About a month ago, All Our Children was excited to welcome the partnership between the Church of the Holy Comforter and Newlin Elementary School as a member of our network. Their partnership, based in Burlington, North Carolina, is 3 years old and does everything from providing supplies and supporting teachers to tutoring students one-on-one and providing literacy support. We’re happy to have this robust partnership in the network and look forward to supporting them in their mission and helping them grow. Welcome them with your own sentiments in the comments section, and let them know they are part of our community!
Meet the Newlin School Partnership – an interview with Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Hykes
AOC: What motivated your congregation to launch your partnership?
KH: One of our parishioners started tutoring one child at Newlin through an educational advocacy agency. Realizing that her skills could be upgraded she turned to the Augustine Literacy Project in Chapel Hill, NC which trains tutors using the Orton-Gillingham approach and Wilson Reading System materials. In 2011 she decided to begin a local chapter, replicating the Chapel Hill model and engaging volunteers in the parish.
As the tutors spent time in the school the need for additional help became evident. At that point church members were enlisted to form a task-force to explore what needs Newlin had and how the church might meet them.
A foundational motivation for founding the Partnership came from the Bishop [The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, NC] in the diocese who encouraged churches to go out of the church to discover who was in their neighborhoods and find out what they needed. The Partnership was a response to that call as well.
AOC: What is your partnership’s biggest on going challenge?
KH: Volunteers and funding. We hold a golf tournament to fund the backpack program which costs $10,000 a year. About 75 parishioners are engaged in the project in one capacity or another. Keeping focused is also an issue, as the demands outstrip the time available.
AOC: What needs are you meeting in your partner school?
KH: We provide 18 trained Augustine tutors who commit to sixty units of tutoring a year. We have fourteen volunteers called “Lucky Listeners” who have children read to them once a week. We supply weekend Back packs for fifty children each week. Eighteen “classroom buddies” provide what typically would be done by a room mother in former days. We offer membership in the local classroom closet which gives teachers free classroom supplies. We offer scholarships for various enrichment activities such as class field trips, and we offer a summer enrichment camp for one week for twelve rising 3rd-graders with field trips, crafts and literacy projects. That camp program also engages middle school students as junior counselors. We also hold an annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon that all teachers and staff attend with all members of the parish who are involved in the project invited. This is a relationship and morale building strategy that everyone enjoys.