ADVANCING EQUITY & OPPORTUNITY IN HAMILTON COUNTY
5 bold goals for 2030
I have had the opportunity to participate in ‘Cultural Conversations’, where HCS faculty share an open discussion about our teaching methods and how they relate to the cultural backgrounds of those we teach. Ideas shared from these discussions have helped me connect with students more.
We know that the key barriers to digital equity include income and affordability of service. But we also know there are rural areas where access is not available at any cost. This includes residents in parts of Sale Creek, Birchwood and Harrison who are outside the footprint EPB can legally serve, who did not have high speed home access well before the pandemic hit. In order to ensure every student is able to learn from home, HCS EdConnect has provided nearly 500 4G hotspots with unlimited data to families living in north Hamilton County. In our community, regardless of income or address, all students can access remote learning. That’s true digital equity.
The Future Ready program makes me want to come to school every day, because you never know what’s going to be planned. That’s what I like most about it. I always wanted to be an anesthesiologist or a neurosurgeon. But it was always just out of my head – I can’t do this, I’ve got to play football, I’ve got to play some type of sport. This program has really opened up my horizon. It’s given me connections and mentors.
Part of being a community school is creating that community for kids who aren’t plugged in otherwise. We have kids who aren’t plugged into sports or theatre and don’t have anything going on at home. So we get to create a space for kids on the margins who might otherwise sit by themselves, or stare at a computer, or might be off in a corner. They get to come together and we don’t really let them sit on the margins. We pull them into the fold and make them engage.
I think I would have quit last year (my first year) if it wasn’t for the new teacher Induction program. Everything was so overwhelming, but the most helpful thing was to know that I had people to support me and a place that I could go where other new teachers would share their experiences too and we could lean on each other for support.
One of the greatest wins for early childhood in our community is the development of the Early Matters action team. It has created a place for all those working in early childhood to come together, identify needs, and tackle big issues collaboratively. This will prove to be a powerful force in advancing early childhood education in our community in the future.
We become licensed professionals before we go off to college. Once we turn 18, we can actually work in a healthcare facility while still being college students. It is a great opportunity.
The reality is, whether a student chooses to get a certificate, or go to a two or four-year college, or straight into the military, everything ends at a job. To be productive citizens, they need to be employed.
It was expected that, as Black and Latinx students in a poor area, we wouldn’t make it to college and that we should search for somewhere “safe”. This felt too limiting to me; I always wanted the option to leave Tennessee and I was often told that it would be best for me to focus on staying in Tennessee because it would be less likely that I could get into or afford a school on the outside. It was the Passport Scholars program let me know that I could reach for any place when it came to my education.
Because of the STEP-UP internship, I got to help my mother pay bills, put food on the table and be the one for her to rely on while she was at her lowest. Having this internship was an open door for me. I want you all to know how thankful I am and hope you continue to do all that you all do because you change lives.
My STEP-UP mentor has been amazing to work with so far, and he has been very encouraging of my goal to pursue constitutional law. Learning about his career and how he worked his way up to his current position at a firm has helped me realize that, as scary as it may seem, it’s completely possible to reach my goals and dreams.
In the 5 years since the launch of Chattanooga 2.0, the residents of Chattanooga-Hamilton County have much to be proud of in the way of big wins from cradle to career. Our 2021 Report to the Community highlights these accomplishments along with the challenges and opportunities ahead, laying out clear goals and strategies for the next decade.
We invite you to join us in moving forward together, stronger.
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