Correne Lynch-Fierro, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Little Elm High School in Little Elm, TX, tells about a young man who took his future into his own hands and graduated from high school.
I first met David after a recommendation to the Communities In Schools of North Texas program at Little Elm High School last year due to family conflict and attendance. David had been kicked out of his home due to a family conflict and as such had difficulty getting to school. I visited some various places, including his job, and I was able to eventually track him down and let him know someone cares whether he attended school or not.
David was already in his senior year, and through my meetings with him, I showed him how it was still possible to graduate if he was willing to work for it. We got him qualified in the Homeprogram which allowed him to get some extra support through the school and district if he should need it as well. I continued to meet with him regularly to ensure he felt supported.
After a few months, David again stopped attending school, and my attempts to locate him this time around were futile. At the beginning of this school year, I again made attempts to locate him but again to no avail.
This past week David found me to let me know that he had in fact graduated after enrolling in the District's Credit Recovery program. He further indicated that he was joining the Marine's and then planned to pursue college after that. He is hoping to serve as a role model to his younger siblings to show that it is possible to graduate and have a future despite having a few obstacles along the way.
While David certainly made the decision on his own to come back this year and finish school, it is good to know that I had a small impact on him as demonstrated by his desire to come and let me know he had graduated and allowing me to share in his success!
Jennifer Hughes, CIS North Texas Program Manager at DeLay Middle School in Lewisville, TX, writes about a very supportive teacher at her campus.
This month I would like to recognize a teacher, Monique Garza, for her constant support for Communities In Schools of North Texas and the CIS students at DeLay Middle School.
Ms. Garza has been a teacher at DeLay Middle School in Lewisville ISD for seven years and has supported Communities In Schools from the start. She knows about the resources that we offer our students and families and does not hesitate to bring a student by who needs this help.
She is one of the teachers who always volunteers at my events. In October she came to the DeLay Fall Carnival and took pictures of the event. She helps me with the CIS Christmas party by helping to translate and sign families in. This year she will help with the party and delivery of presents to students whose parents who are not able to attend. In February, she volunteered her Saturday afternoon and evening for 20 DeLay students and family members to do a walking tour of the University of North Texas followed by a women's and men's UNT Mean Green basketball game.
Ms. Garza is the eighth grade lead teacher and is my contact for anything eighth grade related. She helped to encourage students to join the new Igniting Minds program. Ms. Garza assists me with recruiting speakers and organizing the 8th grade Career Day.
At the end of the school year, the 8th grade students will donate their old uniforms to Communities In Schools. She runs this program with her students and allows me to keep the donations in her room through the summer.
Communities In Schools of North Texas at DeLay Middle School would not be as successful as it is without Ms. Garza's support.
Patricia Hernandez, CIS Site Coordinator at Hedrick Elementary in Lewisville ISD, writes about a student's social progress with the help of a fantastic coach.
This is T's first year at Hedrick Elementary. She was referred to the Communities In Schools 21st Century program by her 1st grade teacher so she could receive assistance in completing her homework and to provide her with the opportunity to increase her social skills. Working with T has been difficult. Some weeks she takes her homework home on Fridays so her Mom can work on the work with her throughout the week, leaving her lots of free time with her 21st Century Coach. Other weeks, it's a struggle to get her to concentrate on her homework or other fun academic activities Coach Becka, provides for her.
T's social skills are also a struggle. T wears a hearing aid, so when she purposely leaves her hearing aid in the classroom so she doesn't lose it or forget it at home, it makes it difficult for her to hear others. Sometimes other classmates have a hard time understanding her slightly slurred speech. T has also been known to purposely spill milk, spit on the floor or her desk, play with the bathroom soap and not follow directions.
Despite conferences with T's Mom and her teacher, Coach Becka and I were still having a tough time figuring out interventions that worked for her. It even got to the point where several of us were thinking that maybe 21st Century made it too long of a day for T, and she may have more success getting work done at home.
Coach Becka has been very patient and accommodating this entire time. One day she came to me saying that all the things she'd thought of and were suggested to her were not consistently working. Becka is currently a Special Education major at UNT. She reached out to one of her professors. Her professor provided her with some very simple paperwork, but documents that we didn't have.
Becka and I met with T and provided her the opportunity to give us feedback of her "good" and "bad" choices, as well as, things that she liked to do and could receive as rewards. Becka also created an entire system to track the behavior of all her students' behavior, not just T's. Students now receive a color-coded card to match their behavior for any given day. Depending on their behavior throughout the week, students receive an appropriate incentive.
It's been about 6 weeks since the new behavior incentive system was implemented, and overall T has shown great improvements in her behavior. The greatest improvement has been in her social skills. She has stopped spitting and purposely spilling her drinks. These improvements could have not been possible without everyone's involvement and T's effort.
Jennifer Hughes, Communities In Schools Program Manager at DeLay Middle School in Lewisville ISD, writes about a mentor and student who have bonded via common interests.
Brian Barbara has been mentoring his student Steely for a year and a half, and they were a great pair from the start. They bonded over their love for sports and have been able to develop a strong mentoring relationship from that.
Steely has grown and matured so much from mentoring. He used to be a frequent visitor to In-School-Suspension but has not been in ISS since they started meeting.
Their meetings are focused on goal setting and making good choices. Steely's dream is to play in Major League Baseball. Without discrediting this dream, Brian helped Steely research the average MLB player's career span, average salary, injuries etc. Brian is always telling Steely that there has to be a plan B and that his choices are what is going to get him there.
Brian is a great mentor and I hope that the pair can stay together until Steely graduates from high school. He really understands what Steely needs in their mentoring relationship.
Hope Williams, CIS North Texas Program Manager at Gene Pike Middle School in Northwest ISD, writes about the extraordinary bond that a mentor has formed with his student.
Carl McCarron is a mentor at Gene Pike Middle School. This is Carl's third year to mentor, and he has met with the same young man all three years. Carl never misses a day, and he is a very devoted mentor.
The week prior to Winter Break, Carl planned his visit like every week. He called me like he does every time to make sure his student was there at school. I told him that he was not and that he and I needed to talk because something had changed with his student. He learned that his student would have to complete the semester at another school.
Truth be told, his student had gotten into a little bit of trouble and would have to complete the remainder of the year at the alternative school. I spoke with Carl and met with his student. I learned that the student wished that Carl would still be able to meet with him. I learned that the weekly mentoring sessions meant a lot to him. I spoke with the principal at the alternative school, and she told me she thought it would be wonderful for Carl to continue mentoring the student there.
I quickly called Carl back and briefly explained the situation to him. He told me he wished he would have known this sooner. He told me that regardless of the trouble this youngster had gotten into, he would never give up on him. It was at that point that I really understood the bonds that mentors and students could form.
Carl has then since continued visiting this student on a weekly basis. Carl McCarron exemplifies what it means to be a mentor.