Growing Together’s Communities in Schools (CIS) team works hard to provide the resources students in our schools need to succeed. They understand each student’s situation is unique and come up with personalized solutions to aid in their success. Read about a few of the recent programs, events and success stories from our CIS Site Coordinators.
Around the World Program
CIS Site Coordinators (SC) engage the students in our community schools and work with diverse groups of students from many different backgrounds and cultures. Children thrive in these environments because they experience viewpoints that differ from their own. That’s why our SCs recently partnered with City Year, a nonprofit organization fostering student success, to host the Around the World celebration. Around the World brought the students together to learn about each other’s cultures, holidays and celebrations. Holidays presented included Rush Hashanah, Diwali, and October Fest. Students and the community gathered to learn about others as they celebrated their own cultures and got to share their authentic selves. The SCs plan to continue hosting similar events to build community connections both within and outside of school.
Eugene Field’s Family STEAM Night at Discovery Lab
As a Montessori Method-based school, Eugene Field Elementary School is an advocate for hands-on, specialized learning. One educational approach they follow is STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The Discovery Lab supplements STEAM education in an interactive museum environment, so Eugene Field’s CIS Site Coordinators reached out in a partnership to bring all students, staff and their families for a free evening at the museum. The evening began with the Discovery Lab providing Mazzio’s pizza and drinks at the school to support families facing food insecurity. Two school buses were available to provide transportation to and from the school, allowing the 579 people from 158 families to travel beyond their community to the experience the museum for the evening. The Discovery Lab also gifted every family a Family Voucher for a one-year membership to the museum, which enables two adults and all children within a household to visit the museum for free! The event and vouchers encourage STEAM learning in an environment outside of school while giving families a free activity to do over the summer and extended school breaks.
Every student’s situation and obstacles are different. Chaise’s SC noticed they were struggling with their grades, specifically in two of their sixth grade level classes. If they continued without intervention, they would have to attend two summer school classes to make up their grades. Upon reviewing Chaise’s file, the SC discovered they had previously been on caseload for increased academic support. Recognizing they needed extra support, the SC reached out to Chaise to learn more about why they had become disengaged and how to provide support.
Through getting to know Chaise, the SC discovered they faced a lot of family trauma outside of school. This resulted in anger issues that got in the way of their success. As a consequence, they struggled to ask for help with their schoolwork. The SC worked with Chaise to teach them that it’s okay to ask their teacher for help if they need it. Through learning to ask for help, Chaise’s grades improved so they now have to only take one summer school class. This is only the first step in Chaise’s academic success. As their education advances, their grades will continue to improve as they won’t hesitate to ask for help. The school, Chaise’s teachers and SC are incredibly proud of the progress they have made and will continue supporting them in whatever capacity they need to ensure their success in school!
Brenda’s Family Success Story
Our CIS Site Coordinators go above and beyond supporting students in an academic-only environment. For students to succeed, they also need to have a stable home environment where they feel safe. That’s why SCs also help students’ families by providing the resources and support they need. One SC noticed a third grader, Brenda, who was struggling socially. Brenda kept to herself and seemed to have difficulty making friends. Her SC reached out to learn more about Brenda and why she wasn’t engaging with classmates.
As she got to know Brenda, she also got to know her family and their story. Brenda’s mom immigrated to the United States approximately twelve years ago. She’s a single mom with four children and no outside support. She is responsible for paying for rent, food and other necessities for her children and their safety. Brenda’s mom works hard at a local restaurant, but had difficulty paying rent while simultaneously caring for her family. Brenda saw how her mother struggle, which impacted her socially because she didn’t feel like she had a stable home environment.
Brenda’s SC recognized the family needed help, so she reached out to other SCs at the school. Together, they helped provide necessities for Brenda’s family. With the extra support, Brenda’s mother was able to save enough money to purchase a house for her family, much to her and her children’s excitement.
This improvement to Brenda’s home environment gave her the confidence to begin engaging with her peers. She saw her mother’s hard work and it taught her that she, too, can be brave and achieve her goals. We are proud of Brenda’s growth and can’t wait to see how she and her family continue to flourish!
Beth, a sixth-grader, frequently visited the CIS office. She is engaged in school, earns good grades and participates in after-school activities. Despite her involvement, she experienced disciplinary issues. While visiting the CIS office, she would demand drinks and snacks, at times even opening the refrigerator without asking permission. After repeated warnings about her behavior from the SCs, she was told she would no longer be allowed in the CIS office if her actions continued. The SCs tried to educate Beth about the consequences of her actions, and began writing disciplinary referrals each time she acted out. Slowly, they began to notice improvements in her behavior.
One busy day, while Beth was in the CIS office, several other students entered and began asking for snacks and drinks. The SCs were on a phone call, and a student accidentally spilled a drink. On her own initiative, Beth took action and cleaned up the other student’s mess while the SCs were unavailable. Another time, Beth helped a student sign into the office and helped him sharpen his pencil.
By learning that all actions have outcomes, Beth changed her behavior. The improvements she has shown will help her to better succeed at everything she does and encourage her to think about the potential outcomes of a situation. Students may not experience practices like these in their home environment, which can lead to behavioral issues. SCs work to model positive behaviors and challenge students like Beth to grow personally and academically each day.