Community Partnership Spotlight: Buena Vista Elementary and Parallon

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Metro Schools partners with businesses and community organizations across the city to provide supports and services for its students. The district is so thankful to have these partnerships to help better meet the needs of MNPS students - inside and outside of the classroom.

Parallon, a healthcare company, began its partnership with Buena Vista Elementary School in 2016, and has provided a variety of services to students including mentoring and tutoring programs, supporting special events and conducting fundraisers.

Check out this interview with Ryann Schneider, senior counsel at Parallon, and Myra Taylor, principal at Buena Vista Elementary, about their partnership:

How did Parallon's partnership with Buena Vista begin?

Schneider: In 2016, we moved our Parallon corporate offices to Capitol View.  In connection with the move, Parallon immediately looked for ways to engage in community support with our new north Nashville neighbors. Buena Vista’s Community Achieves coordinator, Megan McGuire, welcomed us to the neighborhood and took time to educate our Caring for the Community team on the needs of the Buena Vista students and surrounding communities. We saw immediate synergies in how we could support the great work of Buena Vista and its Community Achieves Strategic Plan. We worked to build a deep and connected engagement with Buena Vista that included day-to-day activities as well as targeted support for strategic school initiatives and events. Our working relationship is that of any good neighbors – we are here to help each other grow and flourish – especially in times of need.

What kind of services does Parallon provide Buena Vista students?

Taylor: Parallon really does it all! They do drives for the school to help procure needed items like school supplies, school uniforms, winter clothing and more. Additionally, they provide volunteers for enrichment and academic programs, including Lunch Buddies, Reading Buddies and math tutors. They provide critical volunteers to school events, and have sponsored exciting field trip opportunities, including a trip to the US Space and Rocket Center for 3rd grade students. Additionally, they participate in Staff Appreciation events, including an end-of-year luncheon for teachers. Parallon truly provides wrap-around services for Buena Vista and assists in meeting our most crucial needs.

Why did Parallon want to get involved with Buena Vista?

Schneider: We could see the deep commitment Buena Vista had to serving as a central point of service for their students, families and the surrounding community.  The Community Achieves Strategic Plan for Buena Vista outlined so many services designed to improve the lives of those in our community both inside and outside the walls of the school.  Their teams were really looking at the needs of the students and families in a holistic and meaningful way. We knew we wanted to be a part of that good work.

Why did Buena Vista choose Parallon as a community partner?

Taylor: Buena Vista and Parallon chose each other! Parallon's mission of improving human life in the community makes it a perfect fit for community school work. Being a school partner is more than just focusing on the students - it encompasses students, families and an entire community. Students thrive when they are a part of healthy, safe communities and that is the work that Buena Vista and Parallon are doing together: strengthening the supports for families in our North Nashville community. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that impacts all of us together.

What changes have you seen in students since this partnership began?

Taylor: Parallon is a known-name at Buena Vista. Students know that Parallon is there for support in every way. Students know they have the resources at school that they need to learn - including school supplies, backpacks, school uniforms and more. Our students absolutely love the relationships they have with the volunteers from Parallon. They can't wait to see their Lunch Buddy from week-to-week, or talk to their Reading Buddy about how they've grown their reading level. The relationships are so important to our school culture because our students know that people in the community care about them and are cheering them on in the classroom and beyond.

What benefits does Parallon get from this partnership?

Schneider: The benefits Parallon gets from the Buena Vista partnership far outweigh the financial contributions, time and talents we contribute. We greatly value the time we spend with the students and staff at Buena Vista! Parallon employees come back from service engagements with the school reenergized – we can see the direct impact on the lives of those in our communities as we fulfill academic and social needs. This work also gives us the opportunity to share experiences and use talents together as a team in a different way than our day-to-day operational relationships. It helps us see the best in each other and strengthens our organization as a whole.

Why is it important for businesses to get involved in public education?

Schneider: Public schools are uniquely positioned to provide insight into the current needs of the community, and to connect many families with a wide range of resources and support. Many families that may not be comfortable approaching a non-profit or community center are open to receiving assistance in a school setting because the school is already a part of their family’s day-to-day support system. Our schools shape the future of our communities; the investment a business makes in public education has an enormous, immediate impact, but also blossoms to improve our city in future generations.

Taylor: There is no better investment a business can make than an investment in local public education. By partnering with a school in their community, a business makes a commitment to those students, families and the neighborhood that they are invested in their success, and the success of a future Nashville. These students are our future city leaders, and the time and energy that businesses pour into students now will shape our city moving forward. Additionally, a business/school partnership creates a sense of community - the idea that we are all in this together and that success is celebrated collectively. The relationships formed between a business and a school, and the work they can do together, makes for a powerful ROI for the city of Nashville (and beyond).