Springfield Promise Neighborhood is asking Wittenberg’s senior class to lend support to Lincoln Elementary students by sending letters of encouragement to the Kindergarten through Sixth graders.
Springfield Promise Neighborhood, which became an official organization almost two years ago, works with Lincoln Elementary, Springfield City School’s lowest performing elementary school, to encourage students to graduate from high school. Robert Welker, Ph.D, the Project Director for Springfield Promise Neighborhood, said their goal is to transform the climate of the school.
According to Welker, there is an invisibility factor for these children in that the world’s potential is invisible to them. Many of the students’ parents did not graduate from high school and very few students have thought about college or have any idea how to get there.
“We want to show the children that their past does not determine their destiny. They have the ability to craft a prosperous future, and it starts with what they do in this school,” Welker said.
Part of the organization’s promise to the students is that they will provide encouragement and show the kids that someone, even if it is someone they don’t necessarily know, believes in them. And that is precisely what the new initiative of Springfield Promise Neighborhood is attempting to do.
There are around 400 Lincoln Elementary students, which is just about equal to the numbers of Wittenberg seniors. The group is organizing an “adoption” of Lincoln Elementary by the Class of 2012, where each senior will write a letter to one student that encourages them to stay in school and that lets the child know that someone believes in them.
Each senior will be given an “About Me” bio that a Lincoln student has written, to make the letter more personal. Though
the details are still being worked out, Welker believes the letters will be given to the students after the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. assembly in January.
“Each one of us had someone that told us we could do it, someone that held a promise for us. Now we are holding that promise for the children at Lincoln,” Welker said. “The kids are going to get a huge kick out of the letters. It will be something they will remember their whole life.”
Those already involved with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood have also made PRIDE bracelets, which Welker said were inspired by the Livestrong bracelets after Livestrong’s President and CEO, Doug Ulman, spoke at last year’s commencement. PRIDE is Lincoln Elementary’s motto: Prepared and ready to learn, Respect, Integrity, Determination, and Effort, which Welker jokingly compared to an Aretha Franklin song.
Each senior will be given two bracelets (it has not been determined if the seniors will be asked to purchase the bracelets or if the senior class budget will cover it), one for the senior to wear and one to give to the students with their letters. The proceeds from the bracelets will go to Springfield Promise Neighborhood.
“The bracelets are a physical reminder of the connection between the student and the senior,” Adie Liefeld, a senior Education major who works as the Promise Research Associate.
According to Liefled and Bella Rose, a senior Education major who is the Promise Student Resource Director, a Facebook group and a Promise club on campus is being created and a Founder’s event to advertise the letter-writing event is in the works.
But as of now, if you are interested in getting involved with Springfield Promise Neighborhood and would like to write a letter to a student, you should contact one of the Wittenberg students listed below. These students are each in charge of one of the 20 classrooms at Lincoln Elementary and are coordinating this event.
(Lauren Harris / firstname.lastname@example.org)