By Nichole Stevens
Dr. Robert Kronick works in the Claxton building at the University of Tennessee for the College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling.
Kronick said students and professionals need a feeling of connectedness and a reason to participate in their local communities. That’s why he works with two Full-Service Community Schools in the Pond Gap and Inskip communities. He wants to combine his expertise with the expertise of many others on behalf of those who need it the most: disadvantaged children.
The community schools at Pond Gap and Inskip provide children with extra resources that public schools don’t have the capacity to offer. The employees, consisting of about 20 people whose time is paid for with grants, are themselves members of the same communities. The program maintains a teacher-student ratio of 1:10, so that no student issues get overlooked.
Children enrolled in community schools are there because they encounter specific difficulties that lead to behavioral and academic struggles in regular public schools. From Kronick’s experience, children who exhibit behavioral issues in school and struggle to keep up in academics often wind up in juvenile correctional facilities or mental health institutions.
“We’re doing the first of three goals, which is prevention,” said Kronick. “We’re doing ‘school-based’ because that’s where the children and their families are. And we’re doing elementary schools because that’s when you can catch them the youngest.”
Kronick said he places close to “a couple hundred” students per semester in his community schools. Some of their work with children includes reading, ethics through Dr. Suess, and water quality, as well as supervised pre-med students who provide very basic medical care.
“Everything that we do is designed to not only help the kids learn and do better in school, but to do something in the neighborhood,” said Kronick.
“A community is only as good as its schools,” Kronick said. “If we don’t have good schools, people don’t stay here.”
The University of Tennessee’s collaboration with Knox County’s Full-Service Community Schools Program was nominated as a Partnership that Makes a Difference. Click here to read more.