ADOPT-A-SCHOOL PROGRAM AT MORT ELEMENTARY, A COMMUNITY SCHOOL IN TAMPA, FL
In 2012, Bay Hope Church “adopted” Mort Elementary, a school located only 8 miles from our church but in many ways is a world apart. Mort students live in a neighborhood considered a “pocket of extreme poverty”. As we work to create tangible and lasting positive change for our neighbors in the Tampa Bay area, we send more than 35 volunteers to Mort each week to help with kindergarten reading, parenting classes, food and clothing distribution, office support and much more. Along with seven other community agencies, Bay Hope has committed to work together as a network of support for Mort to help create an environment which empowers students, encourages parents and teachers, enriches families and elevates the entire community and is a living reflection of the love of Christ.
Here is a look at the seeds we are planting at Mort:
Volunteers in Kindergarten spend one-on-one time with students, helping them learn basic literacy skills. Since a majority of Mort’s Kindergarten students have not attended VPK or preschool, they face big challenges in meeting Florida standards for Kindergarten. Supporting the teachers’ plans, our 35 weekly volunteers use games and tools to introduce the alphabet, letter sounds, sight words, sentence formation and reading comprehension. We work to open a world of opportunities for each child, one letter at a time. We also assist in the media center.
Growing Parents’ Knowledge
Mort’s Parent Resource Center is a safe and comfortable place offering families a variety of helpful resources. Families can participate in parenting classes on topics such as how to help their children be successful in school; household budgeting; positive discipline and more. These classes grow a sense of community among parents who are also more likely to volunteer in school. We assist with childcare for the parents while they attend classes.
Growing Peace by Providing for Basic Needs
Bay Hope Church has established a food pantry and clothing closet that benefit about 20 families a week. Each Tuesday and Thursday, our loving volunteers assist families who need emergency help meeting basic needs. These families lack transportation to services outside their neighborhood and need help for a variety of reasons, from homelessness to job losses and illness.
Growing Family Involvement
The Family Involvement Program has been highly effective in helping parents more actively participate in their child's education. Parents earn credits for attending teacher conferences, parenting classes, special events and by volunteering. Parents can redeem credits for household goods, clothing and toys at conference nights during the year when they visit "MortMart" in the cafeteria. Volunteers gather and sort items for the store throughout the year. They set up the store on each conference night and assist the families as they shop. Bilingual volunteers play an essential role in establishing relationships with families, where both are blessed by this program.
Growing A Positive Environment for Staff and Students
The staff at Mort works tirelessly to foster an environment where children can be successful students. We provide treats and encouragement for the faculty throughout the year that encourages them and lets them know they are appreciated and loved.
Growing in Christ’s Love
As we serve, encourage, pray for and provide for the needs of all of those who are members of the Mort community, and in doing so sometimes step out of our comfort zone, we not only serve our neighbors as ourselves, but we are blessed beyond measure! We invite you to join us!