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A Whole Child model school: A new way of operating at Osborne High School

By Tinesha Dunlap, wraparound services coordinator, Osborne High School

Osborne High School in the Cobb County School District was once identified as a needs improvement school based on criteria that was set by the state. As a Title I school, Osborne serves roughly 2,700 students who are primarily Latinx (67%), Black (25%), white (6%) and other (2%). More than 81% of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch and many of the students live in the community, where there is very low child well-being, which means there are few resources and opportunities to ensure students thrive.

In 2019, we had a desire to do a new thing. Osborne’s commitment to addressing academic and non-academic barriers to student success led to the development of The Nest Hub, an on-site, one-stop, comprehensive wraparound center that provides expanded learning opportunities, family support services and integrated support services. Because of the work of The Nest, Osborne High School has been selected by the Georgia Department of Education to participate in the Whole Child model school certification. To date, Osborne High School is the first and only school in the Cobb County School District to become a community school.  

What makes this initiative so special is that it is uniquely designed for and representative of our school community. We conducted a deep needs assessment that reached 75% of our student population. This process helped us to understand their pain points and suggested ways to make their educational experience fruitful. Because our students voiced their “tug of war” between life and school, we prioritized services that would remove stressors and circumvent dropping out. 

Through The Nest, I was successful in securing over $85,000 in funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, several nonprofit organizations and other private donations  

to outfit the center and offer emergency financial assistance to our families. We housed two mental health therapists on campus for students to quickly access and utilize their therapeutic skills to keep the student in school. Additionally, we offered student support groups on topics such as anxiety and depression, grief, leadership development and substance use. These groups provided a sense of belonging and connection to other students that share similar experiences.

We were also successful in expanding learning opportunities through our work-based learning program. With the strong support of the Great Promise Partnership, a workforce development partner, we were fortunate to establish partnerships with a prominent health care system, the school district’s food and nutrition department, daycare centers, and a gas station to provide employment opportunities during and after school. This allowed students to not only help their families financially and eliminate stress but also remain in school to continue their path toward graduation.  

Student voice has been the fuel to keep our programs and services relevant and exciting. Since the inception of The Nest in 2020, access to the hub has tripled and student feedback confirmed satisfaction with the programs and an increase in student achievement. At Osborne, we believe every student has value and deserves a fair opportunity in life, no matter their circumstance, and through this model, we are able to offer hope and a transformational educational experience.  

For more information about The Nest at Osborne High School, click here.

 

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