It's In You.

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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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Happy New Year

Believe it or not, it is 2012. With the start of the new year here at CIS we are saying goodbye to a close friend, Yvette Hanshaw who has helped CIS grow into 38 schools in seven school districts. She accepted the position of Director of Development for the College of Communication at TCU. We already miss her smiling face.

We are also saying hello to a new school, Sharrod Elementary School in Arlington. We are interviewing now to find the perfect social worker for that school.

As we returned from the holiday break, we also learned that two of our staff members are now engaged! Congratulations to Myra McGlothen and Alejandra Morado…….2012 will be a big year for the two of you.

One last thought – In our December e-newsletter we asked for help to restore the right ear for one of our elementary school students who was born without the outside part of her ear. Her family needed about $5,000 to move the process forward and we received generous gifts that moved them closer to that goal. Members of the extended CIS family always seem to come through when we need them. Thank you for your generosity.

Have a happy and prosperous new year.

-Mike Steele, President & CEO

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The Holidays

The holiday season is a time of reflection and thanks. Family is always my first thought, but I am lucky enough to have a great family at work too. That family includes our Board members…..all of whom came to us because of their passion to help kids and specifically to help them secure an education……the kind of help that lasts a lifetime and into future generations. But at this time of year, my heart really goes out to our staff. None of these wonderful people are here because of great salaries. CIS people, social workers, financial, marketing and other office staff find their way to CIS and stay with CIS because they know CIS is making a difference in the lives of thousands of kids and their families. It is not everybody who is lucky enough to get paid for doing something that they really love. I am thankful for the opportunity to be associated with so many wonderful and dedicated people. Those of you who know me know that I love my job……you hear me say it all the time. I also hear it from CIS people all the time. So I want to wish a very happy holiday season to everybody in the CIS family…..a very special family.

– Mike Steele, CEO

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The Fun has Begun

A few moments from my first weeks back to school:

*One little 2nd grader comes marching back to my classroom with her mom and two younger brothers, longing for a very specific pair of shoes. When I say longing, I DO mean longing. According to her mom, she’d been talking and dreaming all summer about the pair of white heels with sparkles that I wouldn’t let her keep last year because they were too big.  In a teacher like moment last year, I apparently told her that she could “have them next year if they were still here.” Well, much to her chagrin, her foot has grown and I still have the shoes. She already has several new dresses from the clothes closet that she’s been dreaming of pairing with those shoes, including the floor length black velour dress that she wore the next day with her heels. Don’t worry, she modeled it for me. Quite the look for the playground. Did I mention she has six brothers?

*Lest she be outdone by the boys, I had a 1st grade boy come to my room the next morning. Now, this kid is just funny. Thanks to modern medicine, he focuses extremely intensely while he is at school. Last year, every time he came to see his mentor, he had her look through all of my shoes. He wore a size one. I had a pair of patent leather, shiny black dress shoes, size five. I can’t even tell you how many times he tried to talk me and his mentor into giving them to him. I went ahead and gave them to a 5th grader for his dance program last year and hadn’t thought about them since then. Last week, my little friend came into my classroom and immediately asked me about those shiny black shoes “because my foot has grown bigger and they might fit me now.” Disappointment is sadly a part of life…

*I’ve worn my hair curly at least one day each week. I personally don’t love it that way, but it’s SO much faster! I spoke with a mom and her three kids. She said, “Ms. Stacks, I really like when you do your hair curly – really makes your face look fatter.” I went home and straightened it.

*Goal setting with a 1st grader. Typical goals include broad statements like “Do my best every day; Be nice to others; Get 0 behavior card marks; Make a new friend; etc.” However, one boy with blonde hair, pudgy cheeks, big blue eyes, very serious demeanor and an adorable southern drawl had different ideas. His included; “Make a cover out of tape and cover the holes in the walls to keep the roaches out of the bathroom and our school; Draw something scary on the tape; Scare the roaches out of our school; They aren’t as bad as water bugs like the one that crawled on me in my bathtub last week.”

Back to school…the fun has begun.

-Mandi Pickens, CIS Project Manager

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What is the real economic impact of losing 1/3 of our students before graduation?

The research says that each student who leaves school without a diploma costs taxpayers about $270,000 in lost wages, lost tax revenue, increased job retraining, increased public assistance costs, increased incarceration costs, etc. Over 10,000 students left TarrantCountyschools last year without a diploma. Simple multiplication yields a cost to taxpayers of $2.7 billion for this one class of students. If that is not bad enough, what is the cost of constantly growing the number of adults in our community without high school diplomas? What does this say to CEOs considering Tarrant Countyas their corporate home? If no adult in a family has ever graduated, what are the educational expectations for their children? What effect does breaking this cycle have on family trees? If evidence-based solutions are available, can we afford to continue missing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our children to break the cycle?

– Mike Steele, President and CEO

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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

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Can one social worker overcome every obstacle a student faces; can she do it for dozens of students in her school?

 Of course not and that is exactly what three decades of research confirms very clearly. Yet the research also confirms that only comprehensive solutions achieve meaningful results in reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. So if solutions for everything must be available, how does one CIS social worker get it done? Not alone………it literally takes a village. In fact over 80 partner organizations bring their expertise in things like gang prevention, drug abuse, bullying, anger management, self esteem, conflict resolution, abuse, neglect, vision correction, social skills, date rape, adolescent pregnancy, dental treatment, food, clothing, utility bills, family violence……… name it. The CIS social worker’s role? – Assess the needs of individual students, build trust and connect them and families with community resources. Then stay connected to monitor progress. In short – what ever it takes.


– Mike Steele, President and CEO


Welcome to Communities In Schools and to our “Running with Scissors” blog.

Why Running with Scissors? At a very young age most of us learned that running with scissors is hazardous, but too many young people do not understand the life-long hazards of dropping out of school. Success in our business requires fearless tenacity from both CIS social workers and from our students who run together toward school success and graduation.

By way of introduction, let me tell you what we hope to do with Running with Scissors. We would like our readers to experience CIS in depth and from the inside. We want you to get a taste of what it is like to be a CIS social worker or a CIS student. This 360 degree look into CIS will highlight both the daily challenges and the champions of what we do. It will also allow us to share the tenacity and many successes of our students. We hope it will also serve as a starter for many conversations about education, dropout prevention and societal issues facing children and about setting priorities for key decision makers at all levels.

Welcome to Running with Scissors. If you are new to Communities In Schools, please check our website at or join us on facebook. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

-Mike Steele, President and CEO