This week’s Homegrown Hero is Samuel Garrison, who has been Principal at the Camden Street School for the last eight years.
The Camden Street School is a school that serves 11 grades, and their students’ ages range from three-year-olds up to 14 and 15-year-olds.
In 2017, the New York Red Bulls front office teamed up with After-School All-Stars from Camden Street School to develop a mentorship program, and last year, our club, alongside Wells Fargo US Soccer Foundation and Newark Public school partnered up to open a mini pitch at Camden Street School.
“Our partnership with the Red Bulls came with our association with After-School All-Stars, and literally you can see it’s a family affair,” said Principal Garrison in a recent interview. “The strongest point, I’d say, is that everyone with the Red Bulls understands the power of relationships, and the power of relationships to move the child, and the power of relationships to manufacture motivation.”
In 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recognized Garrison’s Thanksgiving Dinner program for its outstanding contributions to the City of Newark.
Since the pandemic started, Principal Garrison has led initiatives to help out students’ families. Among the successes are: Distributing $19,000 in gift cards to families and stakeholders, providing 6,000 diapers to families, delivering groceries to nearly 100 families, especially in the early weeks where many infected families were quarantined. Items they delivered included food, formula and non-perishable food items, and lastly teachers have done numerous drive-bys to encourage their students.
Principal Garrison sees soccer as a great instrument to build community.
“So as we build the community, we’ll also build the love of the game,” he said. “So putting in a soccer pitch is awesome. The love of the game transcends borders. It transcends countries. This is a global sport that connects people. So, we might have many differences, but we can all be united through soccer.”
For 2020, his goals are to work around the idea of how much he wants his school to prove how much they care for their students.
“Our catchphrase is simple, Camden Cares,” said Garrison. “So the big thing for Camden Street School in 2020, people are going to know how much we care, by feeling that care. And we’ve had great examples, Red Bulls being one, they just don’t say they care. You can feel the fact that they care.
“We want to be a school where the community will feel that caring, when you walk into the building, you'll feel that warmth. When a kid goes home, and he needs help with schoolwork, or needs extra assistance to achieve, he will be able to say, ‘At that building, we know we can get help and support.’ All these projects, it boils down to one thing: We care about you and you matter. And in 2020, we want to do even more of that work.”