The Bold Goals Coalition was pleased to recently host Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey for a convening of local school superintendents from the six-county Central Alabama region. Dr. Mackey spoke about the challenges of the last 14 months due to the unprecedented pandemic, as well as the opportunity that we have to fight this pandemic with unparalleled science and research. He urged participants to get vaccinated, because “vaccination is the path back to normalcy,” he said. He expects schools will be holding classes in-person next year.
Bill Jones, Bold Goals Education Co-Chair, discussed the Coalition’s current work with out-of-school and summer-program providers, such as YMCA of Greater Birmingham, A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club and Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama. These organizations have launched school-based academic enrichment programs during the summer within the Birmingham City School and Jefferson County School districts. Birmingham City School Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan said Birmingham City Schools are excited to welcome this new network of support for their students within nine pilot schools. By offering programs within the schools themselves rather than from their own facilities, these providers can reach many more students; and more students will benefit from having summer programming within their own communities. The Bold Goals Coalition hopes to continue to expand the model to include after-school programming within schools beginning in the fall.
Dr. Melissa Shields of the Alabama State Department of Education, who is also Co-Chair of Bold Goals Education, addressed the Coalition’s efforts to expand mental health strategies that have been piloted in local districts to reach more students. The Coalition is planning to support a forum where Mental Health Coordinators can regularly discuss solutions to their real-world challenges, learn from one another and hear about strategies and practices that are working in other districts. This is part of our ongoing search to find new ways to align the efforts and resources of community-based mental health providers and social service organizations with school districts.
We echo the gratitude that Dr. Mackey expressed toward school personnel, students and families for their resilience and willingness to press on through the difficulties of this past year. We look forward to our continued partnership with our schools to actualize the Bold Goals vision for every student to be on the pathway to becoming a productive individual in a prosperous region!
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.