Ginny serves as MAM’s Academics Director where she oversees the literacy program and MAM Summer Academy. She was born and raised in Memphis and recalls standing up in front of her church at six years old proclaiming her faith in God. However, at such a young age, there were a lot of concepts she didn’t understand. For example, she specifically remembers hearing about hell and being fearful. This was one of her motivators for getting baptized – she didn’t want to experience the “bad things” in this life or in eternity. As she grew older, she realized that her faith is built on a relationship with the Lord.
She went to Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS, to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. She attended Mississippi State for two years until realizing that Memphis is where she wanted to be. She received her degree from the University of Memphis and began teaching second grade. After the year ended, she found herself searching for another employment opportunity. Her husband Kevin, who worked at MAM, mentioned that MAM was beginning a homework help initiative. He encouraged her to teach part-time at MAM while seeking full-time employment elsewhere.
Ginny accepted a part-time teaching role at MAM Olivet in 2012. She anticipated a short career at MAM but eventually learned the Lord had other plans for her. While teaching (and still searching for a full-time position), she temporarily filled in as Academics Coordinator, a full-time position where she assisted in hiring teachers and overseeing the program. Months later, she was offered the position permanently; however, she still wanted to teach in a school classroom. The Lord made it very clear that Ginny should accept the position with MAM when He closed doors at three different schools.
Now, as Academics Director, Ginny spends her time hiring, managing, and training part-time teachers at MAM. She also oversees the literacy program. The literacy program was implemented four years ago when test scores showed that only a third of third graders were reading at their appropriate grade level. MAM partnered with Literacy Mid-South to create an interactive literacy program. The program begins with reading assessments which tests students on accuracy and comprehension. From the results of the assessments, teachers group students based on their reading level, not their grade or age. This is crucial because a student will not be able to grow his or her skills if he or she cannot read the material. Furthermore, the student will lack confidence and not enjoy reading. The program involves “read-alouds,” where a teacher will read a story out loud to the group and engage students by asking questions, reviewing vocabulary, and playing reading games. Students also read in small groups together. Ginny also plans and manages MAM Summer Academy, a two month summer program aimed to prevent summer slide. Summer slide is the term used to describe when a student loses educational skills over the two-three month summer break. MAM Summer Academy is an all day, action-packed program. Students participate in academic rotations, learning math, science, reading, art, P.E., and Bible all while having a blast!
Ginny’s favorite part about working at MAM is being involved in the mission of coaching, growing, and leading the youth of Memphis by helping them discover their identity in Christ and their purpose in the community. It’s truly rewarding to be involved in impacting the youth of Memphis! She also enjoys the opportunity to grow and develop teachers and give them a heart for education and literacy.
Reminiscing over the past seven years at MAM, Ginny recalls many memories! She specifically remembers a young girl in her classroom at MAM Olivet who would give her a hard time. This young girl reminded Ginny that although her goal was to share the Gospel and teach students, she couldn’t forget the importance of building relationships. Unfortunately, a lot of students at MAM have experienced significant hurt in their lives, and Ginny stresses the importance of recognizing those hurts and walking alongside students. She also remembers the transition from MAM’s homework help initiative to the structured literacy program. It was a tough transition! Initially, both students and teachers were completely exhausted. Students were at school all day and didn’t want to come to the gym and read for 45 extra minutes. However, when staff were excited and began to engage students, the students’ excitement went through the roof! One of Ginny’s favorite things is witnessing the growth that can occur as a result of one semester in the literacy program.
Working at MAM has allowed Ginny’s relationship with the Lord to grow tremendously. She is challenged everyday to model Jesus Christ for the 650 kids MAM serves and staff she serves alongside.