Monday, September 08, 2008
My wife is a teacher at Rockrest Elementary just South of Monroe. She got her 15 students two weeks ago knowing very little about them because they are only in 1st grade. Their start was the same as every other first grader in the county. They were nervous. Some of them cried. One even brought a change of shorts on the first day "just in case." The big difference for them is that they will have a much harder time graduating from first grade than their peers in other schools.

That is because Heather's school is a Title-1 school which means that over 50% of the students are on free or reduced-price lunch. At Rockrest the number of students receiving financial assistance is closer to 90%. Sixty percent of the students are hispanic, Thirty-eight percent are african american, and 2% are white. Heather's class matches the demographics almost perfectly.

But it's not really about numbers or statistics; it's about 15 kids. They are well behaved and their parents are generally involved. Unfortunately, 9 of them have individual education plans because they are already behind their grade level. None of the kids got all the letters right on an early evaluation test and most cannot count to 20. A couple know almost no English at all while several others learned a good amount in kindergarden (these students usually translate for the others).

In order for them to graduate on grade level it will take a committed teacher (check), parent involvement (check-minus), plenty of financial resources for learning tools (uh-oh), and one-on-one attention from committed volunteers willing to read with them (not looking good). And this is the story of every classroom in a Title-1 school.

This is why part of Give Love Away is a strategic community service initiative called the Give:Love Project. Each campus will adopt a local Title-1 school and shower the administration, teachers, and students with time, attention, and resources. When God's concern for the local church intersects with His concern for the materially poor you know you are investing in a rock-solid investment. That's why it's time to Give Love Away.

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