By Chanda Temple
Birmingham City Schools
“We will adopt Oxmoor Valley for the next school year. We have already ordered backpacks and supplies for the 2017-2018 school year,’’ said Charlotte Conaway, community development leader for TekLinks. “We plan to return to do another landscaping project. We will continue to tutor students. We are also planning a health fair at the school in the fall with Children’s Hospital.’’
In August 2016, TekLinks adopted the school, committing to various projects: landscaped the school grounds three times this school year; donated 250 backpacks and back-to-school supplies for students and teachers; donated turkeys to families in November; and gave every student a grade-appropriate book for Christmas. Every week, employees visit the school to tutor students in math, reading and technology.
“Jim Akerhielm, the CEO of TekLinks, wanted to make a difference in the life of a child by helping them with their reading and math,’’ Conaway said. “And by adopting Oxmoor Valley, we have built a model for other corporations to follow on how to adopt a school.’’
In 2016, TekLinks was looking for a way to give back and make a difference in the community. After surveying their surroundings, they learned that Birmingham’s Oxmoor Valley Elementary School was just a few miles away from them. They contacted the principal to see if they could help students with reading, math or technology.
After one conversation with Principal Melvin Love and his leadership team, the company knew the school would be a perfect fit.
Last week, TekLinks sponsored “Jaguar Day’’ to promote school pride. (The jaguar is the school mascot.) The event was held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the school’s track and field area. TekLinks employees donated two bicycles to the school’s Pre-K program at 9 a.m.
“We got involved with Oxmoor Valley after hearing about the low percentage of children reading at grade level. We felt like we could make an impact,’’ said Conaway. “This spring, the school rolled off of the state’s failing schools’ list. Although the school coming off the failing schools’ was based on student test scores from spring 2016, we felt like we could play a role at Oxmoor Valley and help to keep the momentum going.’’
The impact TekLinks has made at Oxmoor Valley has been felt by students, teachers and even principals at other schools.
“Dr. Terrell Brown, the principal at Minor Elementary, heard about us and asked if we would come and help him,’’ Conaway said. “I went and met with Dr. Brown and his leadership team. I told him I would help him with volunteers.’’
“I formed a small group through Church of the Highlands, and called it ‘Volunteers for Reading and Math for Birmingham City Schools.’ Within two weeks, I had 20 volunteers,’’ Conaway said.
“This just shows what can happen if one person or one company steps up to adopt a school,’’ Conaway said. “Our goal is to get other corporations in Birmingham to adopt a school. Our goal is to have all elementary schools adopted in 10 years.’’
Oxmoor Valley Principal Love said he’s excited about TekLinks’ involvement at the school. “They have worked hard to make sure that our students are not only successful inside of the classroom but outside of the classroom, as well,’’ Love said.
To volunteer, email Conaway at email@example.com.