How Immanuel Nashville Mapped Their Service at Park Ave.

A Team United

Immanuel Nashville first launched a team of 5 people to serve at Park Avenue Elementary, primarily as "Lunch Buddies" in spring 2017. Over the summer, Ellen gathered this team of 5 to serve as her leadership team. As a group, they decided to adapt their action plan to better fit what their church body could provide to meet the needs of the school. Meeting with the school liaison and the head teachers for literacy and math, the team mapped out a new plan for fall 2017 where their growing team of volunteers could serve as classroom tutors - focusing on literacy and math needs.

 What does your team "look" like?  

 I designated team members to (1) help recruit and communicate with volunteers, (2) help with hospitality in the school for teachers and special events, and (3) be the communication touch-point for our church's prayer volunteers. This resulted in many coming forward to volunteer.

What unexpected things have you discovered?

One of the most interesting results of establishing this team has been that, with the exception of one or two, I did not personally know these individuals prior to them joining our team. The Lord brought us together to serve. We have a variety of backgrounds, ages, and genders. It is a joy to see how this made our team stronger and more committed than if I had just asked a bunch of my friends to join me in this endeavor. The Lord knew exactly who we needed and He provided from the beginning!

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How do you empower your volunteers?

As I have new volunteers interested in serving, I will pair them with a more seasoned volunteer to shadow to get them started. I do work hard to not put more pressure on an individual's schedule than they can handle. This is my approach - keep the main thing, the main thing. Let them do the work they signed on for and not add extras which can be burdensome to an already busy week. When we do meet, I have a purpose behind it and try to not "over-manage" all the phenomenal work they are doing.

Servant Leadership - Be a Ready Listener

  • "Judith Harrison lives out her faith through her passion of making a difference in the lives of students at Lillard Elementary School. She shows us servant leadership, encouraging others to lead and inspire daily. I am so blessed to have such a loyal, joyful friend in my life these many years as we ‘do life’ together!" - Janet Slayden, United4Hope Co-Founder.

Staring a new year is important.

As a servant leader Judith looks ahead, finding ways to gather a cross-section of people in the planning and decision making process. In an interview with United4Hope, Judith noted the importance of being an active listener.

As an example, each school celebrates in unique ways, and identifying a school's traditions is being respectful of their insights.  Judith recommends engaging with your schools during Black History Month and Read Across America Week.  First, initiate a correspondence or conversation that will allow your school to outline ways your congregation can assist them. Second, be a good listener by taking notes and providing follow-up after your meeting. These are two core qualities of servant leadership. 

February and March are positive opportunities for impacting History and Literacy in your partnership. Judith recommends this three-step approach:

(1) Ask your school leader how the faculty and staff celebrate Black History month and how you and your team can assist in this honor;

(2) Be aware are free local activities appropriate to age/grade at the Frist Center and all Nashville Public Libraries have resources;

(3) Have fresh resources ready for Black History celebrations and providing for guest readers for Read Across America Week in the event no one has taken the lead at your school.

Literacy specialty items like “history-tip” pencils, bookmarks or other resources can benefit school libraries and classrooms. Consider researching a historical figure’s favorite recipe, make it to taste-test and provide quick facts for students and teachers, as a dual-delight.

Be sure to have a list of special readers or speakers from your church to share life stories or career expertise. Be conscientious of providing resources and speakers who are representative of the students in your school.  Your resources are invaluable during these winter months that can be filled with motivation and dream-building for students.

Don’t forget to show some love to your teachers to extend the Valentine season, even when the classroom parties are past! Check out “34 Teacher Appreciation Ideas They’ll Love” for innovative ways to tell your teachers you are thankful for them during winter months, especially.

Photo at the top: The Temple Church United4Hope partnership received the 2017 Mayor’s Award for Outstanding PENCIL Partner

Judith Harrison, Coordinator with Temple Church (second from right), and Lillard Elementary School building relationships that impact lives on a daily basis.