Communities In Schools is proud to serve students in all eight schools in Braxton County. CIS Site Coordinators maintain clothing, hygiene, and school supplies for all students in need. Working with community partners, weekend snack bags and emergency food boxes are also offered to students. The program focuses on four major areas to help students stay in school and achieve in life: attendance, behavior, academics, and social emotional support. Site Coordinators work with all students in Tier I, small groups in Tier II, and individually in Tier III settings. Ten percent of the student population at each school is identified as case managed students. With parental permission, these students are provided extra support in one of the four focus areas. Case managed students set goals and are monitored for growth throughout the school year.
Through Tier I activities, 1,744 students throughout the county are being encouraged to sustain good attendance. All students benefit from Tier I activities. Surprise! You’re Here! is an attendance incentive Cindy Pendry uses to reward students at Davis Elementary. Randomly, an announcement is made that everyone in attendance that day receives a special treat! “I love working with children and helping them feel good about themselves. I also want to make positive connections with our school’s families.” Cindy said.
Reducing the number of chronic absences (18 or more days per year) countywide is an objective of the CIS program. Our team works hand in hand with Tim Via, Braxton County Attendance Director, to meet our attendance goals. At Braxton County Middle School, Courtney Shaver strives to make sure all students feel welcomed and safe, so they will want to be in school. She says, “Building meaningful relationships is a highlight of my job.” Courtney meets with each of her case managed students to review their data and set a goal for the school year. She meets monthly with each student to complete progress monitoring.
Working with small groups of students, Tier II activities, are a useful tool for Site Coordinators. Breakfast With Ms. Patty is a perfect example of a Tier II project. Students get to eat breakfast in the CIS '70s retro classroom. Spending time together is strengthening their relationships. “I want my kids to feel loved and happy when they spend time with me!
They know I am there for them no matter what!” said Patty Fussell, CIS Site Coordinator at Frametown Elementary School.
Case managed students at Burnsville Elementary School are focusing on improving their attendance. Heather Pritt, the CIS Site Coordinator, used money provided through an attendance grant for an exciting Tier I activity. As students meet their attendance goals, they spin the prize wheel and earn some great rewards. “My favorite part of my job is encouraging our students to be successful even with the hardships they are facing. When they stop to say hello or ask when they can come see me, I know they view me as someone they can trust,” Heather said.
Research shows that student confidence is necessary for them to take risks and face adversity in their education and life. Penny Carr, Site Coordinator at Little Birch Elementary, works on building self-esteem with her students. This helps break down barriers that prevent students from attending school on a regular basis. Through her program, students and their families are provided free haircuts by local beauticians throughout the year. Penny said, “This is the most rewarding position I’ve ever had!”
Communities In Schools relies on the generosity of others, especially community organizations and local businesses. Partners In Education play a vital part in the CIS program. Their help and support are invaluable. Through her partnership with Braxton County Coalition, our local Family Resource Network, Jessica Porto from Flatwoods Elementary has brokered needed supports for students. This partnership also provides resources for families outside of the school system. “I love the feeling of giving back to a community in which I was raised,” said Jessica. “This is my dream job!” Jessica provides the team with updates of community events for all families.
At Sutton Elementary, Shine Bright with iReady is a Tier I activity that Site Coordinator Susan Schiefer uses to provide incentives for students to increase academic growth. When students pass iReady ELA and Math lessons, they earn classroom rewards. Meeting yearly growth is a goal that aligns with the school’s strategic plan. Susan said, “Helping students grow academically is second nature. Being a former teacher, I know the importance of mastering the grade level standards to be successful in the future.”
If you think Braxton County High School seniors are thrilled to accept their graduation diplomas, you haven’t met Tyler Cunningham, CIS Site Coordinator at BCHS! “I’m full of joy as I watch my students rise above everything life has thrown at them,” he said.
“I know the journey has been hard, but with CIS in every school, the support is powerful, and our students reap the benefits.” Though seniors are a key focus, Tyler starts building those important relationships when students become a Braxton County High School eagle their freshman year!
Our CIS team is under the guidance of CIS Liaison Kimberly Dennison, Director of Elementary Education, Federal Programs, and Professional Development for Braxton County Schools. The team meets monthly for professional development and to organize community events such as Soaring Into A New School Year, a Community Connection Event sponsored by Braxton County Communities In Schools. In conjunction with Braxton County Title I, this event gave a venue to community organizations and local businesses to share what they offer to students and their families. “This group is an inspiration for all,” said Kim. “They have caring hearts and go above and beyond to help students, their families, and their schools. I am proud to be a part of our Communities In Schools program.”
Braxton County Communities In Schools would like to thank First Lady Cathy Justice for being instrumental in securing the CIS program in West Virginia. Her continued commitment to the program is greatly appreciated. Communities In Schools has had a positive effect on countless students.