Kimberlin Academy student-community partnership pilot enriches learning

Community-school partnerships not only strengthen bonds between campuses and residents. They lead to impactful connections that result in academic success and physical well-being. That is why Kimberlin Academy for Excellence launched a pilot program inviting the Knights community to engage with students.

“Many years ago when I was at another GISD campus, I started a volunteer program to help build connections between the community and our students,” said second grade teacher Kara King. “Now I’m at Kimberlin, and we are piloting the program in second grade.” 

Since the pilot kick off, the campus has had up to 20 volunteers visiting every Friday. The dedicated group helps students improve language arts skills by working through personalized word lists.

“Students receive ten words from the grade-level curriculum that covers the phonemic pattern for the week,” King explained. “However, instead of having the same four high-frequency words on all lists, students have individualized words based on their need. It is picture-perfect differentiation.”

Students enjoy working one-on-one with volunteers—some of whom are very familiar faces.

“Some participants have connections to students here and some do not,” King said. “One thing that impresses me is that our administrators, Principal Tobi Schmidt and Assistant Principal Tammy Sullivan, volunteer weekly. In my 10 years of leading this program, having administrators participate is a first.” 

That strong support from leadership echoes the pilot’s ultimate mission—to promote achievement through collaboration.

“What all volunteers have in common is the desire to help students meet their full potential. My heart is soaring with pride.”

Photos courtesy of Kara King.