22-Year MNPS Veteran Named Homeless Liaison of the Year
Catherine Knowles, HERO Coordinator, named Homeless Liaison of the Year by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
Release provided by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) has awarded their Homeless Liaison of the Year Award to Catherine Knowles, homeless education program coordinator of Metro Nashville Public Schools. Knowles will receive this honor during the 31st Annual NAEHCY Conference on November 3-5, 2019, at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC.
Knowles has served as the homeless education program coordinator of Metro Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tenn., for 22 years. During that time, The HERO Program for Families in Transition has grown from serving 200 students a year to more than 3,400. Knowles is recognized as a leader and advocate not only in Nashville, but also throughout the state of Tennessee.
She has recruited more than 25 community partners who support her McKinney-Vento Program and she currently serves on three state-wide councils under appointments from the Governor as a service provider representing the concerns of families who are experiencing homelessness.
She is a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Homelessness Planning Council, the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project Steering Committee, and Vice President of Unicycle — a local non-profit that provides gently used school clothing to students throughout her district of 86,000 students.
After more than two decades, Knowles maintains her energy and commitment to her work by pursuing new ways to broaden the reach of her program. One of her most recent endeavors has centered around working with the Tennessee State Legislature to pass new laws designed to support youth and young adults. She has also partnered with Purposity — a non-profit organization with an app and text messaging platform that connects community donors with the direct needs of students and families.
While Knowles often jokes that working as a homeless liaison is really the only job that she is qualified to do, it is apparent to all who know her that her life’s passion is in serving others, particularly the McKinney-Vento students in her community. As a native Nashvillan, Knowles involves the whole of her community into supporting her students and families. She is especially grateful to her husband, her two children, and her amazing network of friends and colleagues for their support of her work.
Every year there are more than 3,000 students experiencing homelessness enrolled in our district. These students and their families face many challenges yet they are incredibly resilient. The HERO Program and its community partners work diligently to offer support during this time of transition.
ABOUT THE NAEHCY HOMELESS LIAISON OF THE YEAR AWARD: NAEHCY Homeless Liaison of the Year nominees must be a homeless liaison in a school system. Each nominee must have a minimum of three years’ experience working as a homeless liaison. Nominations will be accepted by State Coordinators who are responsible for the administration of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program for their state.
ABOUT NAEHCY: The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) is a national membership association dedicated to ensuring educational equity and excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness. We provide technical assistance and share best-practice implementation strategies to build the capacity of individuals, agencies, and organizations to ensure the academic success of children. We support state and federal administrators, homeless liaisons, educators, community service providers, advocates, parents and youth. We collaborate with partners for policy change to ensure all children and youth succeed in school.