In partnership with Communities In Schools of Mid-America, Growing Together works with local schools to place CIS Site Coordinators (SCs) on-site. These SCs connect with students and provide them with community resources and support that aid in the students’ success. These resources include everything from tutoring, attendance, and grade incentives, and help with college applications to providing basic food and clothing necessities. As the school year comes to a close, we are looking back on the successes made over the past year and celebrating the impact these site coordinators make.
*Sam is a senior at a local high school. Since she is the oldest female child in her family, she was often given the responsibility of babysitting her younger siblings and cousins. She frequently had to stay home and miss school in order to help her mother care for the younger children. Because of her absences, she was failing several courses and when she did attend school, she skipped most of her classes. Before the site coordinator connected with her, she was on the verge of dropping out.
After meeting with Sam, our SC was able to help her enroll in a virtual schooling program that would allow her to gain the credits she needed for graduation. Within two weeks of being enrolled in virtual schooling, Sam raised her grades, finished her credit recovery, and was accepted to Tulsa Community College (TCC). She is now spending her last few weeks preparing to graduate from high school in May and enter TCC in the fall. With continued support from CIS staff, counselors, and social workers, Sam was able to achieve her high school diploma, enroll in higher education, and move towards a brighter future.
*Mariana is a fourth-grade student at a local elementary school. She has struggled with reading for many years, despite the efforts of her teachers to help her. Mariana’s mother worried that she would have to repeat the fourth grade because her reading skills were so far behind. Mariana worked hard to improve her reading skills but earned a D grade in reading at the end of the second quarter of the school year.
In the beginning of the third quarter, Mariana’s SC was able to match her with a volunteer reading tutor that helped her with her schoolwork. In present day, Mariana currently has a B grade in her reading course. Mariana’s confidence has grown exponentially, and she will be ready to enter the fifth grade in the fall.
*Valeria, a local high school student, was referred to her school’s SC by the in-school suspension (ISS) teacher after skipping class multiple times. The ISS teacher told the SC that Valeria talked about how hard things were at home and that she needed extra support. After meeting with the SC, Valeria expressed interest in entering the medical field after graduating. Due to her absences from class, however, Valeria was at high risk of dropping out. After a few weeks of meeting with her SC, Valeria agreed to work with her to reach her post-graduation goal.
Valeria struggled with many things, including getting to school on time and finding a group of good friends. She began attending the CIS group, even as her negative behaviors continued. After winter break, she returned to school at the encouragement of her SC. Her SC also arranged for tutoring for Valeria to help her in the classes she was struggling in. Her grades improved, she stopped skipping class, and she began to trust that her SC could really help her. For the first time in several semesters, Valeria has not been in ISS and continues to improve every day.
*Maggie is a first-grade student at a local elementary school. Her local SC connected with her during the 2019-2020 school year, but when everything shut down temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic, their relationship began to wane. During the 2020-2021 school year, Maggie’s attendance problems were exacerbated by distance learning, and she ended the year as a Critical Attendance Risk. During the most recent school year, her attendance continued to be an issue throughout the first semester. Her SC recognized that Maggie, being only a first-grader, was not responsible for these absences and reached out to Maggie’s mother to begin building a relationship.
When the SC reached out to Maggie’s mother, she shared some of the barriers that prevented Maggie from attending school. Since then, the SC has been working with Maggie and her mother to them with resources, including access to basic necessities, as well as connecting her with trusted neighbors and fellow parents that could transport Maggie to school. The SC has seen Maggie’s confidence improve, in addition to great progress made in her attendance. Maggie is more comfortable interacting with peers than she’s ever been.
*Students’ names have been changed to protect their identity.