SCS working to keep gang violence out of classroom - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

SCS working to keep gang violence out of classroom

Posted: Updated:
  • SCS working to keep gang violence out of classroomMore>>

  • Get FOX13 Breaking News on your mobile device

    Get FOX13 Breaking News on your mobile device

    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
    Get breaking news alerts on your mobile device direct from the FOX13 news desk. On average, you could get as many as three to five alerts on a busy day, as the news merits. Just fill out the form below
    Get breaking news alerts on your mobile device direct from the FOX13 news desk. On average, you could get as many as three to five alerts on a busy day, as the news merits. Just fill out the form below
SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (FOX13) - Gang violence is not something that just threatens students on weekends. Sometimes off-campus fights and disagreements can spill into the hallways, putting all students at risk, even those not involved with gangs.

Shelby County Schools is working to keep gang violence out of the classroom, so students can focus on academics.

Student safety is not an area measured on state standardized tests, but it plays an important role in a student's academic achievement.    

"School is and should be the safest place for children to be," said SCS Safety Manager Ronald Pope, who has been working in legacy Memphis City Schools since 1995.

Pope is the man in charge of a program called "GRASSY," Gang Reduction Assistance for Saving Society's Youth.

"GRASSY is a gang reduction program," Pope said. :It's designed to prevent and help children who have the allure of gangs in their sights."

GRASSY is in 17 schools across the district and is in its sixth year in Memphis. The district works with partners outside of SCS to reach students in various ways, providing them tutoring, job training, counseling and various forms of encouragement.

"We don't operate in a vacuum," Pope said. "We don't operate in a silo. We work with the police department, the sheriff's officers, we work with mental health centers, we work with a plethora of people to help keep schools safe."

One of GRASSY's community partners is J.R. Futrell's "Young Man University," which is working with students through GRASSY at Northside High.

"Overall, we've had significant reduction in gang activities, especially at Northside," Futrell said. "We haven't had a gang fight. This going into our fifth year."

Futrell, Young Man University President, says the success at Northside High is not just something GRASSY or Young Man University should celebrate.

"Everyone feels a piece of that success, just as we feel the piece of the failure when a child is lost through gang violence or any other reason," Futrell said. "The community feels a sense of loss, so to the reverse of that to find success with them is to simply take part and get involved."

Gang intervention specialists are in the schools each and every day with GRASSY. They also  have after school programs and summer programs.

"What we do, we try to fulfill the belly needs, so the teacher can fulfill the brain needs," said Lonnie Gauldin, gang intervention specialist with Young Man University. "The belly needs are food, water, I want to know that I'm safe."

"That's what it's about," Pope added. "It's about having relationships with the students, so they will feel protected and safe themselves."

GRASSY has helped encourage several students to walk away from the gang life and walk across the stage to receive a diploma.

"I can't change children, I can simply empower them and I think when we think we can change them, then, that's already a bad way to enter the problem," Futrell said. "But I believe I can empower them."

Even when efforts to reach students enticed gang life fall short, at the very least Pope and his team members are able to empower all students in the classroom by making them feel safe at school, so they can focus on academics.

"Every week we meet," Pope said. "The division of security, we meet with the sheriff's department, we meet with our security personnel, and we all talk about things that are going on for the next week and strategize."

Click here to leave a comment on our Facebook page
Click here to comment on our Twitter


Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices