Baker Elementary School - Pandemic Partnership Response

For the last 20 years, Jackson lawyer Mike Dawkins has mentored scholars at Baker Elementary School in Jackson. During the past school year, he, along with a team from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, &Berkowitz Law Firm have visited the school 2 days a week, every week to help 2nd Graders enhance their reading skills with a program called Arise to Read. This program has helped the scholars to work harder and feel good about themselves. The Law firm has been serving as a school adopter for Baker Elementary since August 10, 2000. Although, they will not be able to visit the school in person to assist the scholars at the beginning of this school year, they are still “Emojin the Possibilities” to put a bright smile on each scholar’s face to help them reach their fullest potential on the 1st Day. This play on words catchphrase has been adopted by the school’s principal Mrs. Camesha Hatchett. She is proud to have the assistance of the adopters as scholars prepare to learn virtually from a distance. Although the Jackson Public School District is going 1:1 for scholars for learning devices the school noticed a potential problem with virtually learning.

As Principal Hatchett and teachers discussed the best possible solutions to have the most conducive learning environment while scholars are at home, they realized that the scholars would greatly benefit from a set of earbuds to hear their teacher and classmates better especially if others are in the room with them at home. As the adopters inquired of the needs of the school, the school suggested the purchase of ear buds for the scholars. The adopters gladly went above and beyond when called upon. They purchased approximately 300 sets of ear buds with an inline microphone for every single Baker scholar for this school year. That is a great way to “Emojin the Possibilities”. Now, whenever a child comes to check out a device, he or she will receive a “FREE” pair of earbuds in a color of their choice. The principal, school staff, scholars, and parents are very grateful for this gift from the adopters.

Baker Elementary has been fortunate to become an “A-Rated” school with the help of school adopter Baker Donelson Law Firm over the past 20 years. Throughout the years they have sponsored the Fall Literacy Celebration, school-wide performances from New Stage Theatre, The School Book Fair, MathBusters, Are You Smarter Than A Mathbuster, Field Trips, Field Day, Winter Classroom Celebrations, Honor Roll Trophies, and a list of other activities and events. Other adopters that Baker Elementary School are proud to have are New Horizon Church, International, and Greater Harvest Baptist Church, both of Jackson. This effort didn’t just stop with the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. They began in April 2020 printing and delivering weekly work packets for all Baker Scholars of 42 pages per scholar per week. This had an impact on a total of 495 Baker scholars by January 2021. They also volunteered to assist other district schools with this same task.

These earbuds have been a great asset as scholars, whose parents selected to be traditional scholars, began to matriculate in the building for face-to-face instruction beginning January 19, 2021. This allows the scholars that are in person to focus better by making the classroom more conducive for learning. With these efforts, the scholars are able to hear their teachers and classmates better as well as be heard better when engaging in class. As we evolve education to virtual platforms, even in person, we notice that without the inline mic earbuds, there are high pitched/high frequency noises produced when several laptops, Chromebooks, or iPads are unmuted of have the volume up creating a breakdown in the focus of instruction.

In addition, as we prepared for all scholars return in the January 2021. The concern of classroom teachers were how to create safe manipulatives for scholars use in the building as well as for the continuing virtual scholars at home without the risk of unsafe cross contamination by sharing. Economically, the school’s budget does not afford for purchase of manipulatives and school supplies for all scholars. Due to these constraints, Baker Donelson, et. al. stepped up to the challenge. They created an Amazon wish list for classroom teachers starting in November 2020. The law firm as well as individual employees of the law firm together purchased 100% of the items in the wish lists for scholars. They were delivered by the Winter Break for distribution to all scholars for the beginning of January 2021. Scholars received their own personal bag filled with the school supplies and manipulative items needed for all subjects. The traditional scholars are able to place the bag on their desk for easy daily access. The virtual scholars can have the bag in their personal workspace at home or at the daycare facilities where they are instructed daily. This helps to create a safer work environment for scholars without sacrificing real true instruction that leads to student achievement.

These efforts have not only assisted in a positive boost in student average daily attendance (ADA) but also in additional student enrollment. When parents in the neighborhood hear the positive and safe measures the school is putting into place to boost student achievement as well as support the parents with the assistance of the school adopters, they become more apt to expeditiously enroll their child into Baker Elementary School. As we begin to prepare for State Testing this Spring, these efforts will factor greatly in the school’s ability to assist scholars to do and be their best in a pandemic world. These factors also contribute to assisting with create a more normal school environment as possible. Studies show that scholars in more structured learning environments have higher achievement levels. In the past few weeks, the adopters along with the principal and campus contact, have been in conversation of how to continue the Arise-to-Read program possibly virtually to maintain the impact of the adopters’ focus on improving the reading skills of the 25% of 2nd Graders with promising growth.

Beginning January 28, 2021, the adopters will resume full implementation of the Arise-To-Read Program. The 2nd graders from Spring 2020 Arise 2 Read all received bags filled with summer reading books and supplies for the summer. BakerDonelson et. al. partnered with Baker Elementary School equals success for all scholars.

Community Partners:
Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, and Berkowitz Law Firm