Removing Barriers and Building Bridges to Success

 While attending the 2017 Juvenile Justice Conference at the Columbia Conference Center I was surprised to learn that my former Communities In Schools student, Cary, was one of the guest speakers. I hadn’t seen Cary in over ten years. As Cary began to speak / was moved, as he talked about the impact CIS had on his life. He said that CIS was the foundation that got his life back on track. Then even more to my surprise, he began to talk about me! He said, ‚ÄúThere was a special lady there by the name of Ms. Jackson, sweet, sweet, Ms. Jackson, affectionately known as Mama J. Ms. Jackson saw things in me that at the time I didn’t see in myself. She saw the best in me. She and the other CIS staff looked beyond my past and catered to my potential future.

Communities in Schools gave me hope and helped me become the man that I am today. The things they taught have never left me. This change happened because they cared enough to build a relationship with me.” When I heard him express that a simple smile, hug, and caring ways drastically changed his life, I was moved beyond words because he wasn’t trying to impress me, he didn’t even know I was there. He was simply speaking from his heart. The mantra that I live by is “Keep Hope Alive! Caring is the light in any dark place.” You don’t always know the impact you have on a student based on the data we collect. I’m glad I was able to have such an impact on this young man’s life!

Beverly Jackson, Site Coordinator Department of Juvenile Justice

In October of 2017 a senior at Columbia High School, DreQuan, was referred to Communities In Schools due to grades and behavior issues. As a result of this he lost eligibility to play football. Football was his life and he dreamed of going to college and being a football player, so, this was a major disappointment for him. Once he started working with CIS he was assigned a mentor and we began building a relationship with him by doing daily checkins and weekly meetings. He was held accountable for his school work, attendance and his attitude toward his future. After many hours of implementing motivational interviewing strategies, our conversations became more optimistic and he began to see in his mind the possibility of going college and playing football again. His mentor began working with him to prepare him to retake the ACT test. Through this hard work he was able to improve his grades and test scores. In working towards his goal of going to college, we assisted him with completing applications for SC State University, Benedict College, and Allen University as well as applying for financial aid (FAFSA). He was later invited to Allen and Benedict to try out for their football teams. He was accepted to both schools, and ultimately went on to Allen University where he received grants and an athletic scholarship which covered his full tuition. This was the first step towards reaching his goal of becoming an athletic coach or director.

Susan Key, Site Coordinator Pine Ridge Middle School

Communities In Schools has helped me a lot! Ever since I got put in it, my school has gotten better. Mrs. Aldamuy has helped me a lot and I thank her for that. She taught me not to cut class, how to control my attitude, and to be respectful. Ms. Saco also taught me the same thing and helped me get ready for high school. Communities In Schools has let me release everything I had inside of me that wouldnt come out. They helped me get my grades up, stay on my academic level and be positive. My attitude has gotten better ever since thanks to Mrs. Aldamuy, Ms. Saco, Ms. Johnson, Mrs. Sutton, and etc. I love Communities in Schools!

Mariah, 8th grade St. Andrews Middle School

We are all charged in the educational profession to make sure that we provide for the needs of all of our students. Even though, we have been given this mandate, there are limited resources that the school can provide to help these students, and make their lives better in order for us to educate them. The Communities in Schools of the Midlands Program has been a great resource for our students and parents here at Saint Andrews Middle School. This program is often requested by our students, faculty members, and parents to fill the gap in the following areas: academics, counseling, resources, clothing, and assistance with our Snack Pack Program.

We have students who try their best to come to school each day despite their lack of clothing and resources, but it is made better when they know Mrs. Aldamuy and her staff are here on campus that particular day. The Communities in Schools program has been a godsend when it comes to making sure our children have appropriate clothing for school. Their clothing items are always clean and age appropriate for our students. They keep on hand a large assortment of shoes, shirts, pants, and socks to provide assistance to children in need on a daily basis.

The Communities in Schools programs also helps to provide tutors and assistance for our children who are struggling academically. They assist students with writing assignments, science projects, and all other assignments they may not understand. Our students have the ability to succeed in school, but this program provides critical services that they need in order to experience success. The enormity of what they do is not completely expressed in this summary.

Sheryl Dunning, School Counselor, 6th Grade St. Andrews Middle School