ASHLEIGH STARNES | JUNE 10, 2019
On June 6th, our Steering Committee visited Hollis Innovation Academy – one of our Standing with Our Neighbors™ schools – to learn more about the work we’re doing at the intersection of health, housing, and intimate partner abuse.
It’s summer: the students are on break, and the school is undergoing heavy renovations. Last Thursday, a group of AVLF staff, Board members, and Steering Committee members visited the empty Hollis Innovation Academy for a tour of the facilities and services available to students and their families during the school year.
Led by Sr’Lis Powell, Hollis’s Parent Liaison, and Shirkia Spearman, Student Support Coach with Communities in Schools, the tour focused on the creative solutions that Hollis Innovation Academy has implemented to help their students thrive.
Dr. Diamond Jack, Hollis Innovation Academy
In honor of National Support Public Education Day, we'd like to introduce you to Hollis Innovation Academy and the incredible way they're shaping the lives of tomorrow's leaders. In Atlanta’s Westside where Hollis is located, one out of four children is homeless and 100% qualify for a free lunch program. But their principal, Dr. Diamond Jack, won’t let anything hold them back. “What I want to communicate to our kids is that you are a beautiful people, you are capable of so much, and I want you to shock the world.” #GreatnessLivesHerePosted by Greatness Lives Here on Monday, July 30, 2018
Hollis Innovation Academy opened in the fall of 2016. We currently have two staff members working on site: Staff Attorney Erik Provitt and Community Advocate Shameka Love. Together, Erik and Shameka provide Westside community members with eviction defense, emergency assistance, and referrals to wraparound services in the neighborhood.
The tour was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Deputy Director Michael Lucas. James Tomlin of CHRIS 180 joined Powell and Spearman, along with an AVLF client who spoke about the hazardous housing conditions she experienced.
“I know Johnny’s mom is looking for a job and can’t afford rent,” said Spearman. “So it’s a little more than Johnny putting his head down in class.”
Spearman shared how student behavioral problems and academic performance often points to difficulties at home.
“I know Johnny’s mom is looking for a job and can’t afford rent,” said Spearman. “So it’s a little more than Johnny putting his head down in class. If you don’t find out why the kids are doing the things they’re doing, they’ll never be successful.”
At AVLF, we work with organizations like CHRIS 180 and Communities in Schools to bring vital legal and social assistance to the community. When families have safe, stable, and healthy housing, the students can thrive.
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As AVLF’s Communications Manager, Ashleigh works in website content development, social media outreach, and various other forms of communication with our clients, volunteers, and supporters.
Ashleigh is ever-eager to share the remarkable stories of our work, and the impact of AVLF’s staff and volunteers on our community.
Before joining AVLF, Ashleigh was a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey. She holds a BA in English and Linguistics from the University of Georgia. She is also a performance artist, and can occasionally be seen performing movement pieces, poetry, and combinations of the two around Atlanta and beyond.