My name is Bradford Hall and I am a part-time Student Clerk at Sallye B. Mathis Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. The school is an inner-city school, where over 90 percent of the students are considered "economically disadvantaged."
As a result, the Principal (Gwen Crutchfield) and I sat down to have a conversation about how do we involve the community's children in enrichment programs that will enhance their educational skills and abilities. We wanted to design a camp called "Camp Excellence." However, we realized that we did not have any money and with the state of Florida cutting our educational system's budget, money is scarce.
Our goal is to provide students with academic assistance and Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) preparation. We also want to provide our students with computer training, public speaking training, creative writing training, etc. Most importantly, we will take high school Juniors and Seniors and allow them to serve as Camp Counselors and role models to the students we serve.
The faculty and staff and students have strived hard to reach the level of success in which we have. Just five years ago, Sallye B. Mathis was given an "F" grade by the Florida Department of Education. Now, it amazes me to say, we are a "B" school, reaching for an "A."
As a high school student, I have committed my time to mentoring and tutoring students. My very first assignment at Sallye B. Mathis was to mentor a student who had failed the fifth-grade two times. He barely came to school, his grades were very low. But, because I was able to reach him, he made the choice that he had to do better. That's why he received the Principal's Student of the Year Award and maintained the A/B Honor Roll. The best thing about Sallye B. Mathis is seeing the smiles on the kids' faces once you've done something special for them.
To our students, special is for someone to take 30 minutes out of their busy schedule and come and read to them. Special to our students is to have someone who they can talk to when they're in trouble in school. Just to pat a student on the back for doing their homework makes them feel proud. It makes me feel proud to. This is why I choose to work for and serve Sallye B. Mathis Elementary School.
I want this camp to be annual and I want it to be something that our students will never forget. I know that $500 is only a small portion of what it will take to start this camp. But, it is a start.
At Sallye B. Mathis, we believe in our students today because they are the hope for tomorrow.