It's In You.

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Tidbits for Thought

CIS is about keeping kids in school because we believe education determines our future. Hopefully this is one thing that everyone can agree on – at least at some level. Keeping kids in school may be the biggest opportunity to change the things that need to be changed and create a future that is rich in independence, confidence and the desire to be self-sufficient.

There are several challenges that get in the way of children’s success and make staying in school difficult.  Most of them don’t have anything to do with the work required in school but rather the nurturing of the heart and dealing with basic needs of life.  Teaching is about engaging the brain and heart and requires different kinds of resources – maybe more than one teacher can present. The heart is as critical as the brain to performance, wellness, and emotional stability.  When children find meaning in their life, and have a mentor to help them define their path and deal with the obstacles they are confronted with, they learn to be independent and learn to succeed in life.

Questions I ask myself:
1.       Doesn’t it make sense to seek out children in need and create an environment that nurtures the heart so we can engage the brain?
2.       Does the combination of CIS Social Workers and quality teachers in our school district provide the best approach for dealing with the life challenges that get in the way of education?
3.       How do children in a negative environment, with no mentor to help them find meaning in their life, find the way to create a future for themselves and build confidence?
4.       Can we change “takers,” those people looking for someone to give them something, into “contributors” by providing an environment that nurtures and teaches independence and self-sufficiency?

The concept of helping others to help themselves is far from new.  A basic example that we have all heard, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”, is what  this is about and, we need to find a way to begin teaching children why “learning to fish” will prepare them to improve their future.

The problem isn’t access to education, it’s helping children and families overcoming the obstacles and helping them to understand the relevance of education and it’s positive effect on our future.  We should be asking the questions “What do you want your future to be? What do you want it to be for your children, your community, your world?”

-Michelle Jenkins, CIS Board Member

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Prom Dress Drive

It is time to kick off our 2nd annual CIS Prom Dress Drive!  Please look in your closet and pull out any formal dresses that you would like to donate to our CIS prom store. The CIS Prom Store is designed to allow girls who attend our CIS high schools, who would not otherwise be able to afford a prom dress, to “shop” for their very own prom dress at no cost to the student. We are looking to collect approximately 80 formal dresses with no discrimination in size, color, or style. We are only asking that the dresses be in good shape.  If you are interested in donating a dress (or two!) please contact Brigitte Diaz-Voigts at  or Sara Isley at  If you do not have dresses to donate but still wish to help, we are accepting small monetary donations to go toward dry cleaning and event supplies. We will need to have all dresses collected no later than Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Thank you so much for your help in making prom a special event for the seniors who attend CIS schools!

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Part of My Job

My name is Mandi Pickens and I am a 3rd year returning CIS Project Manager in an elementary school. While the summer break has been nice (who am I kidding?), I am ready to see my students again! I guess it’s safe to call this the “final countdown” before they arrive on Monday.

During the last 2 weeks, I have participated in extensive training; learned important techniques for interacting with students and families; reviewed policies and procedures; been taught how to complete my paperwork; stapled enrollment packets; and decorated my office…

But I have NOT seen my students! There is a void in my heart and the anticipation of finally being with them is growing by the second! I know that Monday morning, when I walk into the cafeteria during breakfast, I will be surrounded by little people who I have missed during the last 2 months! They will smile ear-to-ear and be excited to get back to school. I fully expect to be greeted with an instant overflow of details about their summer breaks. Do you know how fun that is? I cannot wait to hear their stories!

That’s part of my job!

I consider it an incredible privilege to be part of my students’ lives. To be honest, there are some students I have worried about. Some faces I’m afraid I might not see when school starts back. Other faces that will carry the pain of a difficult summer. As a social worker, I have to face the reality that I get to be part of my students’ lives for a season: some longer than others, some happier than others.

That, too, is part of the job.

I guess that’s why I am so ready for Monday. I long to look my kids in the eyes and know that they are safe, each and every one of them! I want the chance to remind them that I care about them and believe in them! I want the chance to help them grow, lead, achieve and believe in themselves this school year.

That’s my job! What an honor.

-Mandi Pickens, CIS Project Manager

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Social Media Galore

With this fast pace technological era, we here at Communities In Schools have been working very hard to keep up. There is always new technology and new things to learn. Social media is one medium we have been setting our attention to. Social media is constantly changing and reinventing itself. Most importantly, everyone knows the huge part it plays in our everyday lives.

Our Facebook page is at an all-time high. Our friends on Facebook continue to grow and we love to hear from our supporters. If you haven’t “liked” us on Facebook yet, click here.

CIS is also part of Twitter. You can follow us at We post many different things on our Twitter that you may not see on our Facebook. We want to give our supporters a diverse range of information and with different social media outlets we are able to do so.

This very blog that you are reading is the most recent form of social media that we have gotten involved in. We believe that giving you and the rest of our supporters an in-depth look into Communities In Schools is a great thing. We get to share our experiences and accomplishments with our supporters who make CIS possible.

We are very excited to invite you to participate in our Back to School themed Facebook button contest. Our focus is to get supporters involved and to support our “Day of Giving.” For all event details and rules, check out our Facebook event or read details here.

Make sure to see us on Facebook and Twitter. Send us a comment or a tweet, we’d love to hear from you.


Lindy Chen

Special Events/Social Media Intern