The future of Indian Head is right in front of us, in the most literal sense.

Across from the front doors of Oasis Fresh Foods Market is Indian Head Elementary School, where the next generation of residents and leaders of our town are learning and growing every day.

We see the buses pulling in each morning. We see the children playing outside during PE class and recess. We know the difference that a convenient local grocery store will make in their lives.

Indian Head Elementary is also fortunate to be the second school in Charles County selected to be part of Maryland’s Community Schools program. Throughout the state are more than 360 community schools, which take advantage of partnerships to connect the school, students, families and the surrounding community with the resources they need to thrive.

Indian Head joined the program this year, and Marissa Ackerman has taken on the role of Community School Coordinator for Indian Head. The program has gotten off to a fast start.

Indian Head Elementary recently held its first Community Resource Day, sponsored by the Nu Zeta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, with over 20 vendors providing resources and support for families, including produce from Charles County Commissioner Gilbert “B.J.” Bowling, SNAP Ed, WIC, UM Charles Regional Medical Center and the Charles County Health Department, as well as local churches and businesses to name a few.

The Judy Center, named in memory of House Minority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer’s wife, also sponsored the event. Hoyer will be on hand on November 17 as Indian Head Elementary holds a ribbon-cutting for its new Judy Center.

As we prepare to open our doors in 2023, Oasis is already looking forward to partnerships with the school.

“Our Community School is here to provide wraparound services for the family as a whole, including mental and dental health services, community resources, family engagement activities, and enrichment opportunities,” Marissa Ackerman said. “Most of all, we are here to help transform the community as a whole for student achievement. Indian Head Elementary has a strong teaching and administrative staff who genuinely cares for each student, and it is a privilege to support them in building a thriving community of learners. We are grateful for the intentionality of Oasis towards this mission, and we can’t wait to see what this partnership holds for our families.”

Healthier Students, Healthier Families

 At Oasis, our goal is to be much more than a community grocery store. We want to engage with area residents and look for every opportunity to make their lives better — and to make Indian Head better.

The Community Schools program offers an immediate and impactful opportunity. So we’ve already been in touch with Marissa, and together we’ve brainstormed just a few of the ways we can work together to serve students and their families.

“Marissa is so enthusiastic about the Community Schools program,” Oasis co-owner Marilyn Steel said. “It has been exciting to talk to her about the different ways we can partner with them to really create a connection between Oasis and the students and families throughout Indian Head.”

Some of the ideas we’ve come up with include:

Community Garden: One of the exciting features of Oasis will be the community garden behind the store. We’ve discussed partnering with the school to offer students and their families the opportunity to tend their own plot within the garden, growing healthy food for their meals.

Cooking Classes: Giving parents the skills they need to quickly and easily prepare nourishing foods for their families can put children on the path toward a lifetime of good health. Hosting cooking classes for local families would be an excellent way to connect with the community and make a healthy difference.

Grocery Budgeting Tips: Grocery shopping can be especially difficult on a limited budget. However, with a smart strategy, you can stretch your food budget farther than you may have imagined. We’ve discussed opportunities to work with the Community Schools program to share insights and tips to benefit any family.

“Needless to say, this is only the beginning of the conversation,” Marilyn said. “There really are endless possibilities, and it fits right in with our mission to be an active and positive member of our community. We can’t wait to get started.”