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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 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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Started Late But Doing Great!

I am a first year Project Manager in an elementary school.  Unlike many of the other project managers, I did not get to participate in the trainings and preview days many schools had before school started, so I am learning it all as I go.  My Program Director has been AH-MAZING!  I started my CIS journey two weeks after school started so you can only imagine the whirlwind so far.  Apparently, I look a lot like the previous project manager so when the kids came to say hello and get a big hug my first week, I had NO idea who the kids were (I do now, though!) but they “knew” me!  I played along, at first, but they all certainly know who I am now.

My fourth week into it, I have about 31 students on my case load and many more to bring into the program.  Learning all their names has been challenging but I surprised myself with how fast I am learning.  My first field trip with the students is next Friday, so I cannot wait for that experience.  Many of the kids stop by to chat almost every day and I love that they can confide in me and are so willing to ask for help.

I cannot believe it is already October and although this semester has barely started, before we know it, it will be all over!  My personal goal is to have all the kids’ names down by the end of this month.   It’s pretty tough when I enroll new kiddos almost every day.  As a new CIS employee, I am blown away with everything I have seen so far from the kids, faculty at my school and other CIS staff.  It has been a great start to my CIS journey and I know it will continue to get better and better!

Gabrielle Solis

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Excitement & Anticipation

Now that it’s August, the countdown to the start of the new school year has officially begun.  While I know lots of kids are probably dreading retuning to school, I was always one of the (not so cool) ones that looked forward to it.  There’s so much excitement and anticipation of what the year might bring.  I would spend the weeks leading up to the first day of school carefully planning my perfect “first day outfit”, stocking my backpack with pretty new notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils and constantly wondering about the new year: Will my friends and I have the same lunch period?  Will Mrs. Jones be as hard as I’ve heard she is?  Will there be any cute boys in my classes?  Will I make the volleyball team?

Unfortunately for many of the students that our CIS social workers work with, their concerns are slightly different.  A typical CIS student might be wondering, will I be able to get the school supplies that I need?  Will I have breakfast the morning of the first day so that my stomach isn’t growling during class?  Will this be the year that I can finally pass Algebra and go on to the next grade?  Will my mom be able to get the car fixed so that I can have a way to get to school every day?  Will I finally be able to make some friends so that I don’t have to sit at the lunch table alone every day?

When it comes to dealing with these kinds of issues, there’s no time to waste.  The social workers begin working on ways to help our CIS kids overcome various obstacles before the school year even begins.  All of the school staff returned from summer break on Monday and will be spending the next two weeks attending trainings on topics like navigating the Medicaid system, dealing with bullying and preventing teen dating violence.  They will also be learning about and networking with local agencies and community resources that are available to help our students.

The CIS social workers recognize that many students are dealing with obstacles that have a significant impact on school performance and put them at a higher risk of dropping out of school.  It’s the social worker’s job to find ways to help the students and families address those obstacles so that the students can focus on being successful in school.  Finding solutions isn’t always easy, but our social workers have the “whatever it takes” attitude and are constantly motivated by seeing the positive impacts that they can have on the lives of our CIS kids and their families.

I still spend the weeks leading up to the first day of school filled with excitement and anticipation—but now it’s because I can’t wait to see the changes that we can make in our schools and in our students’ lives.

-Alison Sanburg, LMSW

Program Director

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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