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!