Greetings from Jackson Public Schools! The halls are quiet these days since it is summer vacation, but I am keeping myself busy with meetings and year-end reflections with teachers.
This year has been a whirlwind! Since February, I’ve had three large scale events: Community Service Volunteer Fair (CSVF), Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), and Earth Day in the Park; not to mention a lot of smaller, one or two classroom-sized events! The teachers here in Jackson kept me busy!
The Community Service Volunteer Fair was my VISTA Year Initiative that took place at Lumen Christi Catholic High School in March. I worked with Father Dan Lannen, Religion Teacher and Chaplain, to bring together 22 community organizations and approximately 300 Jackson students from Lumen, Jackson Catholic Middle School, Northwest High School, and Middle School at Parkside. Students visited each organization’s booth to hear about how they utilize volunteers to better the Jackson community. The goal of the event was to give students an opportunity to see what is working in their community and how they can help. The event was a great success: most students commented that they had found organizations they were planning on working with in the future, and had spoken with organizations they had not even known existed!
GYSD was another large-scale event held on April 17! MNA’s Signature Service Project provided a mini-grant to help with funding. Chelsea, Lee, and June worked with the Jackson VISTAs (Ebone’, Leslie, and myself) and students from TA Wilson Academy, Northwest Elementary, and Northwest High School on a school beautification program called Project Green & Go. TA Wilson has been carrying out this GYSD project for 4 years and this year we were able to expand it to include volunteers from Northwest. These students and volunteers traveled to McCulloch Academy and Bennett Elementary to do school clean up, plant flowers, and do crafts with the students at each school. This was a very large scale event that had approximately 480 people working together over the course of the day!
I was able to be a part of Earth Day in the Park on April 25. This was a huge collaboration between Jackson County Conservation District and Jackson County Parks Department to get people in Jackson excited about being/going Green, recycling, and animals! There were 25 organizations at the event, including a student named Danielle from Middle School at Parkside who is trying to start her own non-profit called Take Cancer Down. (www.takecancerdown.weebly.com) The Earth Day event was a lot of fun and a great opportunity for students to see practical applications of science and recycling in action!
This year has been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work! I’ve got two months left and I can’t wait to see what else the Jackson community has got up its’ sleeves!
My name is Meg McElhone and I am the MNA LEAGUE VISTA for Jackson Public Schools in Jackson, MI. My job is to work with teachers and students on service learning projects in their classrooms. I am involved with ideas, planning, and implementation. This is my first year as a VISTA and cannot believe how the months have flown by!
I have been honored to work with a great array of grades and teachers. I work with a number of schools every day: checking on teacher’s ideas, collecting donations, talking with students about service learning, and helping to plan service learning events in the Jackson community.
A project I have been working on is the Adopt-A-Hero (AAH) program. AAH works with Jackson Police Department, Jackson Fire Department, Michigan State Police stationed in Jackson, Cascades Elementary School, McCulloch Academy, and Northeast Elementary School. In the program, a community hero is assigned to each participating classroom. The Hero will then visit their assigned classroom at least once a month to talk about their job in the community. The students in return can thank their community Hero by sending cards, letters, or holiday greetings. AAH gives the elementary school students the chance to get to know these community heroes on a personal level.
Another program that I am currently involved in is Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) at Bennett Elementary School. FUTP60 is a program encouraging students to eat healthy and be active for 60 minutes a day. I work with group of students called the Student Captains. I meet with the Captains on a weekly basis, helping them to pick a Healthy Food of the Month and a corresponding Recipe of the Month. We research the benefits of this chosen food and design a bulletin board. FUTP60 is a year-long program.
I have also had the privilege of assisting Northwest High School with a Dodgeball Tournament to benefit Special Olympics, Northwest School District and Frost Elementary School with collections for the Together We Can Make A Difference and St. Vincent DePaul’s annual Priceless Gift Toy Store (which helped out over 4,000 Jackson families this holiday season through donations), the Middle School at Parkside National Junior Honor Society to sign 275 greeting cards for soldiers through Operation Cuppa Joe, and visiting several community organizations for other service learning projects. Two of the classrooms I work closely with were featured on The Bart Hawley Show on J-TV, the Jackson cable network, to talk about their Service Learning projects in the Jackson community, as well.
This year has been very productive and a lot of fun. Upcoming are plans for a Community Service Volunteer Fair event in March to benefit Lumen Christi High School, Northwest High School, Jackson High School, and the Middle School at Parkside in March; and a large-scale Earth Day event with the Jackson County Conservation District in April for all the Jackson Public elementary schools. I cannot wait to see what this community has in store for me moving forward!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!