Memphis and Tennessee Conferences—Partnerships in Action
“Kids in Training (KIT)” is a state licensed after school program at Benton First United Methodist Church. They work with the schools and the Family Resource Centers by sending out flyers, announcements, and by providing scholarships for families that need assistance with tuition. They consider this not just an after school program, but a ministry of BFUMC as they offer families in the community quality childcare at an affordable price. KIT offers a nutritious snack, daily devotion, assistance with homework, fun-filled activities, and outdoor fun. In addition, the church has partnered with the Marshall County Preschool Head Start Program by allowing them to use the church’s facilities as the site for the county-wide child-find developmental screenings and by supporting them in hosting a Community Wide Health Fair entitled “Healthy Parents Raise Healthy Children”. They also hosted their family Thanksgiving meal and Christmas Lunch at the church. http://www.bentonfirstumc.com/children/programming/kit-kids-in-training
Volunteers from Centenary UMC in Memphis participated in Jumpstart’s national “Read for the Record” campaign, which allowed more than two million children and adults an opportunity to participate in one of the largest shared reading experiences across the country, designed to celebrate literacy. In addition, Centenary volunteers helped with Registration Day, Open House, Career Day, TCAP proctoring, volunteer tutoring, parent meetings and the annual Spelling Bee. http://centenarymemphis.com/
Christ UMC in Memphis, participates in a community-based, evidence-based, Parents as Teachers (PAT) program, in cooperation with the Binghampton Development Corporation and Porter Leath (www.porterleath.org). PAT promotes a combination of in-home support with preschool, the main goal being to begin preparation for entering school as early as pregnancy. PAT is another tool in the elimination of the achievement gap between the affluent and underserved children of Memphis. Additionally, Christ UMC supports Cornerstone Preparatory School-Lester Campus, located in the heart of Binghampton. The school utilizes academic rigor to equip all students with the skills and character necessary to succeed in college and to become life-changing leaders in their community. Cornerstone Prep-Lester Campus, formerly the lowest performing elementary school in the state, is now an Achievement School District school and has become one of the top performing schools in the country gaining national attention. Nasvhille’s Chris Barbic, ASD District Superintendent stated: “I want to congratulate you (CPS-LC) on your incredible TCAP scores. You had a great year and killed it on the test. I appreciate you and all of your hard work…” http://www.cumcmemphis.org/local
“In Christ’s love, every child is our child” is the belief at Cookeville FUMC. Volunteers assist Jere Whitson Elementary School by serving as reading buddies, classroom assistants, and teachers’ aides. All volunteers undergo a background check. A number of volunteers are present in the school every weekday providing one-on-one tutoring. They also act as the PTO providing grounds beautification and helping with field trips, teacher appreciation events, classroom parties, and proctors for TCAP testing. A representative from Cookeville FUMC participates in the Family Involvement Team and the Title 1 Team as well. They provide opportunities for families to have access to God’s Grace Food Pantry and Angel’s Attic Clothing ministries. Funds are designated throughout the year to help with school supplies and any special needs that may occur. www.cookevillefumc.org
The Neighborhood Ministries at Edgehill UMC hosts the “Brighter Days After School Ministry” which serves children from four different neighborhood schools. Children receive a healthy snack, conversation about their school day, and homework help from tutors/volunteers from Edgehill UMC, Belmont UMC, West End UMC, University School, and Vanderbilt University. Their “Brighter Days Summer Ministry” is a seven-week program for children, which provides educational and recreational activities including reading, mathematical skills, life and social skills, and gardening. Volunteers assist children in retaining educational skills from the previous school year. Outreach activities have included: Global Education Center, Tennessee State University Environmental Department, Nashville Zoo, Frist Center, Nashville Shores, and YWCA (swimming).
Fayetteville First UMC provides “Bags Of Blessings” to children at the local elementary school. Each Friday during the school year a bag of healthy, non-perishable food is sent home with children who would otherwise probably have little or nothing to eat over the weekend. The children are identified by teachers and guidance staff at each local school. Bags of Blessings (BOBs) is one of the programs of Hands of Mercy, an ecumenical outreach ministry in Fayetteville, TN. Hands of Mercy gathers donations from area churches and businesses and buys the food in bulk. Church members pack the food in bags and deliver the bags to each local school. It costs approximately $160 to provide food for one student for the entire school year, and FUMC has “adopted” 40 students for the coming year. http://www.fayetteville-fumc.com/
Fountain Avenue UMC in Paducah participates in a reading buddy program weekly, collects school supplies for back-to-school needs, and adopts classrooms and teachers for special projects and needs. They also serve as sponsors of the cub scout pack. The school sends home notices of their free community breakfasts and neighborhood fair. http://www.fountainavenuechurch.com/
Germantown UMC is participating in “Team Read” which was created by professionals at Caldwell-Guthrie. Volunteers are paired with second graders to teach the 1,000 foundational words of reading. Without knowing these foundational words—also called Fry words—on sight, no one can read. “Team Read” was adopted by Shelby County Schools as its elementary volunteer program. Flexible volunteer schedules and simple teaching are hallmarks of “Team Read” — and so are the results. SCS research shows the average coached students not only learned more foundational words but they scored higher in all aspects of reading skills than students with no coaching. http://www.germantownumc.org/
“The Freedom School” at Gordon Memorial UMC in Nashville is based on a model by the Children’s Defense Fund. It is a six-week summer reading and enrichment program for public school children in grades 4-8, particularly targeting children from low-income families and those who have academic and other challenges in school. Scholars meet from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day, spending the morning reading and discussing prescribed books and reinforcing their understanding of the lessons of their books. The books, selected by the Children’s Defense Fund, focus on heroes from the Black and Hispanic experiences, courageous women like Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mae Jemison, and famous events in American history, such as the desegregation of schools by the Little Rock Nine and the Freedom Summer of 1964. The program is free to all children, and includes a nutritious breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack; in addition, students get a book to take home each week. For more information, contact Garlinda Burton, director, at 615.497.1398; firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Virtue Quest” was founded by Heartsong Church in Cordova to help meet the needs of their nearby elementary school, Macon-Hall. Their relationship started when they shared a virtue based curriculum, Core Essentials, which is now taught throughout the school. Each month their volunteer reading team shares with the kindergarten through third grade classrooms a book that is selected by Macon-Hall’s administration and demonstrates that month’s virtue. The month long activities for each virtue are concluded with a live performance for all 1200 children by the Heartsong performance team consisting of successful professionals, stay at home parents, retired grandparents and teens who use their gifts of speaking, singing and technical knowledge a couple of hours each month to invest in the children. Additionally, mentors participate in one-on-one mentoring, team mentoring, or being a lunch buddy. Free tutoring in math and reading is available for students.
Hillsboro First United Methodist Church supports the “Community Backpack Program” which helps students of Hillsboro Elementary School by sending them home with supplemental weekend meals. The food is purchased through 2nd Harvest Food Bank. The program is run by donations and volunteers and takes approximately $3.50-$4.00 per week per child. http://www.hillsborofirstumc.org/index.htm
“Witnesses in God’s Sanctuary (WINGS)” is an outreach ministry of Jackson First UMC through a partnership with Arlington Elementary School. Through the ministry, mentors meet with students in 2nd-4th grade to work on academic skills and model Christian living. http://www.jacksonfumc.org/missions/five-essential-missions
Key Memorial UMC in Murfreesboro shares their land with two elementary schools for use as a community garden. Prior to planting the seeds, they have a seed blessing by one of the young members during the Children’s Moment. Apparently, the children of Key Memorial UMC can really pray well because each year the harvest from their small plot of ground yields the most incredible amount of vegetables!
Lock’s Memorial UMC in Arrington, TN sponsors a “Back-To-School-Blessings” ministry, which offers free school supplies to local schools and clothing to the community. Church members are invited to donate school supplies with collections taking place over a two-month period. During a worship service the items are blessed, and the school supplies are boxed into individual kits to be distributed to area schools. As an added aid to the recipient schools, Lock’s Memorial provides a blank card and pre-addressed envelope for the schools to return as a “Thank You” to the church. This event has been coordinated as a Community Service Project for a Boy Scout Merit Badge with supervision by the UMW and by the Children’s Department. In past years, the church has been blessed to host a clothing event for the community and for the Karen refugees from Mayanmar (Burma) who have been living in refugee camps in Thailand. The community was invited to the church to “shop” and to be treated to breakfast foods. Lock’s Memorial has found that “Little Is Much When God Is In It”!
Madison Street UMC in Clarksville recently began a partnership with Moore Magnet Elementary School, a school at which 64% of the students receive free or reduced lunch. They have collected clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, underwear, and socks as well as provided weekly tutoring for students. They plan to expand their tutoring ministry for the next school year by increasing the number of volunteers in order to provide each classroom with a tutor/mentor, donate school supplies and classroom items for the start of school, and work in the outdoor classroom which teaches children about sustainability, caring for the environment and growing their own fruits and vegetables. http://www.madisonstreetumc.org/
Maple Spring UMC in Marshall County, KY partners with Jonathan Elementary School by collecting school supplies, doing random acts of kindness for the teachers and staff, and preparing snack packs that are handed out on Fridays so that the students have something to eat over the weekend. They also purchase Christmas presents for the students, sponsor a Cub Scout Pack that meets at the church, and host a Children’s Summer Fling at a local Putt Putt course. Each child plays putt putt and goes through the mini zoo. The church provides hamburgers, hot dogs, and door prizes. Information about the church is handed out and each child receives Bible stories, activity sheets, and coloring pages to take home.
Mercy Street in Smyrna is a new church start, which is intentionally planning to meet in the Coleman Elementary School because it is the poorest school in the area. At Easter the church hosted an egg hunt to which some 300 people came for food, food bags, children’s activities and fellowship. They see being a part of this school and its community as a major part of its DNA. http://www.mercystreetchurch.com/
Mt. Pleasant UMC in Mt. Pleasant, TN has a Valuable After School Tutoring (VAST) ministry. They pick up 1st grade children after school to take them to the church each Monday when school is in session. Upon arrival at the church the children are given a snack, a Bible story is shared with them, and they go with their tutor to work on homework, reading, math, etc. At the end of tutoring they have a time in the computer lab to visit educational websites and do additional work. The tutoring teams are lead by retired teachers and other volunteers, and volunteers from Baptist and Presbyterian churches participate in this ministry. http://www.mtpleasantfumc.org/home.cfm
“MPACT” Making People Aware of Christ Today includes a partnership with a school located right behind Pelham UMC. Activities include story time puppets and an on-going “Create a Ceramic Nativity” project in which the students glaze a few pieces each month with a goal of being completed at Christmas. The men will make a wooden barn in which to store their sets. Also they have different story related crafts (i.e. matchstick cross for Easter) and creative snacks related to a Bible story (i.e. cross made of pretzels glued with chocolate and the different symbolic colors of fruits for snacks). http://www.pelhamumc.org/
At the beginning of the school year, St. John’s UMC in Memphis hosts a breakfast for teachers, administrators, and staff. Money and school supplies are also provided because many Bruce School students live below the poverty level and/or are newly immigrated to the United States (with some children from migratory families) and arrive at Bruce without pencils, paper, or the district-mandated school uniforms children. The most important part of the ministry is tutoring at the school throughout the year and in preparation for the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Test (TCAP). St. John’s also provides proctors for the administration of the TCAP. At Christmas, they make the sanctuary available for the school musical program and provide candy canes. Hats and gloves are given to the school counselor for those children who need them. St. John’s conducts an essay contest at the end of the school year for fourth and fifth graders. Cash prizes and certificates are awarded to the winners at a recognition banquet. At least one book is provided to each first grader as the final act of the school year. http://www.stjohnsmidtown.org/bruceschool
St. Luke’s UMC in Memphis has had a relationship for several years with a local neighborhood school, Sherwood Elementary. Their partnership with includes back-to-school supplies and backpacks, mittens, gloves, and winter coats for the Christmas season, hosting choir concerts, and providing Easter suits and dresses for children at Easter. They also have begun a partnership with Memphis Teacher Residency (http://memphistr.org) in a program called MTR Reads, a team reading concept used to help children get to their appropriate reading grade levels. Upon completing a training event, volunteers go to the school each week to “coach” the students on the Frye Reading Words. The relationships built with the students are outstanding. Watching the progress made by these students who truly wanted to grow in their reading skills is remarkable. http://stlukesumc.org
The “Reach Back Program” at St. Matthew’s UMC in Memphis enriches the lives of marginalized youth through mentoring, field trips, educational challenges, and community service. Memphis University student interns “pay it forward” by tutoring and mentoring pre-teens and younger adolescents. Community leaders participate in classes through storytelling and engaging the participants in goal exploration. Role-playing and skits encourage children to make more appropriate decisions to impact change in themselves, their neighborhood and community. http://www.stmattsmemphis.org/index.html
“Fourth Graders to College” was begun at Tennessee State University Wesley Foundation when they realized that many TSU students participating in campus ministry were the first to go to college in their families. Students shared that they were exposed to college at a young age and were inspired to go to college by someone in the community who took the time to do so. They wanted to help youngsters find their way to college by inspiring and exposing them to campus life at Tennessee State University. They adopted a fourth grade class and brought them to campus to spend a day with them learning about college. During the campus tour, the children went to class with students, were given a mini concert in the Music Department, visited the student center, ate lunch, interviewed students, and talked with student leaders, cheerleaders and athletes. The partnership continued with TSU Wesley students visiting the children at their Christmas party, cheering them on to take their standardized tests with treats and notes, and becoming pen pals. http://www.tsuwesley.org/
Trinity Church in Springhill worked with Juvenile Court of Williamson County to provide a free seminar to the parents of Summit High entitled “Alcohol, Drugs, and Teens = A Bad Mix.” They also sponsored a 4-week parenting series as well as provided meals for the “Jet Pack Mission” for students of food deficient households for the weekend. Research shows: In schools with weekend backpack programs…Attendance is up on Fridays & Mondays; visits to the school nurse are down; test scores are up; positive behavior and self-confidence are boosted. http://www.trinityspringhill.org/