Education Edge » Through Jumpstart, UM Students Impact Education in North Mississippi


Through Jumpstart, UM Students Impact Education in North Mississippi

by UM School of Education on March 20, 2018

A UM Jumpstart volunteer interacts with a pre-K student.

Twenty-four students from the University of Mississippi are changing the lives of young children in north Mississippi through teaching, thanks to a program called Jumpstart.

Jumpstart is a national organization that trains college students to prepare young children to succeed in kindergarten by helping develop reading and writing skills in a pre-K setting. The Mississippi chapter of the program is coordinated by staff within UM’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction. UM students are currently working in six different classrooms in Oxford, Okolona, Water Valley and Quitman County.

“It’s such a celebratory moment when (children) write their name for the first time without any help,” said Rorie Bolton, a current elementary education student from Oxford who teaches in Okolona. “They run around the room showing all the Jumpstart members and their teachers. Honestly I can’t say who is the most proud, the child, me, or their teachers.”

Jumpstart reports that 61 percent of kindergarten students from low-income backgrounds are educationally behind compared to students from wealthy families. The program prepares college students to volunteer their time for 10 hours a week by reading with children in a classroom environment. Each student undergoes a training process that is overseen by UM staff members before entering the classroom.

The impact of Jumpstart in north Mississippi can be seen in reducing the teacher-to-student ratio to three-to-one, according to Olivia Morgan, the Mississippi Jumpstart program manager.

“The three-to-one ratio is the most impactful component of Jumpstart because the members are able to give the kids way more individualized attention,” Morgan said. “With the three-to-one ratio, we can tailor to what each individual student needs.”

This reduction in teacher-to-student ratio also allows children to engage in activities that would be hard for one teacher to handle on his or her own, such as painting and drawing.

“When the Jumpstart teams come into the classroom with a handful of members, we allow the children to talk with us and practice their language skills,” said Kim Diebold, a current communication sciences and disorders student from Des Plaines, Illinois. “We are able to provide them with individual attention twice a week that they might not receive otherwise if we did not come to their classroom.”

The 24 UM students have experienced positive impact in their own lives, too.

“I am so proud and impressed by these students who give up 10 hours of their week to spend with 2- and 3-year-olds,” Morgan said. “They are helping change the trajectory of their lives and there’s not a better time to do that than in their early childhood years.”

For more information on Jumpstart and how to join, contact Olivia Morgan at

The current class of UM students includes:

Kyra Addison, B.A. in Psycology

Allison Anderson, B.A.Ed. in Elementary Education

Rorie Bolton, B.A. Ed. in Elementary Education

Lucy Bradshaw, B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders

Sheranidan Burton, B.A. in Accountancy

Sara Butts, B.A. in Accountancy

Kenadi Campbell, B.A. in Political Science

Randy Cooper, B.A. in General Business

Kim Diebold, B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders

Gabriel Fairley, B.S. in Exercise Science

Tulexus Hardy, B. S. in Nursing

Terrius Harris, B.B.A. in General Business

Ryan Lackey, B.A. in Accountancy

Katie Lagnese, B.A. in English

Sade Michaud, B.B.A. in General Business

Ella Moore, B.A. Ed. in English Education

Grace Paddock, B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders

Madison Renda, B.A. in Psychology

Janeisha Simpson, B.A. in Psychology

Shamaria Singleton, Undeclared

Maggie Weber, B.A. in Psychology

Kiara Williams, B.B.A. in Marketing

Mary Wimsett, B.S. in Biology

Caitlyn Yochum, B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders

By Steven Irby