The Montgomery Plan (MP), the club synonymous with community service at Burroughs since 1974, has a new leader.
Rachael Barnes will sponsor the club that has students cleaning up the Mississippi riverfront, gardening with elderly St. Louisans, buddying with disabled athletes, organizing food drives and more. As the club’s third sponsor — Kathi Danna and Susan Dee were her predecessors — Barnes will work with co-sponsors Jill Donovan (English), Rick Sandler (English) and Ned Wood (Modern Languages).
A Burroughs math teacher since 1997, Barnes says she was looking for a way to connect with students outside the classroom, and sponsorship of MP provided the perfect opportunity. “I wanted some balance where I could get to know the kids in a different way, and I loved the idea of doing it through service,” she says.
Impressed with what Dee and Danna had done over the years and with what students bring to MP, Barnes promises, “A lot will stay the same. We will continue to do many of the same activities that are already in place, that provide a mix of opportunities and that appeal to a range of students. Two or three will give students the opportunity to get their hands dirty and make an immediate impact on outdoor spaces; several will be more relational, sharing experiences with the elderly or with citizens with developmental challenges; and others — such as the Holiday Food Drive, the Danna Drive and Empty Bowls — will give students experience in organizing an activity in which the entire Burroughs community works together to make a substantial contribution of time and resources to a chosen agency or cause.”
But Barnes and her team also have some ideas of their own, and a few have already been put in place. They include:
- Making a push to get more seventh and eighth graders involved
- Launching a new website
- Setting up a database to facilitate keeping records of volunteer hours, agency contacts, permission slips and sign-up forms
- Posting a school-wide community service calendar to keep students apprised of activities offered through the Montgomery Plan and other clubs.
Barnes and her team also plan to establish the Montgomery Plan as a platform where other clubs may seek support for their service-oriented activities and to consider updating the guidelines for eligibility for community service transcript recognition.
On Saturday, September 12, Rachael Barnes and co-sponsor Ned Wood (Modern Languages), accompanied ten students to Metropolitan Village Apartments to weed and visit with the elderly residents. Montgomery Plan volunteers have been working the garden two or three times a year since 2010, when the Montgomery Plan Danna Drive collected gardening items for Gateway Greening and also sponsored a work day to help the senior residents install raised planting beds accessible from a wheelchair and ready their garden for spring.