CIS Spells Success
Communities In Schools helps local students succeed, especially during these unusual times.
When third grader Ajanay Greene at Waccamaw School couldn’t get a virtual connection, Communities In Schools Success Coach Amber Malave stepped in. She visited Ajanay at her family’s home three times to deliver a laptop computer and help her make the network connection so Ajanay could do her assignments and communicate with her teachers.
CIS board member and volunteer Katherine Mohr at Shallotte Middle School hand-delivered school-provided meals and other food to Thomas “TJ” Willard and his sister Kasey Scott when their family didn’t have transportation to get it.
Despite restrictions put on schools this term because of COVID-19, Communities In Schools, an active program in Brunswick County Schools since 1995, continues assisting students. The purpose of CIS is to identify at-risk students. Success Coaches and volunteers tutor, mentor and work with students so they succeed in school rather than drop out or enter the juvenile justice system. Success Coaches also work with parents and make home visits to better understand family dynamics and form a partnership in meeting students’ needs.
“We are out there working side by side with school staff as a team supporting students,” Bonnie Jordan, executive director of CIS, says.
In the 2019-20 school year, 386 students were enrolled in the CIS Action for Success program, but with the delay in starting school, Jordan says the team is still assessing this year’s needs. The biggest challenge is determining the best way to reach students.
“Until school starts face-to-face instruction, we won’t know the specific needs of all students,” Jordan says.
In-school classes are set to meet by the end of September, but students will have both virtual and in-school classes until restriction are eased.
“We try to catch the kids who might fall through the cracks and who need extra support outside of the classroom to keep pace with their peers and be successful,” Jordan says.
“David,” a student at Leland Middle School, whose father died when David was in fifth grade, was having difficulty with discipline and academics. After a CIS Success Coach and a volunteer worked with him for three years, David’s academic grades increased, his disciplinary action declined and he became interested in extracurricular activities. Now in ninth grade, David looks to achieve his goal of entering the military.
CIS Action for Success programs are at Waccamaw School, Supply Elementary, Leland Middle, Cedar Grove Middle, South Brunswick Middle and Shallotte Middle schools. The academic-based 21st Century Community Learning Center is available at Supply Elementary School for students in second to fifth grades.
Peer Court is a program in which students from fourth through eighth grade determine constructive sentencing to help their peers who have accepted responsibility for misdemeanor offenses. Teen Court operates in the high schools with the same goals as Peer Court. Both programs are juvenile court diversion programs, which help students avoid a juvenile court record that can affect their futures in a negative manner.
The Back to School Supply Drive in August, which accepted donations of school supplies, proved successful, and Jordan says the needs have shifted to other areas. Now CIS needs:
• paperback books appropriate for second to eighth graders
• hygiene products including toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, body wash, feminine products and other personal necessities.
• gift cards from Walmart, Food Lion, gas stations and Amazon in amounts of $25 or less.
• coats, scarves, gloves and other warm clothing for cold weather when it arrives.
Another way to support CIS is by shopping, donating or volunteering at its thrift stores in Boiling Spring Lakes, Leland, Sunset Beach and Southport.
As restrictions are eased, volunteers will be needed to tutor and mentor students. CIS will reach out to the community when they know what their volunteer needs are and when volunteers will be permitted to return to the schools.