DEKALB COUNTY, GA – McNair High School is now officially home to DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD) second Student And Family Engagement (S.A.F.E.) Center. McNair joins Cross Keys High School in providing wraparound services through community partnerships to support students’ immediate needs in their school, home and community. The center is designed to equip students academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally to be better scholars and productive citizens.
DeKalb Schools and community partners celebrated the center’s opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 2. The centers started as a vision four years ago for Interim Superintendent Vasanne S. Tinsley, who was Deputy Superintendent of Student Support and Intervention at the time.
“We’ve always had partners to come into the schools and pour into our students, but to have a dedicated space, a safe space, for students and families to receive the resources that can help them be successful is phenomenal,” said Dr. Tinsley.
“This is something that has been needed for a long time. I’m excited about all the great things that will come from this partnership for this community.”
The center provides family support services, including a food and clothes pantry, wellness checks and family support groups. The center also offers mental and emotional health counseling, discipline support through restorative practices, substance abuse and drug prevention services, mentorship programs, and life skills groups for student growth.
“Students deserve to have basic needs met. Without these needs being met, it is very difficult for us to talk about things such as test scores, academic achievement, or G.P.A.s,” said Tinsley. “If we can help by bringing in partners and resources to the communities to support the students and the families, can you imagine the type of academic achievement we will see from students?”
DeKalb Schools has partnered with several community organizations to help provide these services to the community, including the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Amerigroup, CareSource, Pathways Transition Program, Clark Atlanta University, DeKalb County Community Policing Unit, Georgia State University, Learn4Life, New Life Church, The Scholarship Academy, The Sisterhood Project, and State Farm, which provided the furniture.
McNair High School students painted some of the artwork displayed in the center. Even before the official grand opening this week, 52 students utilized the center, 450 families received food from the food pantry, and 19 students received mental health services from Pathways.
“We are thrilled to be able to put services into the community. When a school is strong, the community is strong,” said Deborah Moore-Sanders, Deputy Superintendent of the Division of Equity and Student Empowerment.
“Our goal is to eliminate barriers to student achievement by bringing the necessary resources to meet this community. As the students tell us what they need, we aim to ensure that we provide those services,”Moore-Sanders said.
DeKalb County Board of Education member Deirdre Pierce, who represents the McNair cluster, said she is excited about the S.A.F.E. Center. Board Vice Chair Diijon DaCosta and Board member Allyson Gevertz also attended.
“I am a former McNair parent, so I’m very excited. I have lived in this community for 48 years, and we have stayed the course here on Bouldercrest Road,” Pierce said. “I’m excited about what is coming to Bouldercrest to enhance what’s already here.”