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Greenfield Schools Ready to Meet Homeless Students’ Needs

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GREENFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Local school systems are getting ready for the opening day of classes. In Greenfield, they are also preparing for an additional challenge of educating a number of homeless students who are living in motels in town.

This is not a new challenge for Greenfield. They’ve experienced it before, and this year, the school system again opens its doors to these needy students.

Right now, officials say there are nearly 100 students living in motels in Greenfield. That number is a very fluid one because the homeless families can come and go.

Robin Sherman is executive director of the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevlopment Authority. They contract with the state to find housing for homeless families and then work with the school department to educate the school-age children.

“They are in very difficult situations. Some are homeless due to domestic violence, or due to a tragedy in the family. It’s an extremely difficult siuation for children in particular to be in,” Sherman says.

Jordana Harper is the new Superintendent of Schools in Greenfield. She began her job on July 1 and is ready for the challenge.

“It’s definitely a challenge, because as I said, it can be challenging to anticipate. At the same time, the real challenge is on these students in this situation through no fault of their own, and they’re arriving here and what they need is a quality education like every student,” Harper adds.

The clock is ticking on the first day of school in Greenfield. Students will be back in class on Tuesday, September 2.

While there are now 96 school children living on motels who are likely to enter the Greenfield school system, that number could change by the time school opens in two weeks because this is a fluid population.

In the meantime, the school system is ready to educate those children.

Harper explains, “Our goal is to make sure the moment they walk in the door, they’re welcomed, they’re cared for, and intellectually challenged and know that it’s a safe place to be.”

As for the grade level of those children living in motels, they are kindergaren through grade 12, but most of them are in elementary schools.


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