“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

In August 2011 I shared with Pastor Claval Hunter my idea to develop an after school program at our church to help students become proficient readers and excel academically. He instructed me to put a plan on paper and go for it. A year later, the program began registering students in grades K-6.

As the program developed we named it ASPIRE (Always Seeking, Persevering, Inspiring, Reclaiming and Educating). During the school year the program offers students help with homework, fun physical activities, reading, journaling and good, healthy snacks. Students learn about God, participate in prayer and read daily devotionals.

Our mission is to engage students in an enriching after school program that will help them reach their highest potential and become well-rounded, productive citizens in our society. Our ultimate goal is to bring young children and their families to Christ. Many of our participants are not members of any church. Only God knows what will be born out of this program—maybe an Adventist school in southeast Missouri?


Author Audrey Johnson, a social worker, is ASPIRE program director.