Published on July 7, 2023 by Kameron Brown  
young readers with Dean McEwan

At the conclusion of the Spring semester, faculty and staff from across Orlean Beeson School of Education’s three academic programs joined together for a day of service in Bessemer City Schools.

Because Samford has undergraduates completing teacher education internships in Bessemer and currently enrolls a cohort of Bessemer teachers who are completing graduate work, the faculty and staff were excited to partner with Better Basics in serving Bessemer’s Jonesboro Elementary School.

Better Basics is a local nonprofit that focuses on advancing reading and math literacy and educational equity in central Alabama schools. Their Community Reads program provides books and literacy outreach services directly to vulnerable communities in central Alabama.

“It is a priority of Samford University to invest in the world around us, to make it a better place,” said Anna McEwan, dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education. “Our work as educators is not confined to campus, but extends to local communities and beyond as we live out what it means to be a ‘good neighbor.’”

Kara Chism, assistant professor of educational leadership, was instrumental in the organization of this service project that involved reading to children, distributing new books, and providing Jonesville teachers a few minutes to relax at the end of a long school year.

“One of the reasons why we decided to do this is because of the School of Education’s focus on character education. We've learned a lot about how we must be role models. In order to teach college students about the importance of strong character and ethical behavior in the classroom, you must first demonstrate strong character. This project was a chance to put our words into action,” said Chism.  

Orlean Beeson School of Education prioritizes equipping its students with the knowledge, skills and habits of heart and mind needed to create communities of character in their schools and classrooms. Throughout the academic year, faculty members and students host and participate in numerous projects, events and book studies designed to build a school culture based on core values and professional commitments.

“It's important for our schools to know that people care and that Samford’s School of Education cares. We care about the teachers in our schools, we care about the students, and we care about the community as a whole,” said Chism, “I hope that we're able to do something like this again, and who knows, it might be a jumping off point for us to do something even bigger in the community.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.