UWABC Hosts Special Gathering of the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network

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The Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network brings together Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and community partners around a shared vision of creating success ready 9th graders and improving graduation rates, using a collective impact approach.

This week, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Middle School Success Initiative hosted a two day conference with members of the Middle Grades Network.

The conference began with a luncheon and two-hour presentation from Curtiss Sarikey, Senior Director for the Stuart Foundation, Dr. Pam Baldwin, Asheville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tony Baldwin, Buncombe County Schools Superintendent and Laura Elliot, Director of the Middle School Success Initiative.

Over the course of the conference, Mr. Sarikey presented to the Middle Grades Network on Oakland’s Unified School District’s integrated approach to maximizing impact of the community school strategy while local leaders discussed how this approach is relevant to and reflective of our current district strategic plans. Sarikey has over twenty-five years of experience working to improve communities and schools for children and families. In April of 2016, Mr. Sarikey was awarded the National Award for Excellence in District-Wide Leadership by the Coalition for Community Schools.

“It was inspiring to see a room packed full of 90 teachers, principals, counselors, nurses, superintendents, and community partners from across the county (and two school systems) coming together to discuss family and community engagement, compassionate schools, trauma-informed practices, student and family voice, and restorative justice,” said Zachary Goldman, Community Investment Manager at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

“That so many in-school and out-of-school partners are planning together in order to take action to grow and strengthen our ecosystem of support is a testament to the commitment of our county to ensure that all students and families are able to thrive,” said Goldman.

Three workshops followed the luncheon. The topics included compassionate schools, trauma-informed practices, culturally-specific strategies, restorative justice and student/family voice and leadership. Each workshop focuses on supporting work already underway with the students and family members from United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s partner middle schools in the Asheville, Enka, Erwin and Owen school districts.