Faces of Success: Tusculum Elementary Students
Tusculum Elementary School’s current facility is 42 years old. Refugees make up 35 percent of the student population; this group speaks more than 25 different languages. These were some of the daily obstacles that teacher Kimberly Fuller experienced throughout the school year.
“At the beginning of the year, many of our students had problems communicating with us,” said Fuller. “We relied heavily on demonstrated physical movements to get them to stand up, push their chairs in and even line up.”
Fuller saw a tremendous transformation in her first and second grade students throughout the year. Part of that success was tied to the volunteerism and generosity of 88 corporations in the Nashville community that partnered with United Way of Metropolitan Nashville for last summer’s Stuff the Bus Days of Action. Stuff the Bus furnished every student with a backpack full of school supplies to help them focus on learning.
“Sometimes the kids come to school and they had random school supplies,” said Fuller. “One of the things that was great about the backpacks was that it let them see that people cared about them. It was also important because they were ready for their work in the classroom.”
In 2016, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s largest community engagement opportunity allowed hundreds of volunteers, advocates and corporate partners — including presenting sponsors Bridgestone Americas and the Tennessee Titans — the opportunity to impact the educational outcomes of Nashville’s at-risk children through a series of five separate events, the Field Day, Corporate Challenge, Supply Collection Drives, Sort-a-Thon and Backpack Delivery.
“It’s a great way to help people you wouldn’t necessarily think of,” said Fuller. “These kids aren’t out there in the open where everyone can see them. Stuff the Bus is an easy way for corporations in our community to get involved and impact a child’s life.”
Last year, Stuff the Bus corporate sponsors and 960 volunteers donated their time to make sure that 9,635 children at nine different schools — including Tusculum Elementary School — 18 United Way Family Resource Centers and 36 partner agencies had backpacks full of school supplies and were ready to learn on the first day of school. This outpouring of community support alleviated the feelings of stress and anxiety of administrators and educators, as well as students in these communities that often hang over the beginning of a new academic year.
“We are so used to going out and buying all the supplies because the kids just don’t have them,” said Fuller. “Their parents are trying to get adjusted to a new country, new job and new place to live. It’s hard for them to understand what tools their children need to succeed in school. Some of them simply can’t afford school supplies.”
Fuller was excited about the educational gains her students made throughout the year at Tusculum Elementary School. The combination of direction provided by teachers in the classroom, as well as the benevolence and engagement of Nashville’s corporate volunteers, advocates and givers is at work to transform Fuller’s community.
“While many of them didn’t understand the language on the first day, they are now writing and speaking in sentences; it’s awesome to see their growth,” said Fuller.
Tusculum Elementary School is a prime example of what it means to empower individuals in the Nashville community to improve the lives of our neighbors in need.
Click here to get involved in Stuff the Bus Days of Action!