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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 brigitte.diazvoigts@cistarrant.org  or Sara Isley at sara.isley@cistarrant.org.  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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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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Tarrant County in 2030: What does this mean for education?

Every 10 years, the U.S. government sets out to count all of the people in the country. This helps our leaders to ensure that money is allocated fairly – that there are the right roads, houses, infrastructure  and most importantly the right number of schools. The 2010 census showed that Tarrant County was the fastest growing county in Texas at 25% (Fort Worth outpaced all major metro areas in Texas at 38.6%). This growth rate was driven by growth in the Hispanic population but saw increases in African American and Asian population as well. This resulted in more multicultural cities and suburbs. On the whole, a lot to be excited about.

But there is something else to these numbers. More than 28.3% of the population is under the age of 18 (meaning that they are school aged and need public education). Additionally, 8.5% of the population is under the age of 5 – meaning that they need preschool and Head Start education to get them onto the right track. Some other notes:

  • 21.2% of children live in poverty
  • Black and Hispanic children are three times more likely to live in poverty that white children
  • 13% children receive SSI
  • 29% drop out of high school
  • 59% of Tarrant County’s students are economically disadvantaged (and that is rising as a result of the recession)

The bottom line is that there are a lot of school aged students in Tarrant County who need help. Many of them are at risk of being left behind. Their economic disadvantage translates into lower TAKS passage rates especially in math and reading. Getting left behind in school leads to increased dropouts. And high school dropouts are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as graduates thus repeating the cycle.

One of the key ideas to this census data is that with this growth comes more students just like the students we are currently serving in Tarrant County. Students who will need help to stay in school and be successful. Our state’s economic prosperity depends on an educated and effective work force. Our state’s liberty depends on having responsible citizens.

What will Tarrant County look like in 2030? Undoubtedly it will be larger, more diverse, more non-English speaking, and more spread out geographically. By 2030, estimates show that Texas will add 13.6 million people – the equivalent of adding another DFW, San Antonio, Houston and Corpus Christi.

What will that mean for education?

– Stacy Landreth Grau, Ph.D.
CIS Board Member
Neeley School of Business and Texas Christian University
Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Marketing

(Sources: Texas Kids Count (www.stateoftexaschildren.org); 2007-2009 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau; Texas Education Agency; Intercultural development research association; US Census Bureau; Texas County Profile by the County Information Project, Texas Association of Counties; Looming Boom: Texas Through 2030 by James P. Gaines January 2008)