From lost cause to national model

Jennings School District serves the whole child with support and resources from Washington University

Keyria Jeffries works with elementary students at Fairview Primary in Jennings, Missouri. A graduate student, Jeffries is part of the Brown School’s Urban Education Initiative — one of the key university initiatives serving the whole child in Jennings. (Photo: James Byard)

Good schools and good health. Strong teachers and strong families. Committed administrators and committed communities.

Jennings School District Superintendent Tiffany Anderson believes children need all of the above to thrive.

“It’s not either-or,” Anderson says. “We must serve the whole child.”

Washington University in St. Louis shares that vision. For years, it has supported Jennings in its journey from lost cause to national model. Education specialists from the Institute of School Partnership (ISP) are training teachers to bring hands-on science to their classrooms. Physicians from the School of Medicine are treating high school students at the SPOT clinic. And students and alumni are working one-on-one with children to boost their performance, their confidence and their prospects.

“It is a relationship that runs deep and wide,” says Victoria May, ISP executive director. “The administrators, teachers and parents of this district have worked so hard to turn Jennings around. It’s been very rewarding to be a partner and resource to them.”

May says the university will continue to work with Jennings after Anderson leaves to lead the Topeka School District. Art McCoy, another veteran in urban education, has been named Anderson’s successor.

“We share the same beliefs and the same values — that we all must come together for our children,” May says. 

Transforming K-12 science education

The Institute for School Partnership has introduced its MySci curriculum to every elementary classroom in the Jennings School District. The result: prepared educators and inspired students.

Treating students where they are

The Jennings School District, in partnership with Washington University School of Medicine, has launched a free, on-site health and social-services clinic called Supporting Positive Opportunities for Teens — The SPOT at Jennings.

Brown School student helps Jennings School District serve the whole child

As a social work practicum student, Keyria Jeffries will do anything to help the children of Fairview Primary. Some days that means finding a child a place to live. Other days, it means giving a hungry child something to eat.


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