And for nearly the past two years, administrators and teachers at the school say Jim McCollough and several members of his church, Woodlawn United Methodist, have gone above and beyond in helping the school with everything from mentoring students to providing day care for some events.
"Just awesome," is how school social worker Jean Brown refers to the Rev. McCollough. "Pastor Jim makes it a point to know the kids by first name."
The school/community partnership was started nearly two years ago when the Rev. McCollough decided he and his church could offer their time in volunteering for the Augusta school, which is less than a mile from the church. He said he approached Richmond County school system officials with the idea and gained their approval and that of the school principal, Kathryn Perrin.
"It was just a great fit because we have all these folks who were retired teachers, retired professionals ... we had retired accountants and we had those who were retired that were doctors or were financial analysts or salesmen," he said.
Since the idea began, the Rev. McCollough has been assisting as a mentor in a Monte Sano class every Thursday, and he said there are about 10 to 12 other volunteers from his church who help at the school each week, assisting not only as mentors but also with duties such as making copies for the main office.
The Rev. McCollough, who moved to the area in January 2008 from Royston, Ga., said the idea was to give something back to his community, adding that it was easy, citing Monte Sano's great staff and group of students and parents.
"These relationships formed, and something really neat happened," he said. "I feel like we're the ones that have benefitted from this relationship. We love it there."
Mrs. Brown offered a story of how the school recently held a six-week parenting group course, noting that the Rev. McCollough and members of his church and family helped provide day care for the parents during that six-week time frame and even brought refreshments.
Mrs. Brown said a goal of Monte Sano's is to increase parental and community involvement with the school, "and Pastor Jim is our biggest advocate for that."
Recently, Woodlawn Methodist held a fall carnival and invited all Monte Sano staff, students and parents.
The Rev. McCollough said he's also helping organize another event for Monte Sano that will occur in the spring. He said it will involve the Augusta State University tennis team and their head coach meeting with Monte Sano students and others at Newman Tennis Center to provide tennis lessons.
The Rev. McCollough says those at Monte Sano have been his blessing.
"They don't realize that that blessing ... it's actually back the other way," he said. "It's just amazing that change and that difference that you make ends up being you."
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FAMILY: wife, Amy; daughters Jamy, Ali, Jean-Ann and Amanda
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Pastor of Woodlawn United Methodist Church; has headed a community volunteer partnership with Monte Sano Elementary School since moving to the area nearly two years ago
QUOTE: "We love our community, and we want those children (at Monte Sano) to become wonderful loving citizens that can also find that place where they can share their gift."