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It's In You.


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Fond Memories

I have been employed with CIS for the past 4 years & I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with CIS.

I was first introduced to CIS shortly after I moved to Texas upon graduating from Western Carolina University. I was furiously job hunting & knew very little about Texas or the social work job opportunities here. While scouring the internet for social work jobs, I came across the CIS website. I knew the moment I stumbled upon the CIS website that this job was for me. I enjoy working with children and their families and thought CIS would be the perfect fit. So, I decided to apply for the Project Manager position.

A couple of weeks later, I received a call for an interview. I was so excited and anxious throughout the interview. I really hoped to get this job.

After a second interview, I shortly received a call from Myra letting me know I got the job. I was so excited I did not know what to do. Little did I know the exciting and wonderful journey I would begin by accepting a position with CIS.

My time with CIS has been an exciting. I have gotten to work with and help many families.  I feel that I have been able to make a difference in their lives. I am not going to say it has always been an easy journey, but it has been an enjoyable one.

Although it has been challenging at times balancing the many roles and responsibilities a CIS social worker takes on, I am happy I had the opportunity to have this unique social work experience. It is not often that people can say they love what they do, but I honestly do and would not trade my experience with CIS for anything.

I will truly miss my Azle Elementary and my CIS family when I leave Texas this summer to go back home to North Carolina. I will cherish the fond memories I have made.

-Staci Ward


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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 importance of return on investment

It is the end of the year. As we come off the holiday season (well, almost) undoubtedly you had many opportunities to give to those who are less fortunate than yourself. It could be angel programs or church groups; the food bank or presents for kids under the supervision of Child Protective Services. All great, worthy causes. These organizations tug at your heart strings especially when so many people have so little. It just feels good to give.

And of course, I am not one to say that there is no return on investment for these gifts. The idea that kids have presents under the Christmas tree or food in their tummies is obviously what we want. Obviously the ROI is there.

But do you really know?

So in the new year … I challenge you to think about your gifts. Really think about them. What is the return on your investment – whether it is money, or time or talent? An organization like Communities in Schools Tarrant County has verifiable results. We can see the ROI on our money – not only immediately (e.g. how much it takes to keep a kid in school and graduate) but over the long term (e.g. how that kid goes on to become a more productive citizen who may not need public assistance). Honestly, the fact that CIS has an amazing ROI is one reason I am involved (that is probably the business professor in me).

When developing a “giving strategy” for 2012, I would suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you care about? What causes are important to you? Concentrate on those.
  • What organizations work on the cause that you care about? Make a list. Do some research. See what these organizations are doing with their donor dollars and what difference they are able to make.
  • Get involved with one or two. Make a donation, join a committee or a Board. Make a civic contribution to make your community better. Be the difference that you want to see.
  • And give. Give to these organizations that you feel have a great ROI. Give to some that honestly, just feel good to give to. But give.

 

Stacy Landreth Grau

Neeley School of Business

Texas Christian University

Board Member: Communities in Schools Tarrant County


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Aim Higher. Fight Harder.

I was very blessed to always have the support of my parents when I was in school. My parents have always encouraged me to be better than them; to aim higher and fight harder. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school and continue on to get a college degree. I am the new Marketing and Special Events Coordinator at CIS (8 days strong) and I am excited to be part of such an incredible agency.

During my initial interview, Yvette Handshaw, Vice President and Chief Development Officer, shared a student’s success story with me and I wanted to ask her if it was okay to cry! I was so inspired and touched by the story I had to choke back my tears. I’m pretty sure it’s not appropriate to cry during an interview. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be part of CIS.

In my position I will be working with committees, board members and other staff to bring awareness to CIS and raise money so we can keep Tarrant County kids in school. I am here to do my part so that our at-risk students can aim higher and fight harder too.

– Alejandra Morado
Marketing & Special Events Coordinator


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A Long Journey

The first of September marks my mandatory “retirement” as a member of the Board of Directors at Communities in Schools (CIS) after 6 years.  I came to Communities in Schools as a board member with more questions than answers, but hopeful they had an answer for the seemingly inextricable problem of our community’s children not completing their education.   I had a belief education could make a permanent difference in the lives of our children and their future generations. I still want to believe in the American dream, a promise of opportunity—not a promise of result, but opportunity for all our people.  Inherent in that promise is some assurance of a level playing field.  In my belief the primary underpinnings of this assurance are, rule of law and education.  I know we cannot legislate good parenting, or even good behavior on the part of adults who happen to be parents, but as a society we are obligated to try to give all our children an education that can equip them for success in the world.   In my mind if we fail, we risk losing our driving values as a country and therefore we risk losing our own grandchildren’s future.  We can cocoon ourselves behind the walls of our closed minds and closed eyes to this failed promise.  We can rail on and on about teachers unions, bad kids, bad parents, bureaucracies and on and on and on; much of which contains grains of truth.  But after the words fade off, the child is still there unprepared to face a world of increasing complexity without the skills to be self sufficient and we will be forced to take care of them, either incarcerated or on welfare.  As a recent New York Times article on the issue of teachers unions and charter schools stated,  “Teacher quality may be the most important variable within schools, but mountains of data, going back decades, demonstrates that most of the variation in student performance is explained by nonschool factors: not just poverty, but also parental literacy (and whether parents read to their children), student health, frequent relocations, crime-­related stress and the like.”

Does CIS have the answer to all of this, no of course not?  There is no one answer. But I can say with total confidence that CIS produces a significant cost efficient positive result to our dropout problem in Tarrant County.  CIS does significantly reduce the dropout rate in schools and it does have a positive impact on classroom behavior and attendance, which promotes a positive learning environment for all the students in the school.  It does go a long way to leveling the playing field. These are documented hard researched facts not speculation or mushy feel good thoughts.

It does this primarily thanks to the dedicated young social workers that work inside the schools.  Folks this job is hand to hand combat. Success is won through skilled, caring hearts and strong convictions that they can make a difference.  These young women are not changing the shape of education, they are not magically producing better parents for our children; they are simply making a difference in the individual lives of the children, one problem at a time.  Addressing the very complexity of problems in the students lives the New York Times article quotes above, so these problems are no longer a barrier between the child and success.  In doing so these young social workers show the child true compassion, not as a statistic but as a person, maybe for the first time.  This is why CIS has such success. This is why CIS makes a difference in the children’s lives, in the schools and in our community, a difference that will last for generations.

-Stuart Murff, CIS Board Member