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Assistant Director of Schools for Student Support Katie Brown inventories a delivery of new boots.

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Investing In Our Future - Student By Student

Sumner County Schools Family Resource Center Takes Care Of Students And Families In Need

Sumner County is home to one of the best school systems in the state of Tennessee. Each year, the system graduates thousands of students who are eager to take on the future. Whether they are continuing their academic careers in college, learning a trade or immediately entering the workforce, Sumner County high school graduates are well-prepared for the challenges to come.

While the graduates deserve credit for their hard work, their achievements would not be possible without the tireless efforts of Sumner County teachers, administration and support staff. These dedicated professionals go out of their way to ensure that all students have the proper instruction, materials and guidance to achieve scholastic success.

However, successful learning depends upon more than what goes on in the classroom.

Despite the overall health of the Sumner County economy, there are many students in need through no fault of their own. As they deal with a lack of everyday basics such as food, clothing, and toiletries, these students and their families face unique challenges that threaten their education.

Fortunately, the school system has taken this situation into consideration and developed a formidable response – the Sumner County Schools Family Resource Center. It is operated under the auspices of the Sumner County School Board, and it is overseen by Assistant Director of Schools Katie Brown with direct supervision by Family Resource Center Director Cathy Graff.

Established in 1993, the Family Resource Center is a hub for collecting and distributing materials and resources needed to support and prepare students for continuing success in the classroom.

“Our purpose is to provide vital resources for students in need, so that they can have everything necessary to focus on learning in school,” says Cathy. “We want to make sure that all students are properly fed and clothed so that they can do their best in the classroom.”

In the center’s storerooms, there is a constantly changing inventory of food and dry goods available to meet student needs. Available resources include clothing, shoes, new underwear and socks, food and school supplies.

“Currently, we receive funding from the school board each year of $22,500, along with a state grant of $29,600,” says Cathy. “We use these funds to purchase as many items as we can to help take care of our students and their families.”

While this funding is critical, it is not enough to meet the needs of all students in need, and the demand keeps on increasing.

“As of January 2022, we have already directly served 370 students,” says Cathy. “That number represents a 32% increase over the same time last year.”

Fortunately, Sumner County is a generous community, and that generosity helps to fill the gap between the center’s budget funding and the actual student needs.

“We have churches and neighborhoods throughout Sumner County who go above and beyond for our students, providing us with such essentials as new socks and underwear, and even gift cards to help families with emergency needs,” says Cathy. “For example, this past December, the Hidden Pointe subdivision in Hendersonville provided much-needed supplies for our students right before Christmas – it was a true blessing.”

The high level of community support is also appreciated by Sumner County Schools Director, Dr. Del Philips.

"The Sumner County community is phenomenal," says Dr. Phillips. "The support people provide is life-changing because when a child has clothes, shoes, and backpacks they are proud of, it gives them confidence in themselves, and by extension, they gain confidence in their learning. We are grateful for Sumner County's commitment to ensuring our children are well taken care of. "

Along with its daily operations, the Family Resource Center is also home to the federally funded McKinney-Vento food program, which provides additional resources for students in homeless situations. While separate from the center itself, the two programs work closely together to meet student needs.

As with the rest of the world, the last two years have proven to be difficult for the Family Resource Center due to the impact of Covid-19. From remote learning to quarantines, keeping the resource pipeline operating has been a challenge.

“We have worked hard to ensure that remote learning students have the same access to center resources as do in-classroom students. If they have unmet needs, all they need to do is to let their school counselors know and they will relay the request to us,” says Cathy. “If transportation is an issue, we will find a way to drop off their supplies at their homes.”

Covid-19 has also adversely affected another vital center resource – volunteers.

“We love to use volunteers to help us maintain our inventory and to deliver our resources,” says Cathy. “However, Covid has had a tremendous impact upon our volunteer pool. We would love to have many more kind souls come and help us at the center.”

The passion displayed by Katie, Cathy and their team is infectious, and it reverberates throughout the center as well as in the lives of every student they touch. They are true treasures of Sumner County who are making a difference in student lives every day.

If you would like to donate and/or volunteer, please contact the Sumner County Schools Family Resource Center. They will be grateful for your support.

Sumner Count Schools Family Resource Center

Hawkins Building

695 East Main Street,

Gallatin, TN 37066

615.451.6548

SumnerSchools.org

  • Shoes of all sizes and brands are available for students in need.
  • Along with clothing and school supplies, toiletries are popular items at the Family Resource Center.
  • A basket of colorful socks is ready to be distributed to students.
  • Family Resource Center Cathy Graff shows off a name brand coat ready to be given to a student in. need.
  • A constantly changing inventory of clothing and outerwear is available for students.
  • Assistant Director of Schools for Student Support Katie Brown inventories a delivery of new boots.
  • Backpacks are preconfigured with grade-appropriate supplies.
  • Along with soft goods, the Family Resource Center also houses a fully-stocked food pantry.
  • Assistant Director of Schools for Student Support Katie Brown and Family Resource Center Director Cathy Graff pose in front of a clothing rack.
  • Shoes are among the items needed most by students.