The 100% Adopt A Class partnership between Brown Elementary and Millsaps College has been years in the making. The two educational institutions are less than a mile away from each other but in many respects they are worlds apart. Both, however, have education and excellence in their mission. In 2007 the seeds of a relationships were planted. Working with a full partnership model in which mutual respect, responsibility and transformation were key priorities, the relationship has grown each year.
The 100% Adopt A Class project signals both the success of the partnership between the school and the college and its potential for continued growth. The project pairs different student organizations at the college with different teachers and classrooms at the school. Where in past years a handful of classes had been adopted by Millsaps groups, the 100% program aimed to have every single classroom at the elementary school adopted. That goal was communicated to the leaders of Millsaps student organizations via a summertime e-mail, and by the time classes began at the college in August, every classroom at Brown, plus the music, library and after-school programs, had been adopted.
Teachers’ ideas and preferences were solicited, volunteers were trained and the program was off and running. The project includes the intention of making the partnerships between Millsaps organizations and Brown classrooms long-term ones so that when college students join an organization on campus, they inherit a partnership with a class at Brown Elementary. This way the school can count on certain kinds of support, and best practices can be passed down to each new class of volunteers. There are improvements to be made, but this project has been a great success thus far and might be a model worth sharing with other institutions of higher learning in Mississippi.
Activities: Volunteers tutored, mentored and provided enrichment and morale-building activities, e.g., art projects, holiday parties, uniform drives, field trips. Volunteers hosted Fall Carnival, judged science fair projects and set up new science lab, developed science learning modules for 1st and 5th grades, donated books and gave $100 gifts to each classroom per semester to support academic and enrichment events. Web-based resources, consultations offered by Millsaps to partnership volunteers.
Results: 300+ onsite volunteer hours per semester documented. Total of 600 volunteer hours and $15,000 in volunteer, academic and enrichment resources. Variety of one-on-one and group learning activities benefited every individual student. Partnership has helped raise morale of teachers, staff, students and families and provided valuable educational, leadership and character-development experiences for Millsaps volunteers.