CIS of Kalamazoo receives National Award!

CIS of Kalamazoo Receives National
2015 Unsung Heroes Award
Arcadia Elementary School Named One of 10 Honorees

[Kalamazoo, MI] — Kalamazoo is once again in the national spotlight as Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo/Arcadia Elementary School has been named a 2015 Unsung Heroes Awards winner. CIS of Kalamazoo was recognized for their work at Arcadia Elementary School for helping students overcome obstacles to succeed in school and achieve in life. This award is a reflection of Kalamazoo’s investment in both its children and schools and recognizing CIS as a vehicle for implementing that support.

“Arcadia Elementary School is a shining example of what can happen when we work together for kids. This award is shared by all of us—The Kalamazoo Public Schools, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, our volunteers, partners, and donors—all dedicated to meeting students’ needs,” said Pam Kingery executive director, CIS of Kalamazoo. “Along with the talented KPS teachers, staff, and administrators, we will continue working with the community to serve the students at Arcadia as well as students in the nineteen additional KPS schools that CIS is in.”

Arcadia Elementary School of Kalamazoo Public Schools is one of 10 Unsung Heroes Awards winners and one of four sites honored in the school category by the national Communities In Schools’ network. The award highlights successful implementation of the proven site coordinator model in a partner school.

“At Communities In Schools, Unsung Hero is synonymous with dedication and commitment to serving students,” said Gary Chapman, executive vice president, Communities In Schools. “Each of our affiliates is inspiring and a true example of going the extra mile and of breaking down nonacademic barriers to student success. We’re thrilled to recognize the work being done at Arcadia Elementary School.”

The Unsung Heroes Awards were created in 2007 to give national recognition to local schools, communities and Communities In Schools’ site coordinators for changing the picture of education in America. Communities In Schools’ Unsung Heroes are keeping kids in school, doing whatever it takes to eliminate barriers and never giving up, on anyone. Last January, Kalamazoo was one of four communities in the country given a “Community of Excellence” award by National CIS. This year’s 2015 honorees were recognized at the Communities In Schools’ Leadership Town Hall, held in New Orleans, La., Thursday evening, Jan. 22.

The complete list of 2015 honorees, with links to videos and full profiles of each, can be found here: Arcadia’s video may be seen by clicking here.

State Farm Insurance Invests in CIS to Change Lives

State Farm Insurance has made its third consecutive investment in Communities In Schools of Michigan. The evidence based model is the nation’s leading dropout prevention program. The State Farm investment will assist CIS to “change more lives”, increasing graduation rates and academic achievement, leading to more post-secondary opportunities and success. Here are comments excerpted from two CIS Alumni’s testimony to the State Board of Education from Feb of 2014. (Names have been changed to protect privacy)
“At the age of fourteen I was placed in the foster care system, and for the first time, I was enrolled in an urban public school. Adjusting to the culture of the school along with not having a family in a position to support me was difficult.
My site coordinator was caring and supportive. Honestly, she was like family with her warm spirit and infectious smile. Whatever I desired to do, she would encourage me and find resources to support me….she was like a second mom/grandma. She would not let you slide. It was the perfect mixture of tough love and a soft heart. She was exactly what my school and the community needed.
Often times, people seem to forget the things that transpire outside of school effects how students perform in school. I am glad ….she was there to bridge the gap of needed services in my life”. (Currently enrolled at the University of Michigan)
“In spite of their work ethic, our family never had much. My parents wanted more for us, but really didn’t have an understanding of how we would achieve that. By the time I had reached high school, three of my older siblings had dropped out of school. One of my sisters became pregnant her senior year of high school.
I missed a lot of school because it was easy for me to skip. I was not overly concerned with turning in my assignments or completing required work even though I was bright enough to do well. It was this time in my life that I became involved with Communities In Schools
I became involved with a drama club that was supported by CIS ….I loved that drama club. To be involved, I had to get my grades up and come to school more often, which I did. I helped to design the set, choose costumes, and I also got a small part in the play. It was the first time I ever had a sense of accomplishment”. (Currently enrolled at Ferris State University)

The State Farm Insurance investment is supporting efforts to expand efforts by Communities In Schools to reach more at risk students, such as those who testified above. The state office of CIS assures quality, data collection, fidelity to the proven CIS model and builds capacity for existing CIS Michigan affiliates to provide more services to more at risk students.