In 2008, more than 11,000 students entered first grade in
Wake County public schools.
These students are set to graduate high school in 2020, and
while that may seem like a long time from now (especially to their parents),
it’s not to Anthony Higgs and his wife Symonetta.
The Higgs want to see every one of these students graduate.
This is an ambitious goal, but they are already working through the
Adopt-a-School Initiative to help make it happen.
After seeing the success of Tony Evans in Texas with the
National Church Adopt-a-School Initiative, the Higgs decided they wanted to
bring Adopt-a-School to North Carolina, specifically Wake County where they
live and attend Faith Baptist Church.
The ministry recruits and trains volunteers from churches
and faith-based community organizations to go into local schools and serve as
mentors and tutors for children at risk of failing or dropping out of school.
As the ministry started making an impact in the schools and
in the lives of students and families, it caught the attention of State
Superintendent June Atkins who asked the Higgs to begin implementing
Adopt-a-School across the entire state.
For the Higgs, Adopt-a-School is an outgrowth of Another
Step Forward Ministries (ASF). They began ASF in 1987 as a way to help minister
to women in the community where Anthony pastored a church plant.
He pastored that church plant for 19 years, and retired in
2006 in order to serve as president of ASF and help “take the ministry to
About a year later the Higgs began Adopt-a-School.
Originally from the Bahamas, the Higgs moved to Florida in 1976 to help start a
church in Delray Beach. They have served in full-time Christian ministry for
more than 30 years.
The Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee of the
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Board of Directors recently
entered into an agreement to support and promote the work of ASF and
North Carolina Baptists are encouraged to consider
supporting Adopt-a-School, whether through prayer, financial support or
Adopt-a-School provides churches and organizations with
training on the dos and don’ts of working in the public school system. After
the training, the church decides which school(s) they want to adopt and then
Adopt-a-School provides the church with a needs assessment from the school.
“We don’t want to go in and say this is what you need to do.
We give them the opportunity to tell us what their needs are,” Anthony said.
The church then decides which needs it wants to help meet.
Mentoring is a crucial component of Adopt-a-School.
The mentoring takes place during the school day on the
school campus. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least one year of spending
at least one hour a week with the student(s) being mentored.
“A lot of the students who are at risk for dropping out of
school really don’t have consistency in their lives,” Symonetta said. “We need
to be consistent; to show them that we are going to be faithful to the mission
and the cause.”
Students often get to know their mentor very well and talk
about issues with the mentor they do not want to talk about with their parents
or teachers. Even so, Adopt-a-School is about allowing mentoring to strengthen
“We really stress in the training that we are not the
parents of these children, and we do not want to take the place of the parents.
We want to come alongside parents and help them out where they cannot meet the
needs in certain areas,” Symonetta said.
Adopt-a-School helps the church “take their community back
for the Lord,” Anthony said.
Communities begin to see that the church cares and is
willing to invest in other people. As mentors and volunteers show Jesus’ love
through the relationships they build with students, parents and teachers, “it
is a powerful thing, and makes an impact in everyone’s life,” Anthony said.
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