The vision for Arise2Read Walker County began when BJ and I attended a SEND Conference in Dallas, TX...
As we sat and listened to Arise2Read’s founder Donna Gaines talk about the program and how it is impacting Shelby County in Tennessee, I felt a stirring inside me.
“ I knew I was at that conference “for such a time as this” and believed the Lord was asking us to start Arise2Read in Huntsville.”
As I sat there weeping, I could see the faces of some of my students who could benefit from such a program.
After getting home, I began to talk to my principal Shannon Williams and my partner teacher Kim Merchant about trying to start the program at Scott Johnson Elementary, our campus. They were both on board, so our 3 churches, Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Covenant Fellowship, and University Heights Baptist Church, partnered together to make it happen. In September 2017, BJ and I were prepared to fly to Memphis for their training, but Hurricane Harvey had other plans. Not to be deterred, we asked Ellen Ellis, our contact in Memphis, to fly to Texas and train a group of us. She graciously accepted and did a fabulous job of inspiring and training us.
We held a couple of trainings in the Scott Johnson cafeteria, and by January 2018, we were ready to roll out the pilot program. From January - April, 47 volunteers tutored 96 students. The post-test results showed that every student had doubled or bettered where they started. We were thrilled with the success of these students after only 11 weeks.
In September 2018, we started on 2 campuses, Scott Johnson Elementary and Huntsville Elementary, and in January 2019, we started at Stewart Elementary. For the 2019-2020 school year, we have officially started on all 4 Huntsville elementary campuses, adding Samuel Walker Houston Elementary this year.
It is amazing what God has done in such a short amount of time--something ONLY He can do! It is fulfilling to watch students so excited about their volunteers showing up, teachers getting the community support they deserve, and volunteers leaving with smiles on their faces every week, because what they are doing makes an impact!