Prior to my internship at SCORE, I have spent the past two summers interning in Washington, DC, working on education and social policy advocacy at the national level. As a psychology and sociology major, I am most interested in how we can use social science to identify causes of inequality and inform the development of public policies that can produce more equitable outcomes for marginalized groups. Moving into my senior year, I sought to get more experience working with education policy, especially to see how the policies, guidelines, and recommendations produced out of DC connect with the work being done at the state and local level. As a Nashville native and graduate of Metro Nashville Public Schools, I was interested in getting involved with work related to reducing educational disparities in schools closest to home.

I was actually first exposed to SCORE during a Twitter chat hosted by my past internship when I found myself engaging with members of SCORE’s policy team. Seeing that SCORE was based in Nashville, I started to look at some of their work. Due to my interest in improving outcomes for students of color, I was especially drawn to their recent work related to teacher diversity, school discipline, health and education, and equity as it relates to accountability measures for ESSA. I applied to SCORE’s internship to get a chance to get involved with some of this work.

This semester at SCORE, my work has primarily centered on assisting with efforts related to the intersection of health and education. Working with members of the policy and research team, I have examined the relationship between health disparities and inequitable educational outcomes, thinking of ways in which schools can offer better health services to students who need them the most. This includes increasing the number of school nurses, increasing access to mental health care to assist students dealing with toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), ensuring access to nutritious meals, and promoting physical education. I have had the opportunity to assist with the development of SCORE’s health and education summit for next year, develop health indexes to assess school districts, and work on a policy memo outlining health and education outcomes in Davidson County.

Along with my primary assignments, I have been able to assist with work in other various areas, and have had the opportunity to experience several SCORE events, including the Tennessee Educator Fellowship convenings and the release of SCORE’s report on teacher preparation. What I have found to be most impressive about SCORE is its ability to bring various stakeholders to the table to discuss and build solutions, with its frequent convenings for education stakeholders and continual collaboration with various groups across the state.

This experience has enhanced my understanding of schools as places of support beyond their primary function of educating students. Schools are in the unique position to identify what students need and provide the resources and supports necessary for students’ social, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. This especially applies for students exposed to trauma and denied access to opportunity and resources outside of school. I have seen SCORE bring the necessary parties to the table to advocate best practices to support students and engage with teachers so they are well prepared to support students in their classrooms. I am definitely taking away a lot from my work at SCORE and the opportunity to learn from its great team.

SCORE’s internship program provides undergraduate students an opportunity to learn the historical context of K-12 public education in Tennessee, interact and learn from key stakeholders who are focused on improving student outcomes, and understand how policies translate into practice. Click here to learn more and apply to SCORE’s Undergraduate Internship.