The success of a school is rooted in commitment. Commitment from the student to engage in instruction, commitment from the teacher to provide strong direction, commitment from the parents to make education a priority at home, and commitment from the community to provide extra support that’s needed within the school. 

Last fall, Ben Washington Baptist Church made this commitment to J. O. Davis Elementary. As a church with a long-standing history of serving its community, they naturally were the perfect partner for the elementary school just down the street. Along with proximity, the school’s namesake – Josie Ophelia Davis – was one of the founders of the Ben Washington Baptist Church. 

The church’s pastor, Darrell Sneed, is keeping the church’s legacy alive. As a former teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent and school board member, Pastor Sneed’s dedication to education runs deep. His enthusiasm, coupled with the excitement and generosity of his congregation, is exactly what Davis Elementary needs. 

Principal Angela Long of Davis Elementary believes organizations, like Ben Washington Baptist Church, are so critical to support the work of the school.  

“It is really reassuring to know that we have people in our community who support us and support our goals,” Long says. “They are here for us whenever we need them whether financially, in-kind donations or volunteering.”

Even as they have navigated the pandemic, both church and school have continued nurturing their relationship. Ben Washington has welcomed Davis families to their church through monthly food drives, participated in Black History Month activities and provided monetary donations to the school. 

When students resume a normal in-person school schedule, the church is anxious to get in the school building and work as mentors for students and tutors for struggling readers, in addition to the work they are already doing. They see these opportunities as part of their responsibility to connect with the school community.  

“If we want to see change in our society, we have to be the catalyst for change. And if it is to be, it’s up to me,” says Pastor Sneed. “So I encourage organizations and people of interest who support our young people and support education to find the time and make the commitment to get involved.” 

Individuals and/or organizations who feel the same calling and want to partner with a school can visit the Partners in Education website at There are so many ways to make a difference in our students’ lives.