Feature Photo: Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA CEO Matt Mitchell with Sulphur Springs K-8 students in the YMCA Learning Garden. This is one of several programs at the school that teach students and community families learn how to identify different kinds of produce and how to incorporate healthy eating into their lifestyles.
The Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School in Tampa recently received statewide recognition as it qualified for the UCF-Certified Community Partnership School designation. This in depth designation process recognizes schools who focus on improving student well-being and success by engaging and supporting parents and the community.
Through the support of the YMCA, along with Tampa Family Health Centers, USF and the Hillsborough County School board, the school is able to offer more than just an education, they offer the resources and tools for students and their families to be successful.
Students who attend Sulphur Springs K-8 have the opportunity to enroll in the site-based YMCA program where after school extracurricular activities and focused tutoring sessions are provided. Together, the YMCA and the school sponsor several parent involvement and community events including free flea markets and teacher conference nights.
The school has an onsite nurse practitioner, who can treat common illnesses and prescribe basic medications. Students and families also have access to clothing and toiletries and a food bank – all free of charge.
“It’s getting kids in school and having them be successful in their academics, says Meagan Smityhman, Community School Director. “Often times people forget that things like being cold or having a sore throat, are barriers to getting to class, being focused, and doing well.”
This deep connection to the community is what gets the parents involved as well. “Three years ago, we did not have a PTA. When we developed this program, we had 56 members the first year, and last year it was just short of 100. We have seen parent engagement increasing, and wanting to get involved. We are seeing their desire to come back to the school and do things,” says Meagan.
For Meagan and the team at Sulphur Springs K-8, becoming a UCF-Certified Community Partnership School means expanded opportunities to support the Sulphur Springs Community. This designation gives them access to additional funding and connects them with a network of other partnership schools, allowing them to share ideas and best practices.
At the end of the day, says Meagan, “We support everything to get them in the seat and ready to learn.” Visit Sulphur Springs K-8 UCF Community Partnership School to learn more about the programs and services offered by the school.
*Presented by the YMCA