Closer Look

Iotla’s RISE program seeks to build character

Avatar photo

Henrietta Haithcock

Iotla Elementary School is blazing a new trail. School Resource Officer Eric Duvall and Principal Michelle Bell recently established a group comprised of third and fourth grade boys, called RISE (Reaching Independence through Structured Education), which is a branch of Molding Tomorrow’s Leaders, founded by School Resource Officer Anthony Zari and Principal Diane Cotton at Union School in 2018. RISE seeks to build character, encourage service, and practice essential social skills around the school campus and the community for the student group.

Duvall explained that desired characteristics in participating students include skills in communication and social practices; personal responsibility; pride in oneself; and, establishing goals beyond high school. RISE meets once a month on campus, during non-instructional school time. In addition, the students will learn skills to help with personal struggles, including how to address issues maturely and with respect and integrity.

Iotla Elementary School Resource Officer Eric Duvall is overseeing a program for third and fourth grade boys called RISE.

“Overall, the most important purpose of RISE will be stressed in the teaching of the value of an education … setting personal goals to help students achieve their full potential, their happiness, and community awareness for a lifetime of future successes,” said Duvall.

On campus RISE activities have included cleaning and maintenance around the Iotla campus. Off-campus activities, designed for either community service or relationship-building, have so far included repairs on homes of seniors in Macon County. An important benefit of the program also includes the identification of each student’s accomplishments for future college and job applications.

In order to earn points for RISE rewards or fun days, students follow a set of rules for good behavior, respect, and safety. As a result, RISE participants have opportunities to enjoy fishing, zip-lining, gem mining, and other activities.

Duvall indicated that RISE is currently accepting monetary or snack donations for the program. “Volunteer and mentor time is also welcomed,” he said. Inquiries can be made to Iotla Elementary School by calling (828)524-2938.

Haithcock is a children’s book author. She wrote “The Secret Life of Mr. Brownie” and contributed to the latest edition of the locally published Suminski Family Books’ Animal Stories series. She shares this story as a read-aloud for families this Christmas.