A True Partnership
Six years ago, the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, SC, re-established its partnership with a nearby Title 1 K-5 school, Mary H. Wright Elementary School. Since that time, the collaboration has flourished. Its strength is rooted in relationship, the bonds built—and faithfully nurtured—between Advent parishioners and the staff, students, and families at the school.
A critical component of this ministry’s efficacy and longevity has been the dedication of two lead volunteers who spend an average of 10-25 hours per week within the school. The potential difficulty for other parishes—whether due to congregational size or availability—to recruit volunteers at that level of commitment should not be a deterrent. In our experience, the key to long-term success is consistent, strategic communication between both institutional partners, as well as the corps of engaged parishioners.
Another important element of the partnership is the parish’s connection to and support from the school’s principal and top administrators, including the school resource officer, guidance counselors, and on-site nurse. However, the affiliations must extend beyond the front office; Advent volunteers get to know the teachers, aides, janitorial staff, and cafeteria workers, all of whom are integral to the school’s vibrancy. Above all, careful coordination and cooperation with the school principal is prioritized, in recognition of that professional’s experience, command of academic protocols, and deep understanding of the community.
In addition to traditional initiatives such as school supply drives, hosting seasonal celebrations, and providing holiday gifts to families, the Advent-Mary H. Wright partnership has initiated a number of creative opportunities for students. Those include: Read Wright – reading support program that matches volunteers with students requiring additional tutoring in reading proficiency. Annual Play/Musical Presentation - complete with colorful set design, costumes, and make-up. Leadership Club - including annual trips to Atlanta to visit colleges and other tourist attractions as well as other special trips and activities. Annual Seated Graduation Luncheon - for 5th graders with a speaker – the seated meal is prepared and served at the Advent.
Food support to Families with greatest needs, and a Clothing closet including underwear, socks, and coats. Prayer Partners between Teachers and Staff for those who request.
Additional on-going Annual evens that the Advent has collaborated, instituted, implemented, and, in many cases, funded include:
- Back to School Kick-off
- Teacher Appreciation Events
- Fall Festival
- Veteran’s Day
- Trip to Walnut Grove
- Grand-parents Day
- Theme Days for each Grade level: Gingerbread day, Dr Seuss day, Earth day, Colonial day
- Polar Express Day
- Cocoa with Cops
- The Letters Q and U Wedding
- Valentine’s Dance
- Field Day
If anyone would like more information on how to develop a partnership with a school, please contact Laura Bauknight, Ministries Support Coordinator at [email protected].
Tags: Stories from EDUSC