Morgan County Middle School gives back
By Brandon Park
A little more than 10 years ago, now retired educator Carol Anderson began an advisement program at Morgan County Middle School that focuses on students and teacher relations known as the Pro-Time group.
Together, this group of students and teachers collectively find ways to help the less fortunate people not only in our community, but across the world.
"Through this program we teach students valuable lessons about life," MCMS Principal Joe Hutcheson said. "It also lets the students know that there are caring adults in the building."
Last year, seventh grade teacher Annie Adams gathered her homeroom class and began a "give-back" project that would impact her students for months to come.
Adams took it upon herself to contact the Wagenhauser's, a local Peace Corps family that has ties to several less fortunate countries. A conversation was established and the mission was underway.
Adams relayed the plan to her Pro-Time group and action was taken immediately.
It was decided that the group would gather flip-flops and school supplies, then ship them to a middle school in Mali, Africa.
"I was great to see the students take it upon themselves to gather the items," Adams said. "The enthusiasm they expressed was great to see, knowing they weren't going to receive anything in return. I was very proud."
Only a few weeks after the idea was conceived, the Pro-time group collected and packaged 30 pairs of flip-flops, notebooks, pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, rulers, scissors, paper, binders, markers and thai dolls that would be shipped to Dialafara, a remote village near Mali.
In a letter of communication sent from Betsy Wagenhauser, she wrote that some schools were so remote that "when Americans say 'Timbuktou' they are usally using it as a metaphor for a place that is at the ends of the earth. Well, these villages are even farther than that."
Naturally, it took a while for the package to arrive.
On May 24, more than a year after the packages were sent, Wagenhauser received an email from Andrew Wallace, a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Dialafara, Africa (the final destination of the items) letting her know that the package had been received.
A few days later, Adams received a letter from the Dialafara middle school class that received the gifts.
"On behalf of the students, parents and teachers of Dialafara, we would like to thank you for your generous contributions of shoes and school supplies," the letter stated. "We hope that that your gift will be a motivation for students to study, and teachers to work harder. We hope also that this gift will be a beginning of a friendship between the community of Dialafara and you."
The letter is signed by the teachers.
Sent with the letter was a Mali hand woven Bogolan cloth.
The cloth will be framed and displayed in the halls of MCES to remind teachers and students of the efforts that have been and will put forth to help those who need it, Hutcheson said.
"To receive something that is hand woven, hand made in a county that doesn't have the luxuries that we have, that is what made it very special," Hutcheson said. "The students wanted to give back not expecting anything in return. The looks on the students faces was priceless. We really strive to teach our kids reading, writing an math, but we also focus on the life lessons that will develop them into mature young adults."
The Pro-Time group continues to initiate projects geared towards benefiting the less fortunate, both at home and abroad.