The recent Book Fiesta program for R.E.A.C.H. was held at Nashville’s Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School and proved to be a community jewel. Marcia Northern is the proud principal and is accompanied by a well-rounded and supportive staff. Parents and guardians’ accompanied the children, as a nourishing and festive Mexican meal and healthy snacks were served to everyone.
General Sessions Court Judge Rachel L. Bell facilitated and spoke to the eager audience and graciously took photographs afterwards. REACH (Reaching Every Aspiring Child’s Horizon) is a preventive justice program founded by Judge Bell with the General Sessions Music City Community Court, Division VIII, in conjunction with the Bordeaux North Nashville Literacy Partnership (BNNLP).
The BNNLP this year was held at the Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School, 18th Ave. Participants included: the Family Enrichment Center, the Bordeaux North Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Ring the Bell Foundation, Inc.
“This has been an exciting summer for us and we are happy to report that we were able to double our participation this year from 26 kids in 2016 to 50 kids,” said Bell. “REACH’s charge and mission is to do all it can to help break the playground-to-prison pipeline, and literacy is the foundation for our success.”
“I am so grateful that our school was able to host the R.E.A.C.H. Summer Literacy Program this summer,” said Principal Northern. “Reading takes us places we may never go, so I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to grow our community of student’s in the area of reading as well as encouraging a love for reading here at Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School.”
The General Sessions Music City Community Court was founded by Judge Bell in 2012. Over the years she has worked diligently on creating MNPS programs to swim upstream and work on programs to give children and young adults more experience to impact their lives positively. REACH is a summer literacy program for first through fourth graders. Other preventive justice programs are the FUTURE internship program for fifth through 12th grade and ALIVE @ 25, a student driver class teaching students ages 15-25 about the rules of the road and assisting with avoiding fatalities.
The GSMCC conducts Saturday dockets that also bring ‘expungement clinics’ to the community partnering with the Tennessee Administrative Office of Courts and its Faith and Justice Alliance initiative for better access to justice. The Community Court mission is to focus on preventive and diversionary justice initiatives to bridge the gaps prevalent by creating justice reform efforts for restoration and rehabilitation.
Judge Rachel believes her involvement and visibility in the community-at-large ‘off the bench’ is just as important as her commitment to service on the bench.
“Justice does not stop at the courthouse steps,” said Judge Bell.
REACH is one of Bell’s community programs targeted to empower Nashville, one student at a time. Reading is an eternal key to success and one major stepping stone to individual and overall success in life.