The Adopt-a-Class TN program was established by Karen Hamerslag in 2017 as an opportunity for Tellico Village residents to volunteer in local elementary schools. As new residents of this retirement community for active adults, she and her husband were interested in community service, and were accepted as volunteers at Loudon Elementary School.
This work was very rewarding, and gave birth to Adopt-a-Class. The program plan was approved, and the first class of 14 volunteers began in the spring of 2017. The following year, and first full school year, 40 Villagers enrolled.
The program was such a success at Loudon Elementary School that in 2018 it was expanded to include Steekee Elementary School. In the 2019-2020 school year membership was well over 75 volunteers, the majority serving as classroom volunteers. In the spring of 2020, Vonore Elementary School became the third school to be supported with classroom volunteers and donated supplies.
When the Classroom Volunteer Program was temporarily suspended during the pandemic, the Volunteer-at-Home Program was necessitated. This work was much appreciated, and the program has subsequently continued and grown.
Behind the scenes work has given Adopt-a-Class more opportunities. The attainment of 501(c)(3) status, grant procurements, website development, Facebook usage, and charity networking have given Adopt-a-Class community recognition. Successful fundraisers, including the unique student designed greeting cards and bake sales, have increased program capabilities.
The Literacy Program was initiated in 2021 with subscriptions to Highlights Magazine to all second graders. Since then, the program has grown to include Highlights Magazines for all third graders, Scholastic’s Storyworks Magazine for fourth graders, and Scholastic’s Super STEM Magazine for fifth graders. The Family Engagement Program, which provides resource for home learning, began in 2022 and the Mathematics and STEM Support Program launched in 2023.
Most Adopt-a-Class members participate in one or more of our many programs. By 2023, membership grew to 140 wonderful volunteers.
In the summer of 2019, Adopt-a-Class TN successfully applied to the IRS for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and registered in Tennessee. This makes donations to the group tax deductible, allows exemption from TN state sales tax, and confers eligibility for grant applications to other organizations.
In October 2021, the Adopt-a-Class TN by-laws were revised to include a Board of Directors. This group provides guidance in program management and financial activities. Each director has experience with one or more Adopt-a-Class programs and a beneficial personal background.