“Christian is confident and gets along well with other children on the playground – a different boy than he was a year ago,” his mother, Carrie Luster said. “Last year was a rough year for him. He didn’t have any friends and he wasn’t doing that well in school,” his mother recalled. “He started participating in programs offered at the school and became a different boy.”

Christian and his siblings attend one of Knox County’s 15 Community Schools. Community Schools are public schools that serve as the hub for organizing community resources to improve neighborhood health and safety, and promote student academic success. “With our Community Schools, we have intentionally put partnerships in place to support the vision of healthy communities, with our community schools at the center,” said Stephanie Welch of Knox County’s Great Schools Partnership. “We help coordinate partnerships to support students and families, whether it be dental care, mental health services, an evening meal, a new pair of shoes because the ones the child has are being held together by duct tape, tutoring, or safe after-school activities, like art, gardening, soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.”

“I’m a working mom and it’s such a comfort to know that my children are being cared for by people who really want the best for them,” said Carrie. “The people there have really been like a second family to us.”

Just like family, Community School partners stepped in to help the Luster family when they needed it the most earlier this school year; when they were forced out of their home by a fire. “All of our clothes were either ruined or smelled like smoke,” Carrie said. “I made one call to the site coordinator at the school and she immediately went into action. She arranged for clothes for our kids and she sent home food for them.”

Great Schools Partnership Community School site coordinator, Mickayla Eldridge, said that she simply did what Community Schools are supposed to do — care for the families in that community. “Community Schools are a great example of what we can achieve when we all work together for the common good of one another,” she said.

United Way of Greater Knoxville is proud to support Partner Agencies like Great Schools Partnership that help children and families in our community.  Together, we fight for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in our community. Change doesn’t happen alone. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

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