Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015

Grove Elementary School wanted to find a way to get Title I parents more involved in their child’s education. Assistant Principal Drew Adams came up with the idea of a traveling community center that brings essential resources to the communities in which his students live.

Called Grove on the M.O.V.E., which stands for Mobile Outreach and Volunteers for Education, Grove staff members bring food and fellowship to families in their own neighborhoods. The school provides a social worker, a translator for Spanish-speaking parents, and others who can connect parents to resources.

“Once the word got out about what we were doing, a lot of community partners were very interested in joining us,” said Adams. “On any given trip, we have at least four or five community partners that show up.”

Some of the participating agencies are Greenville Tech, United Way, SC Works and Greenville Works, the Phoenix Center, Greenville Federal Credit Union, and the Furman Community Conservation Corps. Every agency has specific information that will help families improve their quality of life and develop a better relationship with the school.

“We come into the neighborhood and offer free food and drinks,” said Tommy Loftis, a social worker at Grove. “Sometimes it’s hard to get parents into the school. This way, they see us as real people who just want to help. They’re more relaxed around us.”

Hannah Mahaffey with Greenville Federal Credit Union hands out brochures about how to create a basic budget and a guide to money that helps them understand financial concepts.

Vaneasha Danzy, a representative for children’s advocacy with Greenville Hospital System, wants to inform parents who have middle school students about the OnTrack initiative and school-based health centers. “We also make referrals to health care agencies if they need vision screening, medical providers, or help with Medicaid,” she said.

In its second year, Adams said the payoff is big. “Parents have told me they are now working because of WorkKeys. When I call them about their child, I now have a relationship with them,” he said. “Seeing us in their neighborhood carries a lot of weight with both parents and students.”

Grove Elementary plans to conduct two more community outreach initiatives in the spring.

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