Spann Elementary School (2023)

In many Muppet productions, Kermit and his gang sing, “If just one person believes in you – deep enough and strong enough…maybe even you can believe in you, too.” Spann Elementary’s valuable adopters and partners, MS Children’s Museum, Raising Cane’s, Northminster Church and the Rotary Club, have set their course to provide children the tools to do just this: believe in themselves and have the ability to succeed. When these partnerships began several years ago, groups and individuals would come to the school to help teach students how to make lemonade, or they’d offer students the opportunities to attend summer camps free of charge. They were always implementing plans and activities by which students could build background knowledge and enrich their literacy experiences – hands on, minds on. These acts of kindness began to literally multiply into vast examples of volunteerism and educational opportunities provided for Spann’s student body. Today, we have hundreds of students who’ve been impacted by their participation through museum learning activities (on site at the museum, through 3rd grade focused reading bootcamps, and here at the school) and literacy experiences that have taught students how to analyze, evaluate, and investigate the world in which they live. These times of partnership will last a lifetime as they’re sown into the hearts and lives of children in need.

The MS Children’s Museum, Northminster Church, and Raising Cane’s staff/board members recruit volunteers from their organizations to work with students and families during school time, in the evenings, and in the summers. The museum has funded the program Rocky the Reader for grades K-5, scholarships for 2nd & 3rd graders to attend Imagination Celebration summer camps, hands on science and STEM activities for K – 3rd graders – teaching how to make rock candy and ghost bubbles. They also have opened their doors for parents and students to participate in Planting the Seeds to Read, an evening literacy program whereby families join together to learn engaging strategies to boost literacy experiences in the home. Rotary Club members faithfully send members to the school to read with students, explore life through children’s books, and teach them how to carry out fun/sequential learning tasks designed to foster a love of learning and to increase comprehension. Raising Cane’s management provides incentives (free kids meals) for students showing growth in their reading skills – for students who are receiving high levels of intervention to those who need to be nudged to greater levels of achievement. Northminster provides incentives for students working diligently to improve their reading ability. Spann’s student body has been forever changed by the small battalion of volunteers who partner with us to support the goals we have for children. These rich learning experiences serve as extensions of what partners and adopters have been committed to for years and years. As one group of 3rd graders noted, they enjoy these times with the adopters because “it helps our brains expand and learn things we might never have a chance to learn”.