By Paul Burton

WORCESTER (CBS) – At the Sullivan Middle School in Worcester, administrators are taking a clean, fresh approach to help deal with absenteeism.

At Sullivan, a primary concern is clean clothes. Kids are missing school because they are embarrassed they have nothing clean to wear. “Some students don’t have transportation to get to the laundromat and it impacts what they feel in school and distracts them in the classroom,” Wrap Around Coordinator Ivelis Macaruso said.

Sullivan Middle School Principal Josephine Robertson (WBZ-TV)

Through the help of several donations, Principal Josephine Robertson was able to purchase a washer and dryer for students at school who cannot afford the laundromat. Here students come discreetly and wash their own clothes. If they have nothing at all, there is plenty of clothes to choose from in the closet.

“It’s empowering for the students to come in and put on fresh clothing. They do their own laundry it’s not a hand out,” Robertson said.

“All the sneakers and clothes have been donated,” Robertson added. “The school goes through about ten loads of laundry a week. The program has been so successful they plan to expand into other public school here in Worcester.”

Sullivan Middle School Wrap Around Coordinator Ivelis Macaruso shows donated clothes (WBZ-TV)

Robertson says since they offered the laundry program, they have seen a decrease in absentees. “Kids feel more comfortable and they are happier and they are more able to focus on school and not distracted by how they look,” Macaruso said.

Robertson says some of her greatest lessons are being taught outside the classroom. “My philosophy toward education must encompass the whole child. So if I am just educating you in math and science I am not doing anything yet because I have not touched your values. I have to touch your values and inner core,” Robertson said.

Paul Burton