Saltville Elementary School Featured in Upcoming Television Ad

Posted by Monica Hoel
Principal Mitzi Gates Frye is pleased for their good work for children to be highlighted in the commercial.

Watch for Mitzi Gates Frye on TV!

Mitzi is the principal at Saltville Elementary School, and her school is going to be featured in an upcoming commercial that will air across the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region.

STRONG Accountable Care Community (ACC)  is airing a commercial that features information about their ACC, and Saltville Elementary and  several other community organizations are expected to be seen in the commercial. Accountable Care Communities are forming around the country to provide a unique approach to wellness and health care that involves partnerships with local community agencies, schools, and, of course, health care providers.

Mitzi attended Emory & Henry for a year while working on her reading specialist degree, but when she switched her focus to leadership she had to transfer to Virginia Tech to finish. She had completed her undergraduate degree at Virginia Intermont – utilizing their adult education program, geared toward working adults that allowed her to attend classes in the evening. That was important to a woman of 26 who had 2 kids to take care of, and also a job. “My husband [Mark Frye, E&H ’89] and I were both working to make ends meet for our family. So those evening classes made all the difference.”

Mitzi speaks eloquently and passionately about her work. She says Saltville Elementary School is committed to being a “trauma-informed school.” In fact, she says this is something the Smyth County School Superintendent, Dr. Dennis Carter (E&H ’95) is insisting upon for their county schools. She believes strongly in this different approach to education. “We are learning how to educate the whole child. Fully 90% of our students at Saltville Elementary are considered ‘at-risk’—which basically means they are dealing with life at or below the poverty level. We understand now that living in poverty is traumatic. Far beyond the financial aspects, poverty can also mean an unstable family, domestic abuse, kids being raised by grandparents, no access to healthcare, exposure to drug abuse, and more.”

Photo of filming in progress for the upcoming television commercial.Photo of filming in progress for the upcoming television commercial.Some of the filming for the commercial took place in the school’s “calming room” – a room with happy murals, soft stuffed animals, and warm lighting. “It’s a place where kids can feel safe and relaxed.” The school also has a sensory room for kids with occupational and physical therapy issues.  Although Mitzi doesn’t exactly know what the commercial will look like, she says they did a lot of filming that showed interactions between students and teachers. “The point of this new approach is about forming relationships and providing strong mentors for our students. They need to know they have people who understand them and will help them.”

The idea of an Accountable Care Community is to bring together people who understand varied aspects of dealing with families (and kids) in crisis or on the verge of crisis. Mitzi admits this isn’t school the way many of us remember it, but she’s relieved that a fuller range of needs is now being addressed. “This is the way we should have been doing education all along. We should have been developing relationships. I’m glad it’s not like it used to be!”

  • Mitzi Gates Frye, former Emory & Henry Reading Specialist Student
“This is the way we should have been doing education all along.”
Mitzi Gates Frye
Former E&H Reading Specialist Student

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