In April 2016 Tift College of Education’s student organization, Mercer Educators in Action held it’s second annual “Ingram Pye Day” for the fifth grade students, teachers and administration of Ingram Pye Elementary School. Mercer University just completed its third year of a Professional Development Partnership with Ingram Pye Elementary School. After our first year partnering with Ingram Pye, 2013-2014, the Student Teachers came to realize that many of their students at Ingram Pye had never been to Mercer’s campus. Ingram Pye’s students showed great desire and question of what being at Mercer University is like and continuously asked for their teachers to take them across the street to see the campus. With many Ingram Pye students living at or below the poverty line, Mercer’s students decided that the only way for these children to experience a college campus was for us to bring them to Mercer for a day. Bibb County School District’s mission statement is that “each student demonstrates strength of character and is college or career ready.” However, the majority of the parents at Ingram Pye did not attend college and their children have never seen a college campus before. This combination makes it difficult for a child to feel hopeful that they will be able to defy the odds and attend college. Mercer’s desire for this annual field trip is to instill hope in every student preparing for middle school that college is obtainable. We know that the best way for this goal to begin is for the children to step foot on a college campus in hopes that they will return back to one.
Ingram Pye Day is filled with excitement and activities for all participants. The day begins with the members of Mercer Educators in Action and student athletes in their uniforms outside of Ingram Pye to welcome and walk the fifth grade students to Mercer. Mercer Police blocks of the road and the group makes the half mile walk from Ingram Pye to Mercer University’s football stadium. The students get a tour, pep talks from the coaches and players, and are given time to play on the field with the athletes. The Mercer basketball team also provides the students with tours, entertainment and encouragement. The students break up into their classes and go on a rotation schedule for campus wide scavenger hunts to learn the history and current events of campus, to play field games on Cruz Plaza and engage in educational sessions such as engineering workshops and looking through the Astronomy department’s telescopes. Students, their teachers and administration are also provided lunch during the day. All of the scheduled activities are centered on instilling belief in these students that college is something they can achieve. At the end of the day Mercer’s police, students, and athletes walk everyone back to school for dismissal. After Ingram Pye Day students leave with excitement, smiles, and statements such as, “I can’t wait for college!” and then our mission is accomplished.