NEWPORT—In August 2017, Save the Children expanded services provided to Cocke County through its Community Collaborative initiative. The goal of the program is to bring together all entities that are interested in improving education in the district.

This includes community representatives, business leaders, school system administrators, school level faculty and staff, and parents. Save the Children has provided Community Engagement Specialist, Chase Davenport, to direct and support the district in this initiative.

While great progress has been accomplished through the Community Collaborative efforts, Save the Children recently provided additional technical assistance through StriveTogether training. Planning and facilitation of the recent StriveTogether workshop was completed by the Save the Children Program Coordinators at Bridgeport (Diane Buckner), Cosby (Debra Smith), Edgemont (Alisha Messer), and Northwest (Deanie Grooms).

Additionally each of these schools, along with Centerview, Del Rio, Grassy Fork, and Smoky Mountain had a school level team attend the training. With additional community/business leaders and school district personnel, over fifty people participated in the day-long training.

StriveTogether was founded on a simple principle: Those who care about a community’s children — from parents and educators to civic leaders and local employers — can accomplish more by working together than by working apart.

A national, nonprofit network of nearly 70 community partnerships, StriveTogether helps communities identify and scale what works in education. They provide coaching, connections and resources to help partnerships share data, align resources and shape policy. The StriveTogether network reaches 10.4 million students and operates in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

With “Every Child, Cradle to Career” as its basis, StriveTogether focuses on goals and actions ranging from kindergarten readiness to graduation and post-secondary enrollment and completion.

Their Theory of Action provides a framework for a group of people in a community working towards the same outcomes. The group uses disaggregated student/school level data to identify needs, continuously improves practices over time, identifies individual practitioners to work on specific issues, collects qualitative and quantitative data for their individual programs, and demonstrates impact with individual students.

The purpose of the StriveTogether training was to determine a vision the attendees wanted to achieve for the children of Cocke County and what aligned actions would be needed to achieve that vision, affirm the critical milestones across a child’s educational journey needed to achieve the community vision and what data needed to be collected to assess progress, determine the key roles of a partnership for the community and identify the stakeholders best positioned to fill those roles.

StriveTogether also created an action plan for continuing the work of the day and sustaining momentum for the partnership, and making individual, organizational, and collective action commitments towards the next steps of the action plan.

At the end of the workshop, the attendees agreed that the vision of the group is for all Cocke County students to graduate with the necessary skills to be able to pursue post-secondary opportunities and to become productive citizens.

A leadership team was identified to provide guidance and direction for the collaborative. The leadership team has since met to complete applications to join the StriveTogether network.

The Cocke County School System established its partnership with Save the Children in 2008 with literacy programs at Bridgeport and Northwest. Since then, programs have been added at Edgemont, Cosby Elementary, Centerview, Del Rio, Grassy Fork, and Smoky Mountain. All of these schools have benefited greatly from the generous funding and resources provided by Save the Children.

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