Pine Belt church promotes student literacy

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A local church continues an after-school program to assist elementary students in Hattiesburg.

An AmeriCorps Program called America Reads-Mississippi joined Ekklesia church through a matching community grant to create "Neighbors @ Hawkins Elementary."

The program provides in-school and after-school programs that allow full-time tutors for students who may need the extra help to reach the next level.

Sharon Miles, Ekklesia church community and creative arts director, said, "If they can take ownership of their potential then we have succeeded. Whether we can help them achieve by expressing themselves in the arts or achieve reading, math or whatever we're helping them with, I feel like our job is done."

Hattiesburg Public Schools Superintendent James Bacchus said, “That partnership is something that needs to be replicated across the country. You talk about money matters, the right money with the right partnership really matters and really made a difference in that school in the last three or four years."

This year the program has focused more on the third grade classes and improving reading skills.]