Hamilton County Schools Celebrates Community Partnerships at Partners in Education Breakfast
Posted on 03/05/2019
Hamilton County Schools recognized businesses, community organizations, and faith-based organizations for their commitment to public education and contributions to children at the Partners In Education breakfast on Friday, March 1 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The event was sponsored by Unum and Fund for Excellence and more than 300 gathered for the recognition.

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson spoke to the partners from across the district and shared how community partners have positively impacted the district and the importance of continuing to engage the community in the promise for tomorrow for all children in Hamilton County Schools. The attendees also heard from three members of the Leadership Hamilton County Schools Class of 2019: Troy Brand, Orchard Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church; Kristen Pavlik McCallie, Children’s Advocacy Center; and Joshua Sneideman, Learning Blade. The group of community stakeholders has experienced Hamilton County Schools this year through regular school visits and discussions about both the successes and challenges of supporting students.
“We know for kids to succeed they have to be happy, they have to be safe, and they have to have safe, nurturing adults in their life,” said McCallie. “We all need to rally behind what’s happening in this school district and make sure that everyone is part of this conversation.”
“We have a good thing here,” added Brand, “Talk to educators or visit a school to see what is happening because I see the glimmer and burning desire to teach in the eyes of our teachers.”
In addition to continuing the conversation about how the community and schools can work together, the event honored and recognized each partnership involved in our schools because all partnerships are vital to the success of our schools and the children we serve. Hamilton County Schools recognized eight community partners with a 2019 Outstanding Partner Award.

2019 Outstanding Partner Award Recipients:
First Cumberland Presbyterian Bridge Chattanooga Program is a partner that is consistently present at Dalewood Middle School and takes the time to develop relationships with the students and community. They eat lunch with the students several times during the week and work with the school to develop and implement projects while providing support to the school in handling the logistics. In addition to the Bridge program, First Cumberland Presbyterian also helps families in need by providing resources like furniture, food, and clothing. The church also supports staff by providing lunch, adventures and lending a helping hand to make the school a happy place for students.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Chattanooga is an organization that recognizes the importance of change and adaptation. With the successful launch of “Beyond School Walls” and “First Bigs in Blue,” this organization thinks of new ways to deliver their program to serve children better. While following a national model, they continue to adjust what mentorship looks like here in Chattanooga and how it is done to meet the needs of students.

As a corporate partner, Unum goes far beyond financial contributions or volunteer hours. Unum serves as an active partner in providing support to public education by financially supporting not just the schools, but organizations that serve schools, families, and students. They also support efforts through student and teacher mentorships, providing meeting and event space, and even helping coordinate major events.

East Brainerd Church of Christ’s Snack Pack Program serves almost 2,000 students each weekend from more than 14 schools. “It can be embarrassing for a child or even an adult to let others know they may be experiencing hunger,” said Tonya Turman, parent volunteer coordinator at Orchard Knob Middle School. “The snack pack program allows any of our students the opportunity to take home a bag without feeling embarrassed.”

Huddle House local owner, Gregg Hansen, is a local business owner who volunteers with several schools - but not by himself - he always brings along another community business partner. The visits help his business colleagues learn more about and see the needs in schools. Hansen also uses his business to donate food to school events that engage families as well as for teacher celebrations.

Northside Neighborhood House has served the North Shore community since 1924. In the last decade, Northside Neighborhood House began exploring, with Red Bank High school and both city and district leadership, how to better serve school-age children and their families. By bringing their support expertise to a partnership with Red Bank High School, NNH was able to open the district’s first community school. This model of providing wrap-around support through the school building has expanded to Hixson Middle and Red Bank Middle. Northside Neighborhood House continues to work alongside district and county leadership to codify the Hamilton County way of doing community schools and to bring this model of service to schools they partner with as well as schools outside of their footprint.

Last year, Greenspaces provided schools with electric car kits that student groups were able to build themselves. The hands-on learning activity provided students with unique STEM opportunity. The project also excited and engaged teachers. The electric car construction culminated in a race of their student-built electric cars at the Chattanooga Green Prix. This year, Greenspaces provided 30 schools with electric car kits and to provide professional development for the teachers along with providing a monetary stipend for the extra time the teachers spent with students working on the cars after the school day. The organization is also working to identify programming that can support families in workforce development.

TN Suicide Prevention Network’s Amy Dolinky was instrumental in assisting Hamilton County Schools with developing a protocol for suicide prevention. She provided support and served as a thought partner with district staff to develop the current protocol. Social-emotional wellbeing is an important focus of the district, and through this partnership, our ability to provide this support to our students and staff was strengthened. Representatives from the organization could not attend the event.