A partnership program between the Allen County School District and the local faith community has been deemed very successful at the conclusion of the its first year.
The Points of Light Partnership was created last year in an effort to help connect volunteers from local churches with students needing extra help in reading and math and/or with a child who just needed a positive mentor.
“There is a great need in our schools, and we would love to have more volunteers to assist our students who require extra help and guidance,’ explained Allen County School Superintendent Randall Jackson at the launch of the program last August. “This can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many children, and I hope that the partnership program can accomplish great results.”
Last Friday, the school distinct hosted a luncheon to thank the approximately 50 volunteers who stepped forward to participate in the program this year. In his remarks, Jackson said the Points of Light Program “was a tremendous success’” and hopes to see the program grow in the coming year.
Since last fall, the Points of Light program has seen volunteers spend time with students---primary at the Allen County Primary Center, the Allen County Intermediate Center and the James E. Bazzell Middle School.
“I enjoyed my time around the children” explained Martha Shadix, a Point of Light partner at the Allen County Primary Center. “It was a good experience. I hope I can get the same kids next year if they need tutoring but I also hope they want need the tutoring.”
Shadix was one of 30 Point of Life partners who worked with students at the Primary Center. Her duties included helping students with sight reading of words and sight word tutoring.
“I would go through lists of words with students and when they got a word wrong I would explain the difference between the word they used and what the word really meant,” Shadix explained.
Kim Huntsman was one of 12 partners serving in the program at the Allen County Intermediate Center. Her mentor role offered support for a young student.
“We would have lunch and just talk about girl things,” Huntsman said. “We talked about her family and maybe some things that were going on in her life that was hard for her. My student also took me to her classes and wanted me to read some of the things she had written. I really enjoyed my time with her.”
Partners also noted that it was always refreshing to see their students showing signs of improvement in their academics.
“I mentored a first grader,” added Brenda Brown, a partner who served at the Primary Center. “We would have lunch together. I also did some tutoring with some second graders. It was so great to see them making progress. I enjoyed it. We had a really good time.”
Points of Light partner Peggy Carter echoed Brown’s sentiments.
“I found it very rewarding,” added Carter speaking about her role as both a tutor and mentor. “I helped him read books for about 20 minutes and then we would go to lunch. When I would go and knock on his door, I could see the biggest smile on his face. Then, when I would leave from lunch, he would give me a hug. He’s really opened up. It’s probably been more rewarding for me than it has been for him.”
The Primary Center saw the largest number of Points of Light volunteers---an increase from previous years when only a few volunteers were available to work with students.
“I know that so many good things will happen for these children in the future because of the influence that our volunteers have had on them this year,” noted Kathy Clark, Reading Coach at the Primary Center. “I just want to thank you for the love and understanding you have shown to our children. Anytime you were with a child, it was never, never wasted time. In the future, we will see a difference because you were there.”
The Points of Light Program will resume in the fall and more partners are needed. Clark noted that she would like to see 40 volunteers who will work with students next year, just at the Primary Center.
“We had 13 people that did sight words with our children and those 13 people worked with 55 children,” Clark said. “I would like that number to grow. I would like to have at least 40 or more because I would like to have one for every classroom. We also had 17 mentors that ate lunch and were buddies with children.”
Primary Center principal Tim Wilson thanked the partners and added that their work will be reflected in the years to come.
“Your presence makes a world of difference,’ Wilson said. “We will it see in many ways. These kids will see that they are loved. I have had parents call in and say thank you. We will see results in tangible ways. We will see results in test scores for these students. Thank you very much.”
“It’s been a great experience and a great blessing to me,’ added Danny Patrick, the pastor at East Willow Church of God who volunteered at the middle school. “I think it’s a great program and I’m going to encourage more to come and be a part.”
Clark also gave the partners an assignment during the summer break which begins this week.
“You have a job to do this summer,’ Clark told the volunteers at the luncheon. “I want you to talk to people at your church and talk to people in other organizations that you know. Tell them how the program has worked for you. I know this helped you as well.”
The Points of Light program will resume in August. For more information or to learn how to volunteer, contact the Allen County Board of Education at 270-618-3181.