her students. How? By setting up a “care closet” that offers personal-care items for any students who need them. We talked to Arensberg about her care closet and how it works.
Arensberg first got the idea for the care closet because she noticed students coming to school with hoods on because they were embarrassed by their hair. So, she began supplying hair products to help them feel better about themselves.
Arensberg says, “I figured that if they needed hair-care products, there must be other items that could be beneficial to them that I could keep in the closet. I thought about the most essential items they people need, and went from there.” By starting a care closet filled with personal care and food items items, students can be more focused during the school day.
The care closet evolved to provide deodorant, lip balm, socks, toothbrushes, snacks, and more. Mrs. Arensberg began by purchasing a few items herself, and the closet has grown thanks to an Amazon Wish List.
See what’s in the care closet:
This closet has made a huge difference. Mrs. Arensberg says, “It has helped build such a strong sense of trust and community. Students are able to have their physiological needs met, which allows them to relax and focus on their schoolwork, instead of what they may be lacking.”
Students use the closet daily.
They may be using lotion, getting a new pair of socks, or taking home mac and cheese for a meal. Mrs. Arensberg opens the care closet in the mornings so students feel ready to take on the day whether they need to fix their hair or grab a ChapStick. In the afternoons, the closet opens again for students to grab items to take home or get a sticker reward they earned during the day. This way, other students don’t know if their classmate is getting a reward they earned or taking food home. Learn more about care closet management in this video.
The students are thankful to have their needs met.
Mrs. Arensberg told us a story that particularly stood out. A student told her “When my socks match, I just feel more put together. I don’t have to worry about people noticing when they don’t match.” Something as simple as a pair of clean, matching socks can make such an impact. Students feel more confident in themselves and can focus on learning when the most basic of needs are met. Kids most often come back to the closet for ChapStick, socks, or to fix their hair in the mirror.