Hard Work Pays Off
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Written by Nkechi Chibueze   
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 18:33

Nkechi Chibueze, CIS North Texas Site Coordinator at Ginnings Elementary in Denton, TX, writes about the dedication of one of her CIS afterschool staff members.

ms yandyThis month I would like to highlight the diligent work of an Academic Enrichment Specialist. Yandira Teniro, known as "Ms. Yandy" to her students, began working with the CIS 21st Century after school program 3 years ago at Lee Elementary.  After graduating from college, she came back to work for Communities In Schools of North Texas and is now at Ginnings Elementary with the first grade and kindergarten students. I have to admit: since the first day of this school year the first grade and kindergarten students have been a challenge.  We had a lot of energetic students that could tire out the best principal!

Regardless of the concerns and complaints from others about the boisterous class, Ms. Yandy has patiently worked with the children, gaining their trust, and building a strict routine to for them to follow. Ms. Yandy is constantly working to improve the class. She tries out new ideas, and if they do not work, she moves on to the next idea, and she has slowly changed the classroom to a positive and happy environment!

Another thing that impresses me about Ms. Yandy is her determination to make sure all her students have completed the required homework. She will sit with all students and give them the attention they need while taking care of the whole class which is an amazing feat to watch.

Teachers are acknowledging Ms. Yandy's hard work. They tell me all the time how impressed they are with her classroom structure and the improvement of the students' behavior over time.

Lastly, I am happy to say, students in Ms. Yandy's class improve in their school work! A teacher told Ms. Yandy that two students who recently joined the CIS 21st Century program received perfect scores on their spelling tests for the first time ever! Wow!

I am in awe of the work Ms. Yandy has done in the first grade and kindergarten class and I am looking forward to seeing what she has in store for the future!

A Light in a Student's Life
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Written by Rebecca Page   
Thursday, 07 March 2013 19:45

Rebecca Page, CISNT Site Coordinator at Evers Park Elementary in Denton, TX, tells us about a volunteer who has become a light in a special education student's life.

Emilio Garcia and his menteeI have a special education student who has been in the Communities In Schools of North Texas after school program at Evers Park Elementary for years. He is a well-mannered student with a sweet spirit. This student knows about any and every ship in history. He shows a particular interest in the Titanic. His enthusiasm to study and talk about ships sometimes lead to some struggles in the classroom when he would try to socialize with other students.

I had a volunteer come in with a desire to tutor a special education student. Emilio Garcia is a student at the University of North Texas studying special education. I paired Emilio with this student, and I am so glad that the resulting bond has made a huge impact on this student. This student's mom called the day after their first meeting together and told me about how much he loved having someone take interest in him.

Not only did the mother commend Emilio for his efforts to relate to her student, but she also commended his tutoring abilities as her son began to grasp concepts that he was formerly struggling with. She also said that Emilio helped her son with his handwriting by showing him ways to hold the pencil to make his writing neater. Even though Emilio is here to help this student academically, he talked with this student about his interests in ships, and they even did research on books about ships.

I am so proud of Emilio Garcia for being a light in this student's life. I look forward to seeing this success story through.

A Chance to Give Back to Peers and Community
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Written by Holly Steward   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 14:43

CIS North Texas Program Manager Holly Steward writes about a former CIS student who has embraced the chance to give back to her peers and her community.

Northwest HS graduates
Holly Steward (third from left) with Northwest High School seniors from the class of 2011.

This month's student brag from Northwest High School is a little different than usual. It is about a previous CIS student who graduated two years ago. Gabrielle was a student who was extremely involved in CIS North Texas at NHS for her last two years of high school. She worked very closely with me and her mentor. She was a very high achieving student who excelled in her classes and was ranked in the top 40 of a class of over 800 students. Though she faced many obstacles in her home life she was determined to excel in college and pursue her dreams of visiting another country for mission work.

Since graduating from high school, Gabby has kept in touch with me and has volunteered her time to help CIS North Texas at Northwest HS on several occasions. I have had the privilege of writing a multitude of recommendation letters for her for scholarships and jobs. She ended up gaining scholarships and financial aid to attend the University of North Texas for the first year for free. During that time she gain the opportunity to go to Honduras with a campus church group and this past fall she traveled to Spain through a study abroad program offered through UNT.

Although Gabby has gained many successes since her time as a CISNT student she has also faced many trials. In November her mother passed away due to illness. Gabby left Spain for a week to return home and plan her mother's funeral as well as support her younger sister. During this time I had the opportunity to meet with her and her family and offer support during a devastating time.

Since then, Gabby has completed her study abroad program and has returned to UNT. She has expressed her gratitude to me on several occasions and has always told me how thankful she was for the CIS program and the support she has received all these years. It wasn't until January that I truly knew how much she appreciated the CISNT organization and how passionate she was about our mission. I was informed that Gabby received a job as an Academic Enrichment Specialist 2 with CISNT's 21st Century after school program. I was overwhelmed with pride and excitement for Gabby to have the opportunity to pay it forward. Her story brings tears to my eyes and happiness to my soul. This is what CISNT is truly about, and I'm so thankful to be able to see her success story unfold in front of me. She truly has come FULL CIRCLE.

A Volunteer with Multiple Roles
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Written by Jennifer Hughes   
Friday, 01 March 2013 23:00

Jennifer Hughes, Program Manager at DeLay Middle School in Lewisville, TX, writes about a volunteer who has filled multiple roles for Communities In Schools of North Texas.

Laura and JessicaLaura Bakkan is a first year mentor, but has been a supporter of Communities In Schools of North Texas for several years now.

Laura started her relationship with CIS North Texas through our Dressed to Learn program. She lead the committee of local PTA members to help facilitate fundraisers and clothing drives for schools in the Lewisville Independent School District. She also was the lead contact if we needed help purchasing clothes. I could call Laura with my needs and she would have uniforms in my office within a week or 2. I'm certain she spent many hours and miles in her car going from store to store and then from school to school delivering clothes. Before she stepped down for this position, she helped organize the new Dress to Learn Clothes Closet at Central Elementary.

In March of 2011, Laura joined the Board of Directors of Communities In Schools of North Texas to help provide stewardship over our agency. However, even though she oversaw the agency on a macro level, she was still willing to jump in the trenches with CIS Program Managers whenever we needed help.

For the past two years, Laura has also been a tremendous help with my Holiday Assistance program. She has adopted students and helped me sort and organize the presents.

This school year, Laura really wanted to be a mentor. She had seen many mentors and students during her time DeLay Middle School and Central Elementary and wanted to be a part of this program. I was able to pair her with Jessica, a sixth grade student who needed a little extra help with her academics. They have bonded quickly and Jessica is very excited every time Ms. Laura comes to see her. They have been reading many books and playing games together. Laura was a former teacher and has been encouraging Jessica in her academics.

Recently Laura told me that she and some friends were hosting a "friendraiser" for CISNT, called What WISE Women Want. They will be having an auction for handbags that will help raise money to purchase caps and gowns for our graduating seniors.

I am so thankful that Laura Bakken is involved with Communities In Schools of North Texas!

A Maturing Attitude
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Written by Hope Williams   
Thursday, 28 February 2013 22:40

Hope Williams, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Gene Pike Middle School in Justin, TX, writes about a student determined to change her perception of herself through a positive attitude and hard work.

CiaraCiara is an 8th grade student at Pike Middle School in the Northwest Independent School District. Due to medical reasons, Ciara could no longer participate in athletics. The counselors gave her the option to be an office aide. She decided that was something she was interested in, and they assigned her to the Communities In Schools office.

Ciara has worked in the CIS room every morning since September. She came into this position with a hard working attitude and has not faltered once. She has completely reorganized the room to her liking and has developed systems that have helped this program run very smoothly. When students come in during first period for help, she is eager and willing to assist them.

Ciara's attitude here at Pike Middle has not always been the best. She came to this school in the middle of her 7th grade year due to a major move that she had no control over. She had a rough first school year which unfortunately gave hers a reputation that she is determined to change. Despite all the negative perceptions that she is dealing with, she maintains a positive attitude and understands that her perception is the consequences for her past actions. Aside from giving back to the Pike Middle community, she also participated in my Homework Club and a girl's group to help her build up her confidence and self-esteem. In November, teachers and staff began really noticing a difference in both her attitude and academic grades.

Ciara has become a big part of the CIS Program here at Pike Middle School and she has become a role model for students looking to use their free time by volunteering. She has never failed to complete a task given to her. In addition to her hard work for Communities In Schools of North Texas, her attendance and grades have also come up. It is easy to see why Ciara has earned the CIS Student of the Month Award. I am very proud of this young lady and the mature attitude that she has maintained. Watching her grow has been such a privilege.

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