Community matters at Knox Middle School

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Special to the Post

Do community-school partnerships really matter?  On behalf of the entire faculty and staff of Knox, we say yes! Our community has been hard at work this year supporting our efforts to change the community perception of Knox. As a school, we have a goal to make Knox Middle School the best middle school in the United States. You may think that sounds a bit too ambitious, but we think we are moving in the right direction. This community deserves a “pat on the back” for the assistance provided to the students of Knox so far this year.

The wonderful community support started this summer.  We had two very successful community clean up days at Knox before the school year started. We also received a variety of donations to help get our school ready for our students.  We received three donated truckloads of mulch, various plants and flowers, the use of pressure washers and more. The two days were great as students, parents, grandparents and even community members without a direct connection to the school showed up and worked hard for our kids.

We received several private donations to purchase six high-quality plastic-coated metal picnic tables at a cost of $3,500, which now provide a nice place for our students and teachers to enjoy their lunch under the Carolina sun. It also helps improve the perception of the school – once we had cracked, broken, falling apart picnic tables that were virtually useless. Aesthetics make a difference. We have started “The Knox Way,” which means being focused on success and doing everything with excellence.  A parent donated money to purchase Knox Way and College Bound banners that we were able to customize and place all over our school.

Other citizens offered to support our school as well.  Our teachers received dinner at the Salisbury Country Club thanks to a donation.  This was a great treat for us and allowed us to relax in an awesome setting after the school year began.  As we approached the start of our athletic games, we ran into another issue.  We did not have money to purchase field paint. As soon as we talked to a few people about this issue, another private citizen came through and donated about $1,500 for field paint and other athletic supplies.  The community has been a constant source of support for our school.  A private citizen donated $25,000 to our school to start an after-school program.  This more than generous gift will allow us to start a free after-school program, with transportation for our students. Students who are behind academically need extra time for instruction, and this gift will allow us to provide these services. We would need about $10,000 more to run it for the rest of the school year.

You also may have read about our recent College Week. With the great help of Communities in Schools and Crosby Scholars, we were able to give our kids their first College Week experience. We have many kids who tell us nobody in their family has attended college.  We see it as our job to break that cycle.  This will culminate with a trip to a college in the spring. The idea of college becomes more tangible, more real to our students when they visit a college campus.  All of this is being funded by a local grant. Additionally, Communities in Schools provides college tutors for students. The college tutors come weekly and work with students in their academic studies, serving as positive role models and mentors.  Recently our students have had the privilege of witnessing a red-tailed hawk be released back into the wild.  It was being rehabilitated at the Carolina Raptor Center. Our kids enjoyed it and got a little closer to science that day.  These are the types of things that get kids excited about school.  Kiwanis Club provided free vision checks for our eighth-grade students. We had about 30 students identified as needing glasses.  What a great gift for these kids – how can we expect our kids to be successful in school when they can’t even see?

Our faith-based partner, St. John’s Lutheran Church, provides community support for Knox in numerous ways.  Thus far this year, members have helped with tutoring services, collection of school supplies, and funding for those needing assistance with iPad usage fees.  Also, St. John’s has an after-school art program for Knox students, Barnabas Connection, in which students meet weekly and attend a summer camp.  Additionally, they provide support for our weekend backpack food program. We would be remiss to leave out one of the hardest working groups – the Knox PTA!  They work tirelessly to the benefit of our kids. They have been invaluable to our school this year (as we are sure they have been in the past as well).  Whenever our school identifies a need, our PTA is always willing to jump right in and help.  They have been most gracious with their time, energy, support and so much more.

Have you been to Knox lately?  We invite you to come out to our school/community visit this Wednesday at 8 a.m.  We hope you can take some time to come out and see Knox for yourself. The community has invested so much in our school this year. The facility looks different.  The school feels different.   Our students are excited to show you what “The Knox Way” means.  We welcome you to come visit on Wednesday or any other time that is convenient to you.

Dr. Latoya Dixon, Dr. Michael Waiksnis, Tonya German, Knox administrative team