Rowan Elementary School (2023)

The partnership between L.J. Rowan and USM faculty member Dr. Jo Hawkins-Jones started in 2018 as an initiative to build reciprocal community-university partnerships with P-16 school partners. The program, i.R.O.C.K. Academy (I am Resilient, Optimistic, Charismatic, and Kind) addressed the school's communicated needs and afforded preservice teachers culturally rich experiential learning experiences to promote cultural competence.

The development and implementation of i.R.O.C.K. Academy have created positive student attitudes toward reading and learning, improved students' confidence in themselves, and increased students' attendance and positive behavior. The one-on-one tutoring, personal care, and mentoring increase their desire to attend school. Seeing the excitement on their faces is wonderful as they look forward to spending meaningful time with their i.R.O.C.K. mentors. Considering the positive outcome, Dr. Jo Hawkins-Jones applied for the Nita M. Lowery 21s Century Community Learning Center grant to extend the reach of i.R.O.C.K. Academy to serve more students, address other literacy needs (e.g., decreasing the percentage of students scoring in PL1 and PL2), and address anticipated gaps due to the COVID slide) and increase parental involvement. The grant was funded in December 2021, and the i.R.O.C.K. Academy program has been expanded as proposed. Approximately 100 USM students have completed service-learning at L.J. Rowan Elementary through the i.R.O.C.K. Academy. Additionally, more than 200 L.J. Rowan's students and families have been impacted by the program through the summer program, after-school program, literacy-based mentor group, and parent academy activities.