Hamilton Co. schools host Opportunity Zone kickoff - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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Hamilton Co. schools host Opportunity Zone kickoff

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

High school band members, parents, students, and community members helped kick-off a new initiative to improve Hamilton County schools.

The Opportunity Zone offers an unprecedented level of support for HCDE Priority schools as well as those schools identified 'as on the cusp.'

The people who showed up today were put into smaller groups. Faculty and staff were in one room, community members were in another, and parents were grouped together depending on which school their child attends. 

Channel 3 sat in with a group of parents from Barger Academy, Orchard Knob Elementary and Woodmore Elementary. 

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into but I'm glad I came because this is very uplifting to see everybody on one accord," said parent, Terral Harrison. 

Harrison has four children in Hamilton County schools. Two of them go to Orchard Knob Elementary, which listed among the I-Zone or low-performing schools. Because of that Harrison says she worried about her daughters' education. 

"I didn't want Orchard Knob's numbers to bring her to a level where she didn't want to use her mind or her education or she became not interested in." 

The initial schools receiving support through the Opportunity Zone are Brainerd High, The Howard School, East Lake Middle Academy, Dalewood Middle, Orchard Knob Middle, Barger Academy of Fine Arts, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, Clifton Hills Elementary, East Lake Elementary, Hardy Elementary, Orchard Knob Elementary, and Woodmore Elementary. 

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says those schools will receive more support from the district to reach their goals. 

"Our focus, as always, is on urgency and excellence. By increasing focused support for these schools, we send a strong message to not only the staff working in these schools, but also to the students, that we stand with them as we work together to become the fastest improving district in the state of Tennessee. We wanted to be very strategic about the work that we did and we feel like by really addressing the pattern you get siblings, you get families you get to support the child," said Johnson. 

School principals led the discussions asking parents three questions: What does opportunity look like for your child to become college/or career ready? How can we make this possible? What opportunities do you wish your kids had at school that they currently don't have?        

Harrison says she realizes parents are key. 

READ MORE | Opportunity Zones established to prevent more Hamilton Co. Schools from falling into I-Zones

"More parent involvement. because like I said it falls back on us and if we don't get along as parents our kids wont get along if we don't instil good things in them nothing good is going to come out of them. so it all falls back on us and what we put into our kids and what we put into somebody else's kids." 

This is the school district's first big step in addressing it's low-performing schools here at a local level. Right now board members still plan to discuss a state partnership.

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