It's In You.

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Working Together Towards a Common Goal

I started working as a social worker and project manager for CIS in January of 2009. This year I started at my third school, Watauga Elementary. I have to say that starting at a new school is just like starting a new job all over again. You have to make many adjustments such as handling new policies, a new environment, new staff, and, most importantly, new students. Each school seems to have a different set of needs, which is something else you must acclimate to. Every school I have worked for has been full of supportive staff and amazing students and for that I feel truly blessed.

One of the first things we learn in our training at CIS is how crucial it is to find the people in your school who will play a big part in helping you serve your students. Changing schools has taught me that these people are different in every school. In my experience, the school counselor has always been my right arm. We have always relied heavily on one another to meet the needs of our students and families. Although I am working with an amazing counselor this year, I have come to learn that our school nurse takes on the role of social worker quite often. Nurse Junge has played a vital role in my ability to serve the students and families at Watauga Elementary. She referred many of my current students and continues to inform me of their needs on a daily basis. If something is going on at this school, she knows about it and she makes sure that I know about it, too. My working relationship with Nurse Junge has made it possible for her to trust me and is critical in my ability to do a good job. This trust has made it possible for me to provide resources and services to many of the students and families at Watauga Elementary. I have learned that being able to identify the key people in your school and build relationships with those people is just as important as any service we provide to our students. The people we connect with and the relationships we nurture are the key to running a successful program.

Heather Yeubanks

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Transitioning from School to Summer

As the last days of school approach, some would say “it’s winding down”.  How wrong they are! Students are growing excited for summer and starting to itch to be free from school.  Faculty and school staff hurry to finish their last teachings of the year and prepare for the summer.  As a CIS social worker, closing paperwork is just beginning.  We have attended training to learn how to finish all of our paperwork and are now ready to begin the process of closing our students’ files by collecting their final report cards and progress reports on improvements they have made throughout the year. 

Closing files sounds like only doing paperwork, but it also means saying goodbye to students that you have worked with for at least a year or maybe more.  It means seeing students through their great times and their rough times, being there for them and helping them grow in numerous areas, which differ for every student.  As excited as I am for summer, I am also sad I will not be there for some students who rely heavily on a smile and encouraging words each day.

I will watch my students walk out the door on the last day of school and wonder how they will do over the summer and even the rest of their lives.  Will they have food to eat? Will they be safe over the summer? What kinds of choices will they make in their lives?  Summer resources, like a summer feeding program, food banks, and summer camps for kids, have been made available to families to help bridge the gap for those in need during the summer holiday.  I can only hope that I have helped them develop the tools necessary for them to succeed in their lives. 

Azle ISD is blessed to have a CIS in every school above lower elementary.  Starting in 5th grade, CIS is available to students through the 12th grade.  This means they will always have an adult who cares about them to help them break down whatever is barring them from success. Knowing this helps me feel better about the well-being of my students.

Along with being sad to see students go, it is also a joyful time to celebrate each of the student’s successes like new friends made or achieving A honor roll.  CIS is an amazing place where each employee gets to change the lives of our youth.  We have the opportunity to foster relationships with students and help them succeed.  Every day we celebrate because our students are making strides, big and small, but overall huge in an era where lack of education is a growing epidemic. 

So yes, I will be sad to see my students leave and yes, I will think about them over the summer and hope that they are all doing well; but this summer I will also be celebrating the success of another great year working for an agency that makes a difference for so many as I look forward to another awesome year to come! 

Sarah Wagle

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Social Work Continues Even After School Gets Out

My friends always ask me, “what do you do during the summer, school is out, right?” I say yes, but life as a social worker is about more than assisting children and families in need. Social work is also about advocacy, research, policy and administration.

Over the summer months I wear several hats. First, I start my summer in Austin at our annual training program for best practice ideas and training over the next school year’s documents. Upon my return I analyze all required documents from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) during our summer training program. I, along with other operation managers in the CIS of Texas network, advocate for change with the prescribed paperwork in an effort to streamline paperwork and procedures for the hundreds of CIS staff across Texas.

Second, I work closely with several of the Program Directors to secure required Continuing Education Training Units (CEU’s) for our Project Managers. CIS Tarrant County builds relationships with other professionals throughout the metroplex to provide training. These courses help our staff stay abreast of the most current issues in their schools and communities.

Third, I work on changes to the Personnel, Policies and Procedure manuals.

Lastly, I focus on administrative duties such as selecting due dates for the upcoming school year and interviewing potential applicants for employment. I spend about 15 hours per week in the summer conducting interviews in an effort to secure the best candidates to fit CIS and our schools.

During interviews, I ask potential candidates if they are more energized by working with data or collaborating with others? Generally, most candidates say collaborating with others. However, social work requires both. I feel energized once a project is completed and I like collaborating with others for the success of children and CIS.

So, as you can see I have my work cut out for me each summer.

— Myra McGlothen, VP and Chief Program Officer