SRVS/Tipton County Enhanced Learning Center

Tipton Story

Discovering Our Community

SRVS officially began operation of its first satellite location in Covington, Tennessee on September 16, 2013, called SRVS/Tipton County Enhanced Learning Center. The opening is part of SRVS’ strategic plan to bring its day services to more people in wider geographic areas.

SRVS Learning Center is a core program at the agency based on a Montessori teaching curriculum that offers weekday programs to adults focusing on social, academic and self-care skills and pre-vocational training. Many of the persons supported at the Tipton County learning center transitioned into the program as former residents of a development center. 

“The persons supported at the Tipton County learning center have grown to become a nuclear family working together as a team to discover their classroom environment, community and untapped potential,” said manager Ginny Oceguera. The Montessori curriculum has contributed to this discovery process by advancing their self-awareness, independence and knowledge base to such an extent that they desire to integrate into the community to learn more and interact with their peers.

Oceguera has been instrumental in providing the community support and partnerships necessary to feed into the group’s sense of exploration. One of the major projects selected during the fiscal year was the creation of an organic vegetable garden, an idea that came about from person supported Sally. The group sought the help of Tim Ammons, sponsor of their first field trip to his farm Oleo Acres, who donated the plants and seeds. Mayor Alan Sterbinsky and the Town of Stanton sponsored the garden.

Everyone decided to grow sweet corn, peas, sweet potatoes, squash, okra, pumpkins, peppers, egg plant, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. During the entire process, Ammons held classes on how to cultivate the crops and make healthy choices for their meals. 

“To see the individuals work the soil and plant is inspiring,” said Ammons. “Once I started being a part of their lives, I just fell in love.” Ammons remembers that some things were picked early but that was all a part of learning. His best memory was driving up to the learning center and seeing Sally come from the garden with her arms filled with vegetables and the biggest smile on her face. The group was able to take home their harvest to cook and eat except for 150 lbs. of sweet potatoes which they gave as a gift to the First United Methodist Go Class for its support. 

Once the garden got underway, two Rhode Island Red chickens were given to the center by a family member. The group did not hesitate in wanting to build a chicken coop, which they built with help from Mr. Bill Franklin, Sam’s father. First United Methodist Church donated the chicken coop and Franklin also assisted in harvesting the garden. Oceguera made sure the persons supported at the center were given the responsibility to care for the chickens and maintain the coop. The eggs are being used in cooking activities or sent home. “Babette and Marcie enjoy going outside to see how many eggs have been laid. They are overcoming some of their trepidations such as knowing how to handle a chicken,” said Oceguera.

“The whole group has bonded and the center is providing activities that are both fun and educational,” said Franklin. “I know Sam always looks forward to choosing his next project.”