Knoxville TN’s Approach

It’s no secret that Knoxville can achieve its full potential by aligning resources to improve education, promote healthy living and develop safe communities.  The creation of community schools supports this alignment strategy by improving student performance, creating healthy families, and building strong neighborhoods.

To initiate the Community Schools program in Knox County, Great Schools Partnership (GSP) has secured the commitment of key stakeholders.  To achieve success, GSP must produce measurable results in the following areas:

Improve Student Wellbeing (Scholastic, Physical, Mental, Social)

Stakeholders Include:

•             Students/Families

•             Local Leaders

•             Healthcare Providers

•             Community Service Organizations

•             Knox County Schools

•             Public and Private Donors

•             City, County and Federal Government

Create Healthy Families (Physical, Mental, Social)

Stakeholders Include:

•             Families

•             Local Leaders

•             Knox County Health Dept.

•             Healthcare Providers

•             Community Service Organizations

•             Public and Private Donors

•             City, County and Federal Government

Build Strong Neighborhoods (Reduce Crime/Blight and Promote Walkability and Organizational Activities)

Stakeholders Include:

•             Community Members

•             Local Leaders

•             Police Dept.

•             Knox County Health Dept.

•             Community Service Organizations

•             Neighborhood Services Dept.

•             Public and Private Donors

•             City, County and Federal Government

Community schools are built through partnerships between schools and a variety of community resources. Such partnerships, and the activities and services they provide, establish schools as vital hubs that benefit students, their families, and the surrounding community. Research also indicates that these benefits include improved student learning, health, and attendance; stronger family engagement; an improved school climate; and safer neighborhoods. Among the basic elements of community schools as the solution are:

  • Education
    A community school offers a revolutionary vision of the roles parents and community can play in education and of the role a school can play in its community. Among an initiative’s primary goals are the education of children and their healthy development. Students are more free to learn because the school’s many services and supports work together to remove bstacles to their education, and teachers can better focus on the curriculum because their students are healthier, have improved attendance, and fewer social or emotional problems that could interfere with the classroom’s focus. The core academic curriculum is rigorous, coherent and integrated with extended learning and enrichment opportunities so that children have many hours allotted for education and many ways in which to learn.
  • School, Family, and Community Engagement
    Community school partners—school staff and administrators, agency staff, parents and members of the community—are united in a common goal: to maximize students’ learning while optimizing their health and well-being, and strengthening their families and neighborhoods. All partners understand that the involvement of parents is a critical foundation for children’s achievement. Programs to attract parents, establish a welcoming climate for them, and help them learn how to be involved in, and supportive of, their children’s education are fundamental to the community school concept. Adult education courses further engage parents (and community members) in their own learning. Likewise, members of the community—residents, business owners, elected officials, service providers, community-based organizations—are part of the planning for the initiative, are kept informed about the school, and contribute expertise and resources where needed.
  • Extended Hours and Expanded Learning Opportunities
    Before and after-school, weekend, summer and holiday programming expand children’s learning opportunities while coordinating with the students’ school-day curricula to create a coherent educational experience. Students use these hours to explore subjects not covered during the day or to gain new skills. The out-of-school climate may be less formal, but should be of quality, instructional, and allow children to apply what they have learned in class, perhaps through hands-on projects, academic competitions or art projects. Teachers ought to play a critical role in designing these programs and community school staff should often observe classes so they can track the needs of particular students and tailor their activities accordingly.
  • Wellness
    Community schools are designed to operate as networks that address the multiple emotional, social and health needs of children and their families along a wellness continuum. In the school as community center model, for example, health and social services are school-based or school-linked and fully integrated into the life of the school; mental health or social problems are not treated separately from health problems. Instead, the school partners look at a student and family holistically and work together to develop solutions. The emphasis on wellness promotes a healthier, more positive school climate as well as improved student health. (National Center for Community Schools 2012).
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