On Friday, May 18th, thirty-three staff and faculty members from Minnesota School of Business, Richfield campus, traveled less than 2 miles from our campus to Partnership Academy, a local charter school. Volunteers had a fun-filled day working with Kyla Drammeh’s and Samantha Strom’s Kindergarten classes as well as Allison Pint’s and Melissa Hibbard’s 2nd Grade students. Faculty and staff collaborated with students in those classes on their Service Learning Projects and as well as the opportunity to share lunch together.
“This couldn’t have been a better match. Our Campus Community Service Day was the same day as PA’s Service Learning Day. It was a natural fit,” said Stacy Severson, MSB Campus Director. We assisted students in decorating placements and oven mitts to deliver to Meals on Wheels, planting flowers in flower pots decorated by the children that were to be delivered to a local long term care facility, and also participated in discussions about how students can help in their community and how helping makes them feel.
This project was collaboration between Partnership Academy’s Service Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator, Molly Klane, and Minnesota School of Business Campus Director, Stacy Severson. Klane added, “The kids had so much fun getting to know their adult buddies, and I think it was very meaningful for them to get to engage in authentic service. One second grader followed the buddies out on Friday because she didn’t want them to leave! I hope we’ll be able to partner again in the future.”
For staff and faculty at MSB, this day was about much more than community service. Karen Miller, a six year employee said, “ Spending time with the children at PA was the BEST community service project that I have participated in at MSB-Richfield. I left the Academy knowing that while the kids had fun completing their service projects, I was the one that benefited from the short- time I spent with my buddies.” Miller also added “I thank MSB for giving me the opportunity to give back to the community by showing, by example, that WE CARE.” Brent Blegen, math instructor had a similar experience and even signed up for future volunteer opportunities at Partnership Academy! “It was a great experience. The kids started out all shy, and then when you leave, they are giving you hugs. It’s amazing how quickly you build relationships- and meaningful ones!” “My best volunteer experience ever. The children were charming. I think I learned more than they did” said Bea Dehler, a medical assisting instructor.
The following week, PA students from those same classes, had the opportunity to come to the MSB Richfield campus for Health and Wellness day, part of a Community Service Week. Other activities included “Get Your Career in Gear”, “Information Technology”, and “Financial Fitness” days, spanning a period of four days. Students were able to participate in various activities that centered on Health and Wellness. The 2nd graders had an opportunity to identify healthy and unhealthy snacks. Amy Stadem, Medical Assisting Program Chair, led the group as she and others taught them to make two after-school snacks that they could make at home by themselves. They colored and put together cookbooks filled with healthy snack recipes. Some favorites were the “Ants on a Log” and “Pear Cheese Quesadillas”. Kindergarteners also made some snacks and cookbooks, as well as participated in a fitness class with someone from Lifetime Fitness. One highlight was Campus Director, Stacy Severson reading the story of “Chocolatina”, in which a little girl comes to find that eating nothing but chocolate is not a very healthy way to live life. At the end of the day, the time with students ended with a photo and hugs!
Amy Stadem summed up the sentiments of most of the faculty and staff by saying, “It was nice to have an opportunity to continue to build on the relationship that we started on Friday. The day ended with lots of hugs and high fives. “ Still others were able to see the impact that a brief encounter with the PA students had. “The little girl that I was paired up with on Community Service Day has limited communication skills in English. However, even though I speak Spanish fluently, the smiles that I saw, spoke volumes more than what we could ever say between the two of us in any language. This proves that genuine concern coupled with fun, bring the WE CARE motto to life”, said Ami Scarbrough-Odell, General Education and Service Learning Chair. “I am looking forward to working with Partnership Academy again because of the impact that our combined efforts had on students, faculty, and staff alike”. Stacy Severson, Campus Director, also had a similar heartwarming experience, which says it all. A PA student asked her,“If I come to school, will I see you? “ Stacy responded with “yes”, and the student said, “Good. Then I am coming to college here.” Partnership Academy is a contract alternative school that strives to “provide a world-class education for low income students.” PA serves a diverse student population of over 260 students in grades K- , with over 95% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunches. PA’s mission is to, “empower teachers, students, families, and our broader community as partners in creating an exceptional school.”