Hello all. Looking back a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought that right now I would be wrapping up my VISTA service in Jackson. It’s been quite a year. I made a difference being part of a program that helps set K-2 elementary school students up for success in school by improving their literacy skills. I have watched countless Family Involvement Nights at schools bring large crowds and lots of fun as families are provided with information. This year I wrote two grants, one being successful and helpful toward these Family Involvement Nights while the notification of the other will be in the Fall. I was a part of MNA’s Signature Service Project: Global Youth Service Day with the other Jackson VISTAs; Chelsea Martin, MNA Civic Engagement Manager and VISTA Leaders, June LaVernway and Lee Xiong. It was incredible to see all the hard work students put into it.
Summer is here and school is out so a lot has slowed down. My main focus now has been compiling data from all the schools we’re work with and putting together reports. Students have achieved so much and I’m really eager to see the numbers. The 2nd grader and mentioned in my last blog ended up reading above grade level. I think I have gained a lot from this past year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I find myself being much more involved in the community in which I grew up. I find I know a lot more about my community from working with my host site, United Way for the past year. The work that I have done and the work that is still left to do has me wanting to be involved and seeing other young people my age be active in their communities. I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned and using it in whatever comes next for me!
Hello. My name is Ebone’ Worthey and I am an MNA VISTA serving at United Way of Jackson County. I was born and raised in Jackson so it means a lot to me that I am able to serve here and give back to my community. United Way is my host site and in 2012 they, in addition to Consumer’s Energy, helped kick off Energizing Education, the program I work with. Energizing Education is a K-2 literacy support program that was created to make sure all students in Jackson County read at or above grade level by the 4th grade. Part of my job, as well everyone here, is that we recruit community members, retirees, college students, etc. to mentor K-2 students for 30 minutes twice a week. This means that mentors come in and read for at least 20 minutes and help students with word work and others areas like comprehension so that they become more fluent in reading. I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to mentor along with doing my office job. I have a 2nd grader and he has made great process since I met him and I’m looking forward to watching him grow even more.
My assignment for this year is to do various activities that will help improve learning and success in low achieving schools. This year we brought on two additional schools in the county, taking our total to 6 elementary schools. My day to day job involves posting on social media and visiting schools for current news, pictures, and making sure site coordinators who support the in-class mentoring are all set to do their job. A big part of what I do is communications. Not only do I have our online social media pages, but I spend a great deal of time reaching out to local newspapers, radio and news stations, and many other outlets to help get the word out on what we do since we are still a fairly new program. Last month our staff was featured on the Good Morning Greater Jackson radio show where we all spoke about our program. We are often featured in Mlive stories and I am responsible each month for writing a newsletter for each school we are at. Maintaining our website and creating flyers and brochures are also a few of my responsibilities.
Currently I am working on a grant (my first grant ever!) that if we receive will help support our schools and family nights we host each month. Being halfway through my service I like to think that I have learned a lot and have been given many opportunities to grow professionally and personally. There are a few things I’m looking forward to such as our family night in March which tends to be a big event at upwards of 1,000+ people. Helping plan Global Youth Service Day with fellow VISTAs who serve in my area should also be fun. I’m excited to see what the rest of the year brings!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!