By Yetta Lewis – Cofounder and CEO, Gestalt Community Schools in Memphis
A gestalt is a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
For a community to become a true gestalt, it should aim to integrate all of its parts. For example, its health care centers, its grocery stores, its schools, etc. When a community weaves these assets together, it can achieve far more than any one group could alone.
At Gestalt Community Schools, we continually look for opportunities to partner with members of our community, as these partnerships are essential for helping students succeed at their maximum potential.
According to a recent study conducted by the National Education Association, school leaders are beginning to realize they will not achieve true success in educating their students if they rely on their efforts alone. Rather, it demands a collaborative effort between educators, business leaders, families, and other stakeholders. Shared insights, knowledge, and experience will lead to a growing community of high-performing schools.
Closing the gap between health care and education
In May 2018, Gestalt purchased the Mendenhall Mall property located at the intersection of Mendenhall Road and Winchester Road. We saw potential in this promising area — potential to truly service our community. This purchase brought about Gestalt’s partnership with Christ Community Health Services — its Hickory Hill Health Center is located on the same lot as our Power Center Academy High School and new 9th Grade Academy.
Christ Community Health Services provides medical services to underserved families, and Power Center Academy families needed access to affordable and immediate health care. The partnership just made sense. The nonprofit provides a number of services for our scholars, teachers, and families — actively addressing health issues and serving as a resource for health education in our village.
For example, in February, the organization will celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month with our scholars by offering our entire student body on-site dental services — regardless of their ability to pay. Christ Community will accept insurance payments but will see any children without insurance, free of charge.