MACON – United Way of Central Georgia and Leadership Macon held a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 20 for a new multipurpose outdoor facility at Ingram-Pye Elementary School, supported by grants and donations from a number of organizations, including Perdue Farms, Macon/Bibb Consolidated Government, Macon Roots and GE Capital.
Mercer University's Tift College of Education also has a hand in the project, which will bring a playground, ball field and community garden to the empty plot of land behind the school where students participate in recess each day.
Tift College and the Bibb County School District began a professional development school (PDS) partnership with Ingram-Pye during the 2013-2014 academic year in order to support professional and student learning through the use of an inquiry-based approach to teaching. That partnership continues this school year, as seniors in the Holistic Child Program participate in yearlong clinical placements at Ingram-Pye that will make candidates eligible for Georgia certification in early childhood/special education in the general curriculum.
The goals of the partnership are fourfold: preparation of new teachers, faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice, and enhanced student achievement. Tift's PDS model is based on the College's conceptual framework of curriculum, teaching and learning, and dispositions.
“Tift College faculty and students have worked with school personnel to purposefully create opportunities that enable us to become part of the Ingram-Pye school community, such as coordinating the early efforts in the planning of the playground and outdoor learning space,” said Dr. Kelly Reffitt, associate professor of education and chair of teacher education in Macon, Eastman and Savannah.
Students have also organized several fundraisers to add a piece of equipment to the new playground.
“It is important for Tift College to be involved in this project because, as a member of this community, we are committed to positively impacting the growth and development of the Ingram-Pye children,” added Dr. Reffitt.
In addition to their contributions to the new multipurpose outdoor facility, Tift College facilitated a book drive so that each student at Ingram-Pye received two books last Christmas, and will continue that initiative this year. Students and faculty have also partnered with the Mercer Police Department to introduce an anti-bullying program, and faculty will be conducting professional development for current teachers.