What would happen if you brought together school administrators, nonprofit professionals, business leaders, teachers, parents, students, faith leaders and other members of the community and asked them, "What can we do to ensure youth in our community have the greatest chance to succeed and graduate high school?" We got a chance to find out at the GradNation Community Summit on March 12.
More than 220 people brought their voices to the Wilma M. Sherrill Center on the campus of UNC Asheville. Students were the focus of the day and two middle school students acted as Masters of Ceremonies, while two eighth graders from Asheville Middle School performed self-penned poems. Artwork created in area middle schools also decorated the centerpieces of each table. (To view the students' artwork, visit this online gallery.) Students and their adult mentors populated a panel discussion about the importance of caring adults in middle schoolers' lives. Many said the panel, which was moderated by the superintendents of both Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools, was the most important part of the day.
Following breakout sessions and a keynote address by Jane Quinn titled, "Community Schools: A Strategy, Not a Program," those in attendance got to work discussing concrete action steps. How do we bring the community's resources into middle schools so that students are ready to succeed in high school and in life? The answers are as diverse as the minds in the room, but form the foundation of what United Way and the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network hope to accomplish as a part of this strategy and our Middle School Success Initiative.
The day offered a glimpse at the potential the future holds for students in Asheville and Buncombe County and the work of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. And this is just the beginning. To stay informed and get involved, click over to "Next Steps."
A big thank you goes to America's Promise Alliance for making this event possible. Learn more about America's Promise and the GradNation Community Summits.
Great Things Happen When We Live United
- Volunteer at an area middle school
- Learn about building a network of support for our schools
- Sign up for our newsletter