N.R. Burger Middle School (Hattiesburg Public School District) - I Am, I Care Initiative Partners: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, The University of Southern Mississippi, and Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education -- IMAGE

Duration of partnership - 1 year
25 volunteers
638 students impacted
For years, N. R. Burger Middle School had been offering tangible rewards and incentives to recognize student accomplishments. But Principal Dr. Robert Williams knew from experience that the best reward or incentive is sometimes a simple, kind word.  From this idea, the “I Am, I Care” campaign was created.
Research shows that student motivation is a key component of student success. The “I Am, I Care” campaign provided opportunities for staff members, central office personnel, former teachers, former principals, parents, and community members and organizations to introduce themselves to students and show their support of educational excellence. Each individual who agreed to participate was asked to simply communicate who they are and why they care about students.
Statements were read on the intercom each morning at the beginning of school, either by the author, who may provide a message in person or in a recording, or a school representative. Individuals who were able to read statements in person were encouraged to visit at least one classroom to provide additional words of encouragement to students.
A total of 25 community volunteers participated in the "I Am, I Care" campaign. Student surveys indicated that they benefited and learned from presenters, while parents and community partners developed a greater awareness of their impact on the learning environment. From February to March 2013, deferrals decreased from 76 to 50, while average daily attendance increased by year's end to 95 percent.
The "I Am, I Care" campaign helped students of Burger Middle School develop a stronger sense of pride and self-worth, and learn from the experiences of others. The program is an effective approach to reducing negative behaviors, increasing school attendance, and enhancing academic performance.