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Clay County’s Wilkinson Junior High Becomes Community Partnership School

Clay County Public Schools
Children’s Home Society Regional Director Garry I. Bevel speaks as Clay Superintendent Addison Davis sits to his right along with Sen. Rob Bradley, SJRSC President Joe Pickens, Baptist's Meghan Wilson and Wilkinson Principal Christina Cornwell.";

Middleburg’s Wilkinson Junior High School and the community surrounding it will soon have more health and academic resources thanks to a new strategy announced Wednesday.

Clay Superintendent Addison Davis said the school will be getting increased academic programming and tutoring after school in addition to on-site health and mental health services, mentoring and leadership activities.

“Wilkinson Junior High School was selected for so many different reasons after reviewing a number of analytics and one point being that 65 percent of the students in this community are considered economically disadvantaged,” Davis said.

Many families living along County Road 218 don’t have access to a doctor’s office, due to location or cost, he said. Additionally, the local unemployment rate of seven percent is almost double the state average of 3.6 percent.

The Community Partnership School model allows the four core partners to collaborate with local nonprofits, businesses, and the faith-based organizations to bring services and solutions into the school.

Clay’s partners include the Children’s Home Society of Florida, St. Johns River State College and Baptist and Wolfson Children’s hospitals.

Aside from the partners, the initiative is made possible by a $100,000 state grant administered by the University of Central Florida.

Sen. Rob Bradley (R- Fleming Island) said the legislature approved Clay Schools getting four times that amount next school year.

“So that we can take this, expand it both at this school and perhaps whatever schools Superintendent Davis identifies once we get our feet on the ground and get this going and started,” Bradley said.

Davis said the district is in the planning stage. Students, teachers, parents and community members will identify their primary needs and challenges of the area. The results of that assessment will determine the services and solutions that will be brought to the school whether that be dental care, mental health or anything else. Students will have access to the services while at school.

Those services will be free to students whether they’re insured, or not, as well as to the surrounding community, according to Davis.

“We’ll continue to engage our community to have well-planned activities, look at higher education and then look at community-wide arrangements and activities to extend to them,” he said.

Another component of this model is the focus on parental and family engagement.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.   

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.