Thames Elementary (2023)

Thames Elementary School partners with the Hattiesburg Landmark Preservation, Inc. and the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art to improve the school culture. Specifically, a culture that fosters both academic excellence and ethics. The partnerships began in 2017 after conversations between school staff and community stakeholders. When the school leadership team met with the partners, they were asked to identify all school needs. By means of yearly needs assessment, the group determined a need for the continuation of culture reformation and accountability (leadership, teacher, and student).

In an effort to address school culture reformation, the team decided to focus on significant enhancements to the school grounds. The partners chose to begin with improvements to the school basketball court. Students assisted volunteers with cleaning and pressure washing the court and repairing goals. Community stakeholders joined school staff and students to plan three volunteer service days for general school grounds clean-up. The clean-up included litter clean-up, park and playground maintenance, gardening and trimming, and the preparation for the installation of two large-scale murals on the walls of the outside of the school. These murals are included in the Hattiesburg Public Art Trail. Currently, 50-60 community volunteers participate in the on-going cleaning of the school grounds.

The benefits of these school-based partnerships for students include improving social and academic outcomes as well as exposing students to more diverse learning opportunities and community resources. These partnerships created a more positive atmosphere at the school and assisted in building relationships between the school and the community. The outcomes through these partnerships define the meaning of "every community behind every child".