CIS of Chesterfield: Igniting Potential
Heidi, a first generation Latina student at Falling Creek Middle School, had the opportunity to meet and interact with author and illustrator Laura Lee Gulledge through a program site coordinator ,Kimberly Reynolds, coordinated. The program’s goal was to inspire students to work through personal struggles to develop self-confidence and achieve their dreams. As a result of the interactions, Heidi was one of five FCMS students whose artwork was selected to be published in an upcoming graphic novel. Ms. Reynolds was able to celebrate with her during school closure by bringing her a published copy of the book and some art supplies to foster her continued artwork. In speaking about the changes she saw in Heidi after these supports, Ms. Reynolds shared, “she is a much more confident person and recognizes how gifted she is in the arts. I know she will continue to pursue her artwork and have no reservations about her finding success in high school and beyond.”
CIS NOVA: Going Above and Beyond
When schools switched to online learning last spring, many students faced new challenges without Internet access at home. Although schools provided students with hotspot, site coordinator Madelyn Giblin knew that many of her students were still not logging on. After reaching out to families, Madelyn learned that they had never received their hotspots. She visited their apartment complexes to solve the puzzle and discovered that - unbeknownst to the families - the hotspots had been delivered to an Amazon locker. Several phone calls later, Madelyn secured the locker codes and tracked down the missing hotspots. She personally delivered five of them over the weekend to make sure her students could connect at the start of the next week. And sure enough, students logged in the following Monday, enthusiastically greeting each other after two months apart.
CIS of Petersburg: Making Connections
In the wake of Covid-related closures Jonathan Taylor, former CIS graduation coordinator at Petersburg High School (now site coordinator at Vernon Johns Middle School), pivoted big plans for the spring college and career fair he had organized. Scheduled for May 2020, he had secured over 20 colleges and universities as well 20 local employers to engage with students. Unwilling to give up on the major impact Jonathan expected the event to have for students, Jonathan decided to make the event virtual. While schools were closed and many other aspects of life began to come to a halt, Jonathan began to assemble a team to bring a virtual college fair to Petersburg High School. His perseverance paid off, and CIS of Petersburg held its first Virtual College Fair last August. The event welcomed nearly 50 Petersburg High School students who were able to hear presentations from 18 colleges and universities.
CIS of Southwest Virginia
Aimee Rasnick, site coordinator at Communities In Schools of Southwest Virginia, coordinates a Parent Honor Roll program at Washington Lee Elementary as a fun way to incentivize family engagement essential to elementary student success. Parents and caregivers were encouraged to choose two in-school engagement activities per nine weeks, as well as share responsibility for student attendance and maintain communication with school and CIS personnel. Every parent or caregiver who achieved “honor roll” status was included in a celebration breakfast and had a picture with their child posted on a school bulletin board. Overall, Parent Honor Roll was successful in incentivizing engagement with 150 (out of 200) families. It’s success inspired replication at Highland View Elementary School.
CIS of Richmond: Engaging Families
Parents Participating as Partners (P3) is an outreach program at Reid Elementary School in Richmond’s southside. For many families in the Latino community, Reid is the first point of entry into an American school experience. P3 draws parents into authentic relationships with the school through a bilingual site coordinator, who helps them navigate schools. P3 Site Coordinator Amanda Ketterlinus kicked off the school year with field trips for all parents and students in eight kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. This engagement allows her to learn the needs of each new class. The trips resulted in class parties delivered by parents, how-to videos on tackling homework help and a bilingual Facebook group for building community and sharing information. During the COVID-related school closures, this group became a critical tool for Amanda to connect with families and a platform for parents to support each other.
CIS of Hampton Roads: Building Bridges
Sunset joined the Communities In Schools of Hampton Roads (CISofHR) program her sophomore year at Hampton High School. She was a chronic walker of the halls, lacked motivation and frequently skipped the majority of her classes. Before her introduction to CISofHR, Sunset lacked direction and purpose and had a 1.8 GPA. She was frequently in the dean's office or placed in in-school-suspension for skipping. CIS helped her realize that the world was not against her and she had a trusted adult in her corner. The CISofHR office became her safe haven, a place where she would go to get away when the stresses of school was too much. It was in the office that she began to share the stories of trauma that she had experienced in her adolescence such as domestic violence and suicidal ideations. Her site coordinator paired her with a mentor --a CISofHR board member with a similar story. Other supports provided included mental health support, group support, and academic support. Sunset's classroom attendance increased, her negative behaviors decreased and she eventually made the honor roll. Sunset transformed from being in the dean's office for skipping class to being on the Dean's List for good grades. Sunset graduated in 2020 with a 3.8 GPA and was awarded a full academic scholarship to a local college a few hours from Hampton. She now FaceTimes her CISofHR site coordinator and CISofHR board member mentor regularly with updates.