Connecting Covenant & Community
by Lydia Berglar '18
June 9, 2021
in Professional Development
Town & Gown Team: Covenant Students Work With the City of Lookout Mountain
Thanks to the work of a handful of Covenant students, the City of Lookout Mountain is better able to stay in touch with residents through an updated CRM (customer relationship management) program. An increasingly user-friendly website is also in the works. These are just two of the projects Covenant students have worked on with the Lookout Mountain mayor’s office for the benefit of local residents.
History of Town and Gown Programs
Town and gown programs exist in college towns around the world, but Covenant’s program (the TaG Team) is unique because of our biblical understanding of community, service, and relationship.
“Town” refers to the residents of a college town, while “gown” symbolizes academic institutions. Often, these two distinct communities are seen as rivals or merely separate communities who share a space. “These institutions have historically stepped on each other’s toes, if not flat-out ignored each other, in pursuit of separate goals. However, this twosome is unequivocally stronger when working together for the collective.”*
Historically, town and gown programs focused on decreasing the negative effects college students might bring to the area, like loud parties and alcohol abuse, which has established a “tradition of only hearing from one another when something goes wrong.”** Instead, Covenant and other schools are focusing on what students can offer the community and how universities can positively impact the local area, e.g. providing jobs, drawing talent to the town, supporting the local economy, etc.
Establishing the TaG Team
A local alumnus, Kenny Lee ’81, wanted to support Covenant by offering his time. As part of both the Scots community and the Lookout Mountain community, he’s the perfect bridge between the two. He and Dr. John Plating in our Center for Calling & Career brainstormed a way to accomplish several things:
- Provide Covenant students with an employment opportunity
- Give selected students practical experience in the professional world
- Assist the City of Lookout Mountain in completing projects that benefit the town
- Continue building the relationship between Covenant College and our Lookout Mountain neighbors
This birthed Covenant’s version of a town and gown program - the TaG Team.
Experience for Students
This paid opportunity gives students practical experience in the professional world. While updating the city’s CRM system this year, business major Andrew Hampson ’22 practiced his communications skills, and computer science major Jonathan George ’21 put his technical skills to use. “The TaG Team gains practical experience through boots on the ground work, all while serving as ambassadors for the college,” says Dr. Plating.
Lee and Plating are working to identify organizations who have a need that Covenant students can meet. In future years, the TaG Team will have opportunities for more students in a wider variety of organizations.
Benefitting the Local Community
As a natural product of our redemptive mindset, most Covenant Scots love being involved in local communities. We know that Christ is making all things new, and we know that we get to play a part in that redemptive work through our jobs and careers. The TaG program is one way that students provide practical assistance to our local community.
Check out this music video born from the TaG Team. Featuring a song from alumnus Chapman Whitted ’18, it celebrates all things Lookout Mountain and fosters a sense of pride in local residents.