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VOL. 128 | NO. 146 | Monday, July 29, 2013

Community Forums Help Parents Navigate School Changes

By Jennifer Johnson Backer

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As students and their parents gear up for going back to the school, a local campaign is holding a series of forums throughout the city to educate families on what to expect for the inaugural school year of the consolidated countywide school system.

The next “Our Children. Our Success.” community forum will be hosted by Church Health Center, Leadership Memphis and New Direction Christian Church. The forum is open to the public and will be held on Monday, July 29, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at New Direction Christian Church, 6120 Winchester Road.

Other local nonprofits have teamed up with SchoolSeed, the campaign sponsor, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, Latino Memphis, Literacy Mid-South, The Rise Foundation, Women’s Foundation, Shepherding the Next Generation, Memphis Athletic Ministries, Pink Palace, Neighborhood Christina Center and Urban Youth Initiative.

The Daily News also is a partner in the “Our Children. Our Success.” effort.

Jacqueline Oselen, program coordinator at Leadership Memphis, said volunteers and representatives from Shelby County Schools will be on hand to answer questions on everything from uniforms and athletics to school hours and bus schedules.

The new unified district unites legacy Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, creating Tennessee’s largest school system and the No. 14 district in the U.S. by size.

The “Our Children. Our Success.” Campaign aims to make the school year a success by ironing out as many bumps in the road as possible.

“Our decision to get involved was really a no-brainer,” Oselen said. “Parents look at community partnerships as a trusted source during this change.”

Leadership Memphis is involved in a number of Memphis education initiatives, including the Memphis Talent Dividend: College Attainment Initiative, which aims to increase the number of college graduates by 1 percent over the next five years.

Memphis currently ranks No. 48 out of 51 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas when measuring the percentage of the city’s population with a college degree, according to Chicago-based CEOs for Cities. Leadership Memphis also is working with eight area high schools to increase the number of students that pursue post-secondary education.

Jeff Hulett, a spokesman for the Church Health Center, said representatives from nonprofit organization will also be available to give parents information about new bus routes, the first day of school and anything else they want to know about the unified school district.

The Church Health Center promotes overall health and wellness through a number of outreach programs available to the community. Church Health Center operates an 80,000-square-foot wellness center that offers programs for both children and their families, including nutrition night, physical activity for children starting at age 2, kid’s yoga, wellness and prevention education, and activities that promote communication skills.

“We will be there to answer any of the questions about school starting, but also as a community resource,” Hulett said. “Change is hard, even if it is a simple change.”

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