Making a Difference at Promise Academy

Jessica Ramey '16

Five days a week, Rhodes senior Jessica Ramey heads over to Promise Academy, an elementary charter school in Memphis’ Hollywood neighborhood, to assist first-grade students with their daily lessons.

“My main responsibilities are keeping the class in line and facilitating small groups, but I feel like a co-teacher because I come every day,” she says. To work around her class schedule, Ramey goes to Promise Academy in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while Tuesday and Thursday she works in the afternoon. While there, she leads reading and math groups and facilitates the class when the regular teacher has to step out of the room.

As a participant in the Community Service Student Employment program (CSSE), Ramey is paid by Rhodes to work off-campus at Memphis schools. Not only has Ramey found the program fulfilling through its real-world experience, but she also feels she is a part of a community beyond Rhodes.

For Ramey, CSSE has provided a way to go beyond Rhodes’ campus and become an active member in a close-knit Memphis neighborhood. “When they share their stories, I just feel like I know them,” she says. “I feel like I’m building a relationship with people who have been here for generations and generations. Going to parent-teacher conferences and being with the Hollywood community itself, I feel like I am more involved in Memphis.”

The CSSE program falls under the umbrella of the Bonner Center for Faith and Service, allowing eligible students the opportunity to work at Memphis schools for their first year of the program and move on to other Memphis nonprofits in subsequent years.

For those interested in the CSSE Student Employment Program, contact coordinators Shannon Hoffman ( or Jocelyn Labombarde (

By Kelsey Young ’16