Links to Sections
Page Updated: 8.10.19
Section 1 – Introduction
For the past 8 years, Park Road has been actively involved in supporting our local schools. We have packed weekend snacks for elementary students, collected and delivered books for children to read over the summer, tutored individual students to help them succeed academically, sponsored field trips, collected Christmas gifts, and celebrated the teachers and staff at local schools.
Because the breadth of our school outreach has expanded and changed to adapt to changes in the school system, we have re-branded our outreach this year. We are now calling this vital mission program, "Supporting Our Schools", or SOS.
Our student outreach has always been enthusiastically received by the children. Indeed, we have gotten hundreds of the “Thank You” notes to Park Road over the past several years from children receiving books – just one of the several ministries Park Road Baptist Church is doing in local elementary schools.
For privacy reasons, we cannot show the pictures of the smiling face as a child gets a bag of snacks on Friday. Or the excitement in a classroom when a box containing a bag of books for each child is brought into the room. Or the smile on the face of a child as she jumps up to meet the tutor who is picking her up from class for her (bi)weekly one-on-one session.
These are images burned into the minds of those of us who get to interact with the children who have benefited from Park Road’s ministry to elementary school children. But those images are just as real as the ones you do see on this page – and carry some of the import of what we have been doing in this ministry with local elementary schools.
Our ministry has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the schools. The Supporting Our Schools team wants all of us to remember the good we have done, and to plan the good we still have to do. We want you to understand the great work being done -by YOU- to impact the lives of children in a local elementary school.
But far more than understanding, we hope that you will be motivated to take personal action, to love children who are not your own, who don’t look like you, to do “…for the least of these.”
And there is something each one of us can do – from praying, to giving, to packing/delivering snack bags, to helping with book distributions, to tutoring.
Thank you for your support in the past and we look forward to working with the church community again this year as we commit ourselves and our church to ... Supporting Our Schools!
Section 2 - History of Uplift Sedgefield
and the transition to Marie G Davis
In the fall of 2015, Park Road Baptist Church decided to embark on the “Next Big Thing” – making a real difference in the lives of children at Sedgefield Elementary. Sedgefield Elementary is less than 2 miles from the church. At that time, it was a high poverty, low-performing school. We increased our long-standing Snack Pack program and started other efforts to improve the lives of the children at Sedgefield Elementary. Starting in 2016, about half of the missions’ allocation of the Annual Ministry Plan (AMP) has been dedicated to ministries to support schools. This dollar amount has remained relatively constant at about $20,00/year (even as the percentage of mission spending increased in 2019).
By partnering with other organizations and the staff and faculty at Sedgefield, we have made make a real difference.
In the fall of 2018, Sedgefield and Dilworth Elementary schools merged with K-2nd grades housed at the Sedgefield building and 3rd-5th grades housed at the Dilworth building. The school is now called Dilworth and has two campuses - Dilworth-Sedgefield and Dilworth-Latta. According to all the press (and from personal experience of several folks), this merger was a success - for the students at these two campuses.
However, one fact was little publicized - a geographical section was eliminated from the combined Dilworth-Sedgefield district. The South Side Homes area, a low-income housing project, was zoned to Marie G Davis K-8 school. This moved over 100 of the most disadvantaged students from Sedgefield Elementary to Marie G Davis K-8. At the same time, Marie G Davis went from a full magnet school (military and leadership) to a partial magnet, neighborhood school (IB candidate last year). Also, as a staff member at Marie G Davis put it, “We’ve always been a Title I school. But now rather than dealing with families in situational poverty, we are dealing with many more families in generational poverty. And that’s very different.”
As we learned more about the changed demographics and resulting needs at the various schools, we decided that Dilworth-Latta and Dilworth-Sedgefield no longer needed our partnering as much, if at all. The Dilworth PTA was able to raise over $100,000 this last year. Marie G Davis K-8, like Sedgefield Elementary in the past, does not have a functioning PTA. While there are still children at Dilworth-Latta and Dilworth-Sedgefield who need assistance, the PTA is able to cover most of those needs (more about that later). But EVERY child at Marie G Davis can use some kind of help. While Marie G Davis is not as close to Park Road Baptist as Sedgefield Elementary was, it is less than 10 minutes away, located at 3351 Griffith St, just off of South Tryon St. Also, Marie G Davis had no community partners at the start the 2018-2019 school year.
For these reasons, the Support Our Schools team started moving some of our efforts to Marie G Davis in the 2018-2910 school year, while keeping commitments we had made to the Dilworth-Latta and Dilworth-Sedgefield. With one exception (see Snack Packs below, all of Park Road’s Supporting Our Schools efforts in 2019-2020 will be at Marie G Davis K-8 school.
Section 3 - Partners
As is the nature of Park Road Baptist Church, we have always worked with other organizations to support elementary school students. As we continue this ministry at Marie G Davis, we will continue to partner with other groups.
The most critical partnership is with the staff and faculty at Marie G Davis. Members of the Support Our Schools team have met multiple times with the counselors, dean of students and literacy coordinator at Marie G Davis. We have worked closely with the staff and faculty on the 2018-2019 efforts. We have already met and started planning for the 2019-2020 school year. This is to ensure what we do is what the school wants and needs.
We have worked with Myers Park United Methodist Church in the past as they were also a school partner at Sedgefield Elementary School. Their elementary school ministry is also shifting primarily to Marie G Davis. They sponsored Freedom School this summer at Marie G Davis (as opposed to Sedgefield). Their “For the Love of Reading” program will move to Marie G Davis this fall also. While both their budget and volunteer base are much larger than ours, we work well together, supporting each other’s specific efforts. We look forward to this working relationship in the future.
Promising Pages is a Charlotte nonprofit organization whose mission is to “upcycle” books to children in the Charlotte area who don’t have access to books. This past year, we received about 2,000 books from Promising Pages for our end of the year book send home. We plan on expanding our partnership with Promising Pages this next year.
Read Charlotte is a Charlotte nonprofit organization which mobilizes community resources with the goal of doubling the percentage of third graders in Charlotte reading on grade level from 39% to 80%. This coming year, we will be partnering with Myers Park UMC and Promising Pages as part of Read Charlotte’s Transformation Network. This will expand our reach of literacy efforts and book send homes.
Augustine Literacy Project-Charlotte is a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains and supports tutors to help improve the reading, spelling and writing skills of low-income children who struggle with literacy. Park Road Baptist members helped facilitate Marie G Davis in becoming a partner school in 2019. Park Road has several ALP tutors working at Sedgefield and Marie G Davis, as well as other schools. We also support ALP with a monetary donation.
Heart Math Tutoring is a Charlotte nonprofit organization that recruits, trains, and supports volunteers as tutors in high-poverty elementary schools in Charlotte, NC. Heart Math Tutoring’s mission is to ensure that all elementary students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success, by helping schools use volunteers as tutors. Park Road Baptist has supplied several tutors at Sedgefield over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, Heart Math is not able to extend its program to any new school in the 2019-2020 school year, so Heart Math will not be at Marie G Davis this year. Park Road will continue to advocate for Marie G Davis with Heart Math and help keep communications open between Marie G Davis and Heart Math. We also support Heart Math with a monetary donation.
Section 4 - Snack Packs
Snack packs have been the longest continuous ministry by Park Road to elementary schools, predating the “Uplift Sedgefield” emphasis by years. Started and facilitated in the early years by Linda Hefner, this program has packed and delivered bags of shelf-stable food to the school(s). These snack packs are handed out to those children determined by the school to be the most at risk of hunger over the weekend. The old Sedgefield Elementary qualified for 100% free lunch, as well as 100% free breakfast. This is also currently true for Marie G Davis K-8. This means that all children have at least 2 good meals a day, no matter the family’s status or situation. However, there could be (and are for many children), a gap in food over the weekend. The bag of food attempts to provide some amount of food provision for those children deemed most in need.
Started in the spring of 2011, the original packing delivered 40 bags per week to Sedgefield Elementary. The packing was monthly and implemented by a small group of Park Road members, with shopping for the contents also being done by a small group of folks. The number of bags packed and delivered increased through the years:
2012-2013 - 75
2014-2017 - 100
2017-2018 - 105
2018-2019 - 175
In the fall of 2016, the monthly Thursday evening packing sessions evolved to several large Sunday packing sessions, doing a semester’s worth of snack packs at a time. This expanded the base of folks who helped pack the bags. The food is now purchased through the Park Road’s CDC in order to get bulk quantities and prices.
In the 2018-2019 school year we packed and delivered 60 bags to Dilworth-Latta, 80 to Dilworth-Sedgefield, and 35 to Marie G. Davis each week, for a total of 175 bags per week. This stretched our capacity at every point, leading to more than 2 large packing events, including several Wednesday night events with youth and children of Park Road packing bags.
In the 2019-2020 school year, we plan to pack and deliver 120 bags per week to Marie G Davis. We will also pack and deliver about 100 bags for the Dilworth campuses on a monthly basis, for which the Dilworth PTA will cover the cost.
Each bag costs approximately $4. This amount is primarily budgeted money from the Park Road Missions’ budget. There has been some grant money, as well as some “designated” money from individuals and other churches.
It might seem like a trivial thing to get a bag filled with a single serving of ultra-pasteurized milk, a juice bag, a couple of instant oatmeal packs, a cup of microwave mac & cheese, a tin of Vienna sausages, a snack pack of fruit and pudding. But these small, simple items can make the difference between a child going hungry over the weekend or not. This matters! Some of our volunteers at the schools have seen first-hand the anticipation and excitement of the students as they receive the snack packs!
The packings for the 2019-2020 school year will be publicized as each is scheduled. Please make plans to stay after church to help with this important project. (And come to help set-up the Saturday evening before). Dan McClintock has been delivering the bags personally on a weekly basis – he could always use some help. You can also contact Peggy McIntyre or Tracy Bradley, who are currently coordinating this effort, for other ways you can help. (If you don’t know Peggy or Tracy or how to contact them, email George Miles and he will forward your note.) And you can help fund this effort with a directed contribution to “Missions – Snack Packs.”
Section 5 - Direct student involvement opportunities
Park Road supports and recommends the following established programs for involvement directly with a student. While there are opportunities to directly volunteer in a classroom, this involves rather close coordination with the teachers, many of who do not have the bandwidth to prepare work for a volunteer. An advantage of the programs listed below is that each has a coordinator that interfaces with the school to provide rooms, resources, and student permissions, as well as teacher understanding and enthusiasm.
As of mid-July 2019, we unfortunately do not know what time of day these programs will be offered at Marie G Davis during the 2019-2020 school year. All these tutoring programs will start up some time in the late September-early October 2019 timeframe.
All the programs listed below are targeted at low-performing, high poverty children. Thus, there are several points to keep in mind. The students with whom you would work come from a very different background than you. Regular school attendance might not be a priority in their home. Student behavior might be challenging (although each of these programs screens for behavior problems and will rule children ineligible if behavior becomes problematic). But most people who have worked with students at Sedgefield and/or Marie G Davis have found that one-on-one interactions means a lot to the children and they will almost always work, behave, and seem genuinely glad, even excited, to see you. And the sense that you are not only really helping a child advance academically, but are also giving that child a positive, consistent adult influence, one who is not paid to be there, will be an incredibly rewarding experience
In all cases of direct student involvement, you will need to register with CMS as a volunteer so a background check can be completed. (There is no cost to you for this.) After you have completed the registration form once, you will be sent a message to “re-register” each year. As part of the registration process, you will select the school(s) where you will volunteer. You will have to sign-in at the school in the office each time you visit the school, presenting your driver’s license each time. The registration form can be found here.
The programs below are listed in order of least preparation and commitment of time and effort to most. Persons who have participated in each program are listed if you want some additional, first-hand information. If you do not know the person listed or do not know how to contact a person, email George Miles and he will forward your note.
1. For the Love of Reading (FTLOR) is sponsored by Myers Park UMC. This is a reading buddy program where each adult is paired with a 2nd grade child. You go to the school once a week and read with the same child each week. (Someone else will be reading with the child another day each week). You will be given a bag of books appropriate for your particular child. They read to you for about 30 minutes. Then you read to them from a slightly higher-level book for about 10-15 minutes. There may be some simple writing assignments on the reading. There is no advanced preparation, and you don’t need to bring anything with you. FTLOR does ask you to give a book to your child 3-4 times a year but makes books available for you to give. There is no “teaching” involved with this program – it is an attempt to facilitate a child learning to enjoy reading by becoming more proficient. The children are nominated by the school, and the FTLOR coordinators from MPUMC screen each candidate. In addition to the CMS screening, MPUMC has a simple volunteer form to fill out. Sally Silden and George Miles have participated in this program in the past. Please contact Amie Rucker at email@example.com to volunteer to be a For the Love of Reading reading buddy.
2. Heart Math provides a lesson plan and materials for a 30-minute lesson per child each week. They prefer you to plan on working with 2 children each week (for a total of an hour), but you can do a single child a week if that is all your schedule will allow. There is an initial orientation that takes about an hour. The lessons are well laid out and require no advanced knowledge in math. The most advanced lessons deal with multiplication and division. Heart Math works with students in grades 1-5 who are behind their classmates in mathematics. The lessons are engaging and take advantage of multiple senses. You will work with small blocks, playing cards, and even paper and pencil sometimes! You advance at the speed your child needs. There is a Heart Program coordinator on site during all tutoring sessions for assistance. Heart Math has collected data to demonstrate that the program works – on several levels. Students are nominated by the school and screened by Heart Math staff and assigned the proper module by means of a 30-45 pre-assessment administered one-on-one by trained assessors. Brian Smyth and George Miles have been Heart Math tutors. Click here to sign-up to be a Heart Math Tutor. Unfortunately, because of resource constraints at Heart Math, this program will not be at Marie G Davis for the 2019-2020 school year. But there are other Title I schools where you can tutor with Heart Math.
3. HELPS (Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies) is an evidence-based program proven to improve children’s reading fluency. Developed at NC State several years ago, the program was piloted within CMS at several schools this past year, jointly sponsored by CMS, The Helps Education Fund, Read Charlotte, and Augustine Literacy Project Charlotte. The program is a structured combination of several practices that statistically improve a child’s ability to read fluently, i.e. reading with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. The combination of these practices has been shown via research to be even more effective than when used separately. There is a 3.5-hour training session (as well as a self-study manual, if desired). There is coaching available from experienced personnel available on-site on a periodic basis. A HELPS session with a single child takes from 12-15 minutes. You are asked to work with 3-4 students a day once a week, for a total of 45-60 minutes each week. (You can do more!) All materials are provided, including small rewards for the student at various times in the program. The students are nominated by the school and then assigned to a specific reading selection based on an assessment by a HELPS coordinator. The children will be in 2nd or 3rd grade and can read but needs some additional help to read fluently. Results from the initial (2018-2019) year of HELPS usage in CMS can be found here. Dan McClintock, George Miles, and Netta Mosely were HELPS tutors at Marie G Davis this past year. Click here to view a HELPS information session (an hour long). Here is the link to see/sign-up for other information sessions and upcoming training options. You can also sign up for HELPS sessions at the same link when the 2019-2020 HELPS schedule at Marie G Davis is finalized.
4. Augustine Literacy Project tutors learn a research-based structured methodology to teach a child to read. The techniques were originally developed to help those with dyslexia, but the process has been proven to work with anyone struggling to learn how to read. ALP tutors are usually paired with a 1st grader who is already at least a year behind his/her classmates. Depending on the progress and desires, the tutor and child may stay paired for more than one school year. The commitment is big – a 40-hour training session and a commitment to tutor for 2 45-55 minutes sessions for a week for at least 60 sessions. The training includes practice sessions with coaching from experienced ALP tutors. But the pay back is incredible – both for the tutor and the child being tutored. There is a fee ($250) for the training and you will receive significant resources to use. You assess your child yourself and then develop specific lesson plans, based on a fixed, structured template, to move your child through the process of associating printed letter/words with their associated sounds. Developing the plan takes almost as long as presenting it. But, again, while the cost is high, the rewards are higher. An ALP site coordinator is available for assistance and ongoing coaching, although not always on-site. There are monthly lunch and learn sessions to learn new techniques and strategies. There are periodic information sessions for prospective tutors – click here to see any current ones. The same link also shows the upcoming training sessions (3 in the fall of 2019 fall, including one using a pilot schedule over 5 days, rather than the usual 7). There is also a link to an application form to download, fill in, and return. While the initial and ongoing commitment to be an Augustine Literacy tutor is the highest of any of these opportunities, you will be actually teaching a child to read - for real! Linda Hefner, Peggy McIntyre, George Miles, and Geoff Palmer have all served as ALP tutors.
Section 6 - Book Send-home
In the spring of 2016, shortly after Park Road launched “Uplift Sedgefield”, we were approached by the family advocate at Sedgefield to help with an end-of-the-year book drive. Queens University, a partner of Sedgefield at the time, had collected several hundred books. But they needed to be classified according to reading level. And there was no plan for distribution. It was decided that not only would we work to classify the books that Sedgefield already had, but we would collect used books – and spend some of the newly budgeted missions’ money to buy new books that were suggested by teachers at Sedgefield. We solicited book suggestions/recommendations from teachers, collected and classified books, and then distributed them. We prepared a bag of books with each child’s name on it that contained books that were near the child’s reading level. And many of the books were ones that teachers had recommended/suggested – some on an individual basis. This past spring was the 4th year that Park Road has sponsored such a book send-home. We have included Park Road’s CDC PreK class the last 3 years in our book distribution.
We have continued to get teacher suggestions – and have gotten more and more specific book requests directly from the children via their teachers. We have moved from using plastic grocery bags to using inexpensive drawstring backpacks that the children can reuse (at the insistence and because of the funding efforts of Rosemarie Burton). Numerous folks have scoured thrift shops, garage sales and neighborhood swaps to locate good condition, used children’s books. People have cleaned out their home libraries and donated hundreds of books for this effort. Donated adult books have been traded in for book credit at one of the several used bookstores in town to give store credit to buy books that the children want. Folks have given over and beyond the AMP to buy books, including people from other churches. Park Road folks have donated time to “level” the books and then to pack them in the bags.
Here is a chart showing some pertinent numbers and the growth of this effort:
For the 2019-2020 school year, we will be partnering with Myers Park UMC, Read Charlotte, Promising Pages, and Marie G Davis to be a part of the Read Charlotte Transformation Network. This will change our book distribution plans rather dramatically. First, rather than concentrating all our efforts on one big book send home at the end of the year, we will help coordinate three book distribution events at Marie G Davis that Read Charlotte calls Book-A-Palooza. Scheduled in late October, mid-December (before winter break), and Early April (before spring break), there will be a selection of books from which each child can select 3 . At the end of the year, there will be a “Books on Break” event where each child will be able to pick at least 5 books from a wide selection. As a part of the Read Charlotte Transformation Network, Promising Pages will be providing books for all 4 events, as well as running the events themselves! Park Road will help with the coordination and set-up. And we will supplement the books Promising Pages is providing with high-demand and special interest books.
As part of the Transformation Network, Marie G Davis will sponsor at least two Family Literacy events which will focus on ways that families can encourage and cultivate literacy. At each of these events, parents/guardians will be able to choose up to two adult books for themselves, as well as each child represented will receive one book, chosen either by the adult or the child. Most of these books will come from Promising Pages, again supplemented by Park Road. But Park Road will be responsible for picking up the books and displaying them at these events. We hope these books will be an incentive to bring more parents to these meetings as well as providing another way to get books into the hands of the families at Marie G Davis. The total number of books each child will receive this year will be at least 14, significantly more than we have been able to do in the past.
While Park Road will no longer need to provide most of the books and will not pack bags as we have done in the past, we will still be very involved in these book distributions.
There are still ways you can help this effort:
Clean out your child’s books shelves and donate the books they have outgrown.
Clean out YOUR books that you no longer want. These can be used for the adults at the Family Literacy events or may be traded for store credit at one of the used bookstores in town and used to get used books the children have requested.
You can leave donated books in a bin in the outer church office, or you can get them directly to George Miles.
If you have an urge to buy new books for this effort, please reconsider. We will be purchasing some books this year to supplement what Promising Pages will be contributing. We have found sources that are much cheaper even than Amazon. We also know the specific book titles and series in which the children have expressed interest. You can donate money to this effort however – just flag your donation as “Support Our Schools Books”.
Volunteer to help with some of the book “events” to be held at Marie G Davis. (You must be a registered CMS volunteer to help!) Dates will be announced as the events approach.
Section 7 – Important Dates
August 26 – First day of school for students
October 31 (tentative) - First Book-A-Palooza event at Marie G Davis
December 16-20 – Second Book-A-Palooza event at Marie G Davis
December 23-January 3 – Winter break
April 6-8 – Third Book-A-Palooza event at Marie G Davis
April 9-17 – Spring break
June 1 (tentative) – Books on Break event
June 9 – Last day of school for students