Written by: Kristen Hollister
Created: 18 March 2014

Kendall's wordsI would like to brag on Kendall, a fourth grade girl that I mentor at Rockbrook Elementary. We've met together one-on-one about six times since I began my internship in January. When I first met Kendall, she was quiet and did not have much expression. I asked her to tell me three good things about herself, and she would tell me she didn't know any.

Kendall has had to grow up fast and is very mature for her age. As we continued to meet, she has slowly opened up to me more. However, she still would never answer my question of what she liked about herself.

Since one of the things Kendall was targeted for was self-esteem building, I did some research on an activity I could do with her. I found an idea to put words on a board that could describe her. I found a list of words and put them on a table for her to choose from. I didn't know if she would find this activity fun or stimulating in any way, and I thought she might just pick negative words.

To my surprise, with a smile on her face, Kendall picked around fifteen words. I could tell this is how she saw herself. I was very excited to see her identify positive qualities about herself. It's amazing how a simple activity can help a child's view of themselves be brought to the surface.

Written by: Lauren Miller
Created: 11 November 2013

Kyle FLauren Miller, CIS North Texas Site Coordinator at Oak Point Elementary in Oak Point, TX, writes about a student's progress in homework.

Kyle is a 5th grade student at Oak Point Elementary and enrolled in the Communities In Schools ACE (After-school Centers on Education) program. He was referred for the program to gain academic support in Math and Reading. Kyle is a very fun and outgoing student that typically follows directions and finds a way to enjoy every single aspect of school and Club ACE.

Recently, Kyle's mom shared with me that she is very impressed with the mark that the Club ACE program has made on him. She explained that he is more responsible about completing his homework and takes the initiative to make sure he does what is required of him. With much enthusiasm, she shared with me that she just sees a total difference in her son because of the Club ACE program.

Additionally, Kyle informed me this week that he completed his homework over the weekend so that he would not have to miss any enrichment club time. In the Club ACE program, if a student does not complete their homework during homework time, the student must report to Homework Club instead of Art, Theater, Sports, etc. So, Kyle took it upon himself to work hard for two hours over the weekend to get as much homework done as he could for the week so that he can enjoy enrichment.

I was thrilled to hear that a student was engaged in school work over the weekend because he was eager to participate in Club ACE activities and eager to share his news! It certainly brought a smile to my face that Kyle took the initiative to get a head start and participate proudly in enrichment during Club ACE.

Written by: Patricia Hernandez
Created: 17 March 2014

Valentines iPod CandyCoach Laura has only been with the Communities In Schools 21st Century after-school program a few short months, but she has made such a positive impact in a short amount of time. Despite currently leading a group of kids of varying grade levels, with the majority of students speaking Spanish, Coach Laura has persevered; she says she loves the challenge and the skills that students teach her!

From Day one, Coach Laura has been prepared to lead her students with fun, unique activities. She usually researches and develops these activities on her personal time outside of work. She's introduced her students to the creative, fun poetry of Shel Silverstein, author of the poetry series, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Students have fun "ooing and awwing" at Shel's poems, which are wildly imaginative and sometimes grotesque. After her group reads poems together, Coach Laura has them visualize and draw how things would change if they were the main character in the poem.

To learn math, Coach Laura created a 'duck, duck, goose' math version game. Students first practice various multiplication tables, then while in a circle, Coach Laura works her way through various multiplication variables. Students go around numbering off in a circle, if they are working on their "5" tables, then each student that is a multiple of 5 has to sit down. The students progressively count off faster, adding to the excitement that students love.

For Valentine's Day, Coach Laura had students make their own candy iPod! It was a very unique project and they had a blast.

Whether it's working through homework, crafts or teaching students new soccer drills, Coach Laura gives 110% everyday building positive relationships with all the students she interacts with.

Written by: Julie Redus
Created: 06 November 2013

Julie Redus, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Lakeland Elementary in Lewisville, TX, brags on a refugee student who struggles with illness but still wants to go to school.

FarFar is a second grade student at Lakeland Elementary. She is a sweet girl with a courageous spirit. Far and her family are Christian Chin Refugees, who arrived in Texas from a Malaysia Refugee Camp in October of 2011. Adjusting to life in the United States was difficult, but their family stood strong in their faith, and worked hard to achieve in school and their home life.

I met Far last year in my first year as CIS Program Manager at Lakeland. She was one of the first students that I worked with. She was recommended to CIS for academic support and supportive guidance. Within the first month of school, she became very ill and missed many days of school. This became my primary focus of support.

In October of 2012, Far was diagnosed with T-cell Leukemia, and began treatment. This was a great shock and struggle for her family. Not only was their youngest child very ill, but it was overwhelming for them to understand this process in English. While Far was admitted to the hospital undergoing treatments, her parents were struggling to keep both jobs and care for two other siblings at home, driving to Dallas to be with her, and learn the "American" hospital process.

Far and her family never gave up hope. They stayed strong in their faith, and worked hard every day. It was a trying year with hospitalization, treatment, and family struggles. I would visit Far when she was in the hospital and helped her to keep in contact with her friends from school and support her during this time. Far made it through her treatments and was homebound for the remainder of the school year. My hope was for Far to be healthy enough to return to school this year. She said she missed her friends, teachers and even the classroom setting!

I am pleased to say that Far walked through the Lakeland Elementary doors as a second grade student this year and has enjoyed being at school every day since! I look forward to this year with her! She is such a sweet and humble little girl, and it is a pleasure to work with her and her family every day! I am looking forward to having a celebration for her when she can officially say: "I beat cancer!"

Written by: Wendy Navarro
Created: 05 March 2014

Michael works on writing his name with the help of a CIS tutorMichael is a kindergarten student at Justin Elementary who was referred to CIS for academics. He was not performing at grade level expectations. When I first started meeting with Michael, I immediately noticed he did not believe in himself and what he was capable of doing. I could tell his self-esteem was low, and he did not trust many adults including me. We started working on learning the alphabet and then slowly moved on to sight words and reading.

At first Michael did not like coming to my classroom because he knew he would have to work on all of these academic skills, and it was difficult for him. But slowly Michael started to see how he was learning and retaining many skills. I could tell he was more confident when he started to come to my classroom with a smile on his face.

Michael has made huge improvements in his academics and self-esteem. He still struggles compared to his peers, but he now feels confident and participates more without hesitating. I am so proud of Michael, and I love working with him because I can see changes in his self-esteem and his attitude towards learning and trying his best. He truly has come a long way, and I enjoy bragging about him to other staff members at my Justin Elementary.

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