UnifiEd will host an event this weekend to debut the first 28 short films in a series that tells the story of great things happening in Hamilton County public schools. The Video Launch Block Party will be this Saturday and will feature video screenings, games, interactive art projects, ice cream, music, and more in true block party style at UnifiEd’s offices from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Videos will continue being produced in the coming months to highlight the unique character of
each of Hamilton County’s public schools. The project expands on the Hamilton County Public
School Guide that the organization first published last year. The guide has been updated for 2017 and will be available on UnifiEd’s website on April 1.
“The first generation of our school guides provided information on all Hamilton County public
schools including demographics, test scores, and classroom offerings. They did a great job of
providing quantitative data, but we know numbers don’t tell the full story of these schools,” said
Jonas Barriere, UnifiEd executive director. “The video project is a way of telling stories and
highlighting achievements in our schools in a way that statistics don’t capture.”
UnifiEd partnered with Causeway to produce these videos. Battle Academy parent Katie Smith
sought a Causeway grant in 2016 to create a school guide featuring videos with behind-the-scenes insight into each school's culture, beyond just stats and test scores. Once she learned UnifiEd had already created a school guide, the two groups decided to join forces to create a more comprehensive guide series.
“One of our goals at Causeway is to create connections between passionate community members and local organizations who can help kick-start their ideas. We are so pleased with
the partnership that has formed between Katie’s idea to build a Chattanooga school guide and
the work UnifiEd is already doing in the community,” says Abby Garrison, Causeway executive
Many students who have had the opportunity to preview their schools’ films are enthusiastic
about the project and believe it will open the door to highlight what’s working well in their schools.
“These videos are a great way to showcase the amazing things happening in all of our public
schools,” says Avery Simmons, a CSAS senior. “So much attention is always paid to what isn’t
working well in our schools. As a student I am excited for our community to recognize and give
thanks to the students and teachers who work hard everyday to make our schools a great place
to learn and grow.”
D’Andre Anderson, a Central High School senior, says, “I really enjoyed watching the video for
the elementary school I attended. It encouraged me to be proud of where I came from as well as
appreciate the new opportunities available to students currently attending that school.”
While UnifiEd is seeking to transform the predominantly negative narrative surrounding our public schools, they are also hoping this project ignites the community to take action and become more involved in public education initiatives.
“We want community members to use the information in the School Guide and videos to gain a
realistic understanding of their public schools’ accomplishments, challenges, and needs for
support,” says Ashley Conrad, UnifiEd director of Policy and Research. “I hope these videos spur conversations and ultimately get more people engaged as advocates dedicated to ensuring all of our students have access to the resources they need to be successful.”
The Video Launch Block Party will be Saturday, April 1 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at UnifiEd’s office,
1609 McCallie Ave. The free, family-friendly event will include games, art projects, food, music,
and fun for all ages. For event details, visit the Facebook event page here