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THINK Together Discovery Center Signing Up Mississippi College Student Volunteers

MC seniors Khalia Terry and Taylor Haymore sign up volunteers for tutoring center in Clinton.
MC seniors Khalia Terry and Taylor Haymore sign up volunteers for tutoring center in Clinton.

In late September, 23 children from Clinton public schools are enrolled at the center based at the Hunter Oaks Apartments. About a half-dozen Mississippi College student volunteers assist as tutors and more are signing up.

“What I love most about the Discovery Center has to be the kids,” says MC senior Taylor Haymore. “They all come in with smiles on their faces ready to tell me about their day. The kids are all so funny and help keep a smile on my face.”

Haymore, 21, serves as student director of the THINK Together Discovery Center. Taylor recently joined MC senior Khalia Terry of Jackson at the Clinton campus cafeteria to encourage classmates to join them.

Beginning his 11th year as the center’s director, Ernest Larry finds the job never gets old. Last year, the center served 35 children at the Hunter Oaks and Shadow Brook apartments off U.S. 80 in Clinton.

Larry witnessed success stories over the years. One of the center’s former students graduated from Clinton High and enrolled at Meridian Community College. Now she’s working in the healthcare field in Alabama.

Volunteer tutors arrive to help the kids when the center opens at 3 p.m. It closes at 6 p.m. on weekdays. MC students “don’t need to come every day. It’s just whenever they have time. It could be 30 minutes or however long they have,” Larry said.

Volunteering at the center would be a nice fit for MC School of Education students before embarking on their careers, he believes.

California businessman and Sam Anderson, owner of the apartment complexes, launched the tutoring center in 2006. He was delighted to see the center operate near his alma mater, Mississippi College. He noted the effectiveness for similar programs serving 100,000 children at 400 California locations.

It’s early in the 2018-19 academic year, but Haymore sees progress. “I love how eager the kids are to learn new things,” she said. “They have no problem asking for help when they need it. They all want to learn and continue to get good grades.”

This Fall, Clinton kids enrolled at the tutoring center range from third graders through Clinton High juniors.

A political science and paralegal studies major, Haymore stays focused on her mission off campus. The Copiah Academy graduate seeks to find additional volunteers with a heart for children.

One person that can’t be replaced at the tutoring center is Rhoda Royce. She served as a faithful volunteer there for more than a decade. President Emeritus Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, retired in late June after 16 years of service at Mississippi College. The Royces moved to Northern Virginia.

As the Baptist-affiliated university begins its 193rd academic year, Anderson is happy to see MC students volunteering. But the 1957 MC alumnus sees big shoes to fill. He described Rhoda Royce as “the heart and soul of the program.”

From one season to the next, the tutoring center’s goals are to “teach, help, inspire and nurture” kids. Later this year, volunteers and staff will host a Christmas party to bring holiday joy to the Clinton children they serve.

For more information about serving as a volunteer, contact Ernest Larry at 601-832-4375 or