“Community leaders care about our economic development, employers care about employees, teachers care about students, churches care about our spiritual well-being, medical professionals care about our health — the list goes on.”
That “genuine care” is seen clearly in the BEST partnership program of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. BEST is an acronym for Business & Education Serving Together, which forges partnerships between a business and a selected school that care enough to commit time, energy and expertise for the good of both.
The newest BEST partnership recognizes the unique caring relationship between Westmore Church of God and GOAL Academy. The relationship has been in place for three years but became an official BEST partnership a few weeks ago.
“There are not enough positive words in my vocabulary to describe the partnership between GOAL Academy and Westmore Church of God,” said Kyle Page, GOAL Academy principal. GOAL Academy is the alternative school for the Bradley County School System.
Goal Academy serves at-risk students in grades 6-12, both academically or behaviorally, in Bradley County Schools. The alternative school identifies students’ area of need and then works to build an educational program to help them be successful. GOAL students are either in behavioral trouble on their home campus, transitioning into the school system from a nontraditional placement or reaching their final years of high school and need to catch up academically to graduate on time.
“With alternative education, you will find a great deal of struggle on multiple levels for students,” Page explained, “and Westmore has recognized and seized the opportunity to help both staff and students on a recurring basis.”
One of the core values of the ministries of Westmore Church of God, a Chamber member since 2001, is “reaching with care.”
“We believe this partnership not only provides us the opportunity to continue to reach with care into our community, but it allows us to join efforts with a dynamic organization that is reaching others in a caring way too,” the Rev. Jason Browning, associate pastor, explained. “GOAL Academy provides a level of care and support for students who are in a very critical stage of life.”
Browning continued, “In speaking with Principal Page, it is evident he has similar goals for the school that Westmore has for its ministries. Kyle is a leader who values kindness and discipline. Teaching students’ responsibility and shaping them to be contributing citizens, Kyle and his team model excellence in this field.”
Neal observed that Westmore and GOAL Academy demonstrate that “reaching with care” involves a commitment of time, energy and expertise between the business and the school.
“Westmore proves that a church can make a significant contribution to the learning environment,” she commented. “We are impressed by the investment they have already made to these at-risk students and the staff that serves there.”
Page noted several areas where the local church has reached out to the staff and students at GOAL Academy.
“Transportation to events is vital because we do not have a bus system,” the principal noted. “Westmore has been gracious in providing a bus for many activities, which has allowed us to expand the experiences of our students.”
Specifically, transportation has included incentive trips, job-shadowing opportunities, career planning at Tennessee Technology Center in Athens and staff in-service days.
“Westmore has staffed and assisted in multiple grounds and building clean-up days in both the fall and spring for three years,” Page said. “This has been vital to helping clean and maintain the nice facility the taxpayers of Bradley County have blessed us with.”
Page also shared that the church has sponsored special guests, like Reggie Dabbs, a nationally recognized speaker; Big Brother/Sister relationships for mentoring; and tutoring opportunities.
Pointing out that GOAL students often have not had breakfast when they arrive at school, Page shared that a volunteer from the clean-up effort prepares homemade muffins for students each semester. “This kind gesture has been a huge blessing.”
Browning concluded, “Westmore is excited to be official BEST partners through the Chamber and look forward to many years of partnership with GOAL Academy.”
Sherry Crye, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Commerce, coordinates the BEST partnership program.
“The partnership between Westmore Church of God and GOAL Academy is a special fit,” Crye said. “We are always excited to find Chamber members that are genuinely interested in helping our local schools through the BEST partnership program. This particular partnership between a church and an alternative school will help ensure that all our students, even those at-risk, will be prepared to join the workforce in the years to come.”
According to Crye, schools in the Bradley County and Cleveland City School Systems have one or more local business partners as part of the BEST program. Private schools that are Chamber members may also participate in the program.
For information about the BEST partnership program, call Crye at 472-6587.
Principal Kyle Page, left, and Associate Pastor Jason Browning, right, accept a BEST partnership flag signifying the official partnership between Westmore Church of God and GOAL Academy. Presenting the flag is Sherry Crye, director of workforce development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.