A grant from the Polk County Community Foundation helped bring a much-needed extra set of hands to Polk Central Elementary during the 2016-17 school year.

Donna Brice of AmeriCorps Project Mars spent the school year working with students and faculty at Polk Central, helping out in a number of ways around campus.

Brice helped support mentoring, academic instruction and aided with providing resources for student success. She assisted in the EC classroom with literacy and math skills and also joined with school staff to support and expand programs for peer mentoring. One of her peer initiatives included assistance in organizing the Lunch Buddies program in which students from different grade levels met together weekly to work on social skills.

Additionally, Brice aided in the implementation of the Reading Buddies program, which had students in fourth and fifth grade working with kindergarten and first grade classrooms to encourage and support younger readers. Brice also served in the After School program, where she provided tutoring to kindergarten students and helped them with homework assignments.

During the year, 89 Polk Central students received direct assistance from Brice.

AmeriCorps Project Mars also works to recruit and support adult volunteers who are interested in helping in different aspects within the school. Some of these opportunities include working directly with teachers and students within their classrooms. Additionally, they also include aiding those who assist after school children, volunteering at PTO events and working with children during many special days of learning throughout the year.

Volunteers contributed more than 1,500 hours of service to Polk Central Elementary during the school year.