Insights From A Partner

A Testimonial from Burt Batten, Principal of Pleasant Grove Elementary

On behalf of the students, parents, and staff members of Pleasant Grove Elementary, I am eager to express thanks and heartfelt appreciation to the Pleasant Grove Foundation, specifically The Dream Academy and Lunch Buddy Mentors for embracing the Pleasant Grove Elementary School. The Dream Academy and mentoring program has made significant contributions through service to support the work of the school over the past two years. These actions have initiated a real, meaningful, and transformative process within the school.

Over the past two years, the students within the school have benefited directly from The Dream Academy, and a lunch buddy mentoring program for 4th and 5th-grade boys and girls. You see, as a new school, Pleasant Grove Elementary has struggled with establishing its identity with families. The school is close to many amazing things: the airport, Research Triangle Park, amazing commerce, industry, and shopping, just not close to many families’ homes. While that distance presents challenges to families, I take it as an opportunity. The true bond of any strong community relies a lot on imagination, partnership, and shared purpose. And my staff and I have been blessed to work together with Reverend Dr. Preston and The Dream Academy. Their efforts have had a direct impact on dozens of families within the school in ways that shape the attitudes, outlook, and educational experiences of students through The Dream Academy and Lunch Buddy mentoring program.

The initial results of this work emerged in the spring of 2018. When I had an 11-year-old 5th grader asking me when the next mentor group would be, I knew with certainty that positive connections were being made. When I observed students working on projects that came out of these activities with the volunteers from the Pleasant Grove Foundation, I recognized the spark that was being ignited. When students can talk directly about their aspirations and goals with individuals who have succeeded in careers for business, medicine, education, industry, and innovation it enriches them and lights the start of a pathway forward. In a word, the actions of The Dream Academy and the student mentoring program are tremendous.

I truly appreciate the work and impact that has been initiated by the Pleasant Grove Foundation. It involves time and commitment that goes beyond what I see, and it produces visible results, real and tangible to the students who receive them. The willingness of the Foundation and Reverend Dr. Preston to extend this support means a lot to the school. It is inspiring to witness how the collective commitment of people partnering together, as a community, can make a difference.

In my line of work, educators have devoted a lot of effort seeking the right instructional strategies to influence student academic growth. But if a solid relationship isn’t cultivated first, and if a student has essential needs that the school or a teacher are missing, then a great failure has occurred, far greater than any concern about a test score or assignment. Once again, a child who does not feel and experience meaningful connections and relationships with adults stands at greater risks of future academic struggles. Considering this, it has been a blessing to partner with the Pleasant Grove Foundation. We share a common link by name and share a common vision for wanting to make a transformative impact within the community. I am eager to continue any and all partnership opportunities with the Foundation. This work can strengthen students and families and positively influence teachers. Thank you!

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