Written by: Nkechi Chibueze
Created: 30 October 2013

Marissa CuetlachNkechi Chibueze, Site Coordinator at Ginnings Elementary in Denton, TX, brags on her youngest volunteer at her campus.

Each school year, the Ginnings Elementary 21st Century program has the privilege of gaining wonderful  volunteers who take the time out of their schedule each week to tutor and read to students. Usually, our volunteers are college aged or older, but this semester, I was pleasantly surprised when our program gained our youngest volunteer ever.

Marissa Cuetlach is an 8 year old student and the daughter of Ginnings Elementary’s first grade teacher Ms. Cuetlach. Marissa told me that she would love to help the kindergarten and 1st grade students of the Communities In Schools 21st Century program with math and reading, and I happily agreed. For past few weeks, Marissa has been coming to class to tutor help students with math homework. Towards the end of programming, Marissa gathers all the students together to read aloud a book of their choice. The children have really enjoyed having Marissa in the classroom!

It is refreshing to watch Marissa at work because she has strong leadership skills for a child her age. She is also kind, patient and respectful to the students she helping. She processes a lot of the great attributes that makes a successful teacher (I wonder where she got it from?). It is a pleasure to have her around! When asked why she decided to volunteer, she answered “I have a lot of math going on in my brain, and I need to share it was others.”

I am glad Marissa decided to share her math with our students at Ginnings Elementary.

Written by: Holly Steward
Created: 02 July 2013

Holly Steward, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Northwest High School, writes about a CIS student who has participated in a variety of CIS activities throughout the year.

Jorge and his mentorJorge has been a part of the Communities In Schools of North Texas program since he was in 2nd grade. He will be a senior at Northwest High School next year. Throughout this past school year, Jorge has been involved in the CIS program in a variety of ways. He had a mentor, attended field trips, participated in lunch groups and was extremely helpful in Summer Camp. Jorge spends a lot of time helping take care of his younger brothers and his mother. There are times when food is scarce in their home, and Jorge works part-time jobs to support the family's needs.

Through it all, he was able to find time to give back to younger kids who are in similar situations by being a summer camp mentor. During the 2 weeks of CISNT's summer camp, he worked closely with the elementary and middle school kids by providing them support during activities, playing games, and being a role model. As a CIS Program Manager, it has been a wonderful experience to watch Jorge grow into a responsible young man who is determined to give back to others.

Written by: Dana Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Created: 30 July 2013

We have some exciting news to share with you. The award-winning magazine, Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), has taken a closer look at the effectiveness of Communities In Schools, detailing how our national network mixes the hard data of our research and evaluation with the soft skills of our caring site coordinators to empower students to achieve.

We would love it if you would take some time to hear how SSIR recognizes our hard work and dedication to students across the nation.  http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/keeping_kids_in_school

As Communities In Schools President Dan Cardinali explains, “We train our site coordinators the way you’d train a doctor as a diagnostician, to work on both prevention and intervention.” That attention to detail and careful orientation we provide our staff here at Communities In Schools of North Texas – last school year we helped more than 4,000 kids stay in school.

We want to thank you for your continued commitment to Communities In Schools of North Texas. We encourage you to share the article with family, friends and your social network, so they can see the type of organization you support. And, as always, you can keep in touch with us on our website at www.cisnt.org and our Facebook page:  www.Facebook.com/CISNorthTexas.

Dana Smith
Chief Executive Officer

Written by: Patricia Hernandez
Created: 14 October 2013

Coach Myrna and her student GPatricia Hernandez, Communities In Schools of North Texas Site Coordinator at Hedrick Elementary in Lewisville, TX, writes about the connection a new CIS Coach has made with her student.

The current program year will be full of new staff members, known as Coaches, at Hedrick Elementary school's CIS 21st Century After-School Program. There are currently 7 Coaches on the 21st Century team, 5 of whom are new. Some coaches have been in this role for  less than one month. As daunting as it is to be a new staff person in the CIS 21st Century Program, I am confident in these Coaches' skills. Although it's fairly early into the school year, I am already seeing glimpses of why these individuals were chosen to be a part of the Hedrick Elementary Team.

One such insight was hearing Coach Myrna share a student interaction with the rest of team. On her second day on the job, Coach Myrna noticed that G, a 4th grader attending his 2nd year of 21st Century, was continuously acting up. The other veteran Coaches and I also noticed a change in G's behavior, but we hadn't been able to figure out just why or what we could do to get him back on the right track.

Without hesitation, Coach Myrna took it upon herself to talk with G one-to-one. In talking with him, he opened up to her saying that recently classmates had been telling him he was dumb and that "all Black people were dumb." He told her since he was dumb there was no purpose in him participating in any of the afterschool educational enrichment activities. Coach Myrna asked him to describe the current President of the United States. In describing President Obama, Coach Myrna helped G to make positive correlations between himself and the President. Coach Myrna continued to encourage G to remain positive and believe that he is a smart student.

The entire team was touched by Coach Myrna's story, but Coach Crystal took it a step further. The next day she brought G a list of at least 20 African-American individuals that were successful. The list included inventors, politicians, actors, etc.

Since then, G's behavior has continued to improve. I now see him reverting back to the positive, helpful, respectful student he was last school year. Not only has this helped G, Coach Myrna, and the entire team make a connection, it has also led to the creation of the Culture Club. During Culture Club, students research a variety of cultures, including their own, so they can take pride in what it means to be a part of their culture and learn to embrace other students' cultures.

Written by: Lizet De Rojas
Created: 09 October 2013
Lizet De Rojas and her students

Lizet De Rojas, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Lake Dallas Elementary in Lake Dallas, TX, writes about the impact that CIS has had in her community.

Communities In Schools was welcomed to Lake Dallas Elementary this past January. In the last 10 months that we have been able to serve the Lake Dallas community, we have been able to make a great impact. Last year, we served a total of 87 students in our case management program. This school year I am already at 46 students enrolled, and it's only been the first 6 weeks of school!

Lake Dallas ISD already had some programs in place to help our families. Communities In Schools was able to come in and bring in more ideas and man-power to make these programs even better. Some of the programs we have been able to work on so far this year are Food 4 Kids, Lake Dallas Elementary Clothes Closet and the Parenting Room.

In our Food 4 Kids program we are currently serving 42 students. This program provides low income students with a backpack full of snacks for them to have over the weekend. Every other Wednesday I travel to the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas and pick up boxes of food. The food is then hanged up on numbered hooks, each hook belonging to each student enrolled in this program. The students then stop by on Fridays before school is out and pick up their bag for the weekend.

Our LDE Clothes Closet has been a work in progress. With the help of staff members and volunteers we have been able to have all the clothes accessible to any family in need. Families are welcomed to go in the clothing closet during school hours and pick out anything they need for their family.

The Parenting Room is a new project that Dr. Denise Evans-Jackson and I have been working on. Our goal is to have increase parent involvement in their child's education. Parents are able to come into the parent room and sign up for a "library card'. This card gives them access to books in English and Spanish for them to read to their child(ren) or for themselves. We have also set up the "Tree of Knowledge" where parents are able to get tips on how to work with their student, different resources and any other important information in both English and Spanish.

I work directly with students during lunch time. In the beginning of the school year, lunch groups are set up based on the student's grade level. When we meet for lunch group, we focus on different topics, ranging from character building, dealing with stress, self-esteem, study skills and anger management. I also make myself available throughout the day. Students know that my room is always open for them. They know that my room is their safe room where we can discuss anything they want and where they can come for help.

I am very glad to see that our students and families really do know that Communities In Schools is here for them. For many of these students and families, CIS is their only support system, their only listening ear, their only safe place and their only source of help. I believe the Lake Dallas is a community and Communities In Schools can partner together to bring much needed resources into the school setting. I am very glad to work for such a wonderful organization that is here for the students and their families!

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