Sometimes dreams come true and today was one of those days. Today we opened the Chets Creek Academic Resource Center at Portside. Portside is a 1000 mobile home community in our attendance zone. With over 1200 students at Chets Creek, about 250-300 of our students come from that community. While some of our most gifted students live there, so do a large percentage of our at-risk students and our families on free and reduced lunch. We have long talked about targeting this underserved community for some type of academic intervention. However, we are not a Title 1 school and while we have a substantial at-risk population, as many students as many small schools, we don't qualify for the type of money that would allow us to pay tutors outside of the school day.
Regardless of that reality, earlier this year our Leadership Team went to Portside to meet with their Management group to compare our visions of what could be done. The first project happened at Christmas time as our faculty poured out their love for the families in the community. We spent a "service Saturday" giving out gently used clothes, groceries, blankets and toys, playing games and making holiday ornaments with the kids in the community as they visited with Santa, and pressure washing and stapling plastic inside homes before winter cold leaked in. It was a great day, but the outpouring by the faculty just made us want to do more so... Liz Duncan , our Behaviorist who deals with discipline and KK Cherney, our Energizer Bunny who is is also our Media Specialist continued conversation with the Portside leadership. The Portside leadership, the Management Group ARC, knew that if they could offer academic support to their families that they would be giving their families more reason to stay. We knew if we could offer academic support, we might reduce the mobility in our school and raise the test scores of our children. But the commitment of both groups was so much more than that surface level of "what can this do for us." It has been obvious from the beginning that this is about making a real difference. As Liz and KK continued to work with ARC, they worked out a location within the community and ARC agreed to refurbish several rooms in a building for our use. They painted and carpeted two rooms while the Chets Creek artists got together to frame children's art work from the community and our art teachers painted a beautiful mural of a beach scene where we could hold story times. Book companies came through with bookcases and a load of new books for check out. ARC donated computers and their upkeep! We still have no money, but look what you can do with a load of care instead! The Chets Creek faculty has offered to man the Center throughout the Summer to offer academic support. We know that our students that do not read over the summer come back to school and have taken a step backwards - but not this year. This summer all of our children will read. I can only imagine the difference it will make! I don't know if all schools have a Liz or KK on their faculty or if they have Leadership that will set them free to dream and make their dreams come true, but I feel so fortunate to work in a place where people care so much. And don't tell me that businesses are all about money! ARC has given much and today book companies provided give aways to the children while Chick-fil-A provided food for the kids and Starbucks provided for the adults. Over 200 people showed up for the official ribbon cutting, -many of them Management officials from the parent ARC who flew in from all over the country, many of the faculty from Chets but mostly families from the community. Also there were our long time volunteers from Landstar who are interested in going to the community during their lunch times this summer to tutor children! Isn't it just amazing?!!