College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

North Mississippi Vista Summer Associates Press Release

Marion McBride (left), principal at Crenshaw Elementary School; AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates Jovon Lee, Deunta Howard and Eugene McGee; and Andrea Buck, librarian at Crenshaw Elementary, work at the school this summer.

Twenty recent high school graduates, several college students and a high school teacher devoted much of their June and July to help fight poverty through education by serving nonprofit organizations and schools in several north Mississippi communities.

The North Mississippi VISTA Summer Associates worked 40-hour weeks on projects to benefit low-income children in Batesville, Crenshaw, Sardis, Okolona, Holly Springs and Oxford. They gained valuable experience and earned money for college.“We have been thoroughly impressed by the work of our summer associates,” said Sharon Levine, project coordinator in the University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts. “The school principals and nonprofit leaders who supervised our members are praising their efforts. All of the supervisors have said, ‘I don’t know what we would have done without them.’ Given this success, we hope that we can replicate the program next summer.”

Each of the summer associates spent six weeks at one of eight host sites: Crenshaw Elementary School, North Panola High School, the Boys and Girls Club in Oxford, Batesville Intermediate School, the University of Mississippi Museum, Baby Steps in Okolona, the UM College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Teacher Corps Extended-Year Summer Program in Holly Springs.

As mandated by Congress in 1964, “AmeriCorps VISTA builds permanent infrastructure in nonprofit organizations to help them more effectively bring individuals and communities out of poverty.”

Through their work this summer, UM VISTA associates accomplished a wide variety of tasks. Crenshaw Elementary has a newly cataloged library and a reorganized teacher resource center. North Panola High School has freshly waxed floors, repainted study cubicles and fresh landscaping, and UM is planning a six-week enrichment program for low-income children, set to launch next summer.

Other projects included recording teacher lessons and creating a database of videos and resources for incoming teachers for the Mississippi Teacher Corps (see some here: http://mtc.olemiss.edu/about/training-methods), leading student day camps at the UM Museum and teaching computer and literacy classes at the Boys and Girls Club.

“We are pleased to bring this program to north Mississippi, and we thank the Corporation for National and Community Service for providing such valuable resources,” said Stephen Monroe, assistant dean of liberal arts and director of the North Mississippi VISTA Project. “Young people from our region, including many of our own college students, worked hard this summer on projects that matter. Everything they did will directly benefit Mississippi’s schoolchildren. Along the way, our associates earned money for college and gained valuable work experience.”

The Summer Associates blogged about their summer service at http://umsummerassociates2012.blogspot.com.

For more information, contact Stephen Monroe at smonroe@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7178