For the past three years, members of the Southside Baptist Church in San Marco have worked in partnership with Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School. The bridge between this faith based partner and school has been built on a combination of teacher and staff support and mentoring. These volunteers go above and beyond to inspire their student mentees and to enrich the school environment.
In late February, a representative from the church met with Assistant Principal Sara Bravo. They wanted to do more. In addition to the teacher appreciation events and the extensive and powerful student mentoring, these folks were ready to get hands on and they weren’t leaving without an assignment.
A small classroom on the first floor is used regularly for parent conferences. Typical middle school classrooms are lively places, covered with student work, posters of Einstein, five colors of dry erase marker on the board and other evidences of youth and learning. A classroom without a class, however, is a sterile space. White walls, plain furniture, hard chairs … a space that did not hinder a conference, but certainly did nothing to enhance. Ms. Bravo suggested the generous mentor and his “team” could add a bit of life to the room and make it a more appealing space for parents and teachers to gather.
The following Saturday a group of twenty Southside Baptist Church members descended upon Julia Landon and spent the morning showing a remarkable talent for interior decorating. The blank canvas of empty classroom was transformed into a warm, inviting and positive space. A theme of antiqued bronze lettering runs through the new side table, framed artwork and metal-worked lettering matching the new cushy sofa, chair and ottoman set.
Additionally, for the sheer joy of good work, they brought their garden tools and did some serious landscaping. Around the new school sign at the front entrance were planted Wild Indian Hawthorne, Aztec Grass and “Double Knockout” Roses. In addition, the volunteers raked and cleaned the central courtyard and the front and side lawns.
Visitors are now greeted with lovely plantings as they approach the front doors. The center courtyard, now clear of leaves and debris, is a magnetizing space for teachers to take their classes for an outdoor reading or an examination of emerging spring foliage. The conference room is now a warm and inviting place to hold meetings complete with a comfortable furniture, tasteful artwork, soothing lighting and a wall quote that captures the essence of the bridge between church and school: “It takes a village to educate a child”.