Metro Schools To Become Centerpiece of Communities - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Metro Schools To Become Centerpiece of Communities

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by Aundra Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Seventeen Metro schools are pledging to go beyond the classroom to help students become successful. A new program called Community Achieves will help students and families address issues that become barriers to their education.

In a high poverty school district, educators know that you can't just teach a child, without addressing the obstacles they face at home.

"I'm not a gang banger but I was affiliated," said former Glencliff High student Itzel Gonzalez, now a freshman at Nashville State University.

Last year Gonzalez helped write a grant to build an outdoor classroom.

"I was very lost. I didn't know what I was doing or what I wanted from school," she said.

Gonzalez, a student leader during her senior year, told a crowd of educators at Antioch High School Thursday, her time at Glencliff got off to a rough start.

"I just had to go (to school) so I wouldn't stay in court," she said.

At the same time, Glencliff was starting a new program that invited outside agencies into the school to help students address a variety of external factors that ultimately affect their performance.

"The first thing we did was look at teen pregnancy," said Tony Majors, who was the principal at the time.

More than one dozen principals have signed on since, pledging to help address the unique needs of their students and families through a new program called Community Achieves.

"They are empowering us to help our children be successful so they can go on and do things that we haven't done and become the people that we have yet to arrive to," said parent Tara Williams.

Community Achieves will provide everything from after school programs to GED classes for parents.

"In order for a kid not to drop out of high school they have to be good mentally," said Gonzales. "And you do that (with) caring adults and programs that really want the best for the students."

Gonzales said for her, these programs made all the difference.

"Right now I attend Nashville State. I study criminal justice," she said. "I actually want to be a homicide detective for the FBI. Isn't that ironic?"

The idea would make the schools the centerpiece of the community. A major part of the initiative would be aimed at getting parents more involved.

The YMCA, Martha O'Brian Center and the Metro Health Department were just some of the agencies that will provide programs.

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