Brooke County has six schools - two primary schools, two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Brooke County’s Communities In Schools (CIS) Site Coordinators are proud to say that all six schools are receiving services from CIS. The Site Coordinators focus on improving student attendance, behavior, academics, and providing basic needs. Some of the services the Site Coordinators offer are access to a clothing closet, monthly food boxes, and school supplies that are always readily available.
Each school in Brooke County has a list of case-managed students. The Site Coordinator helps these students identify their trouble areas whether it be attendance, behavior, or academics. Then, the Site Coordinator sets goals to improve these areas and works with the students individually and in group settings while they learn the importance of school and all that comes with it. Students who achieve their goals receive rewards along the way.
“Communities In Schools has been busy at Brooke Intermediate and Primary South”, stated Stephanie Gordon, CIS Site Coordinator at Brooke Intermediate South and Brooke Primary South. “Students are working hard toward meeting attendance and personal growth goals. We work on individual classroom goals using a punch card system. Students are given a punch card with a goal to work towards. Once they complete a punch card they are awarded a certificate and small prize.”
“One of the things I enjoy most about this job is helping the students achieve the goals they have set for themselves. It is so rewarding to be able to prove to students that they are capable of so much,” said Natalie Koziara, CIS Site Coordinator at Brooke Middle School. At her school, Natalie runs a clothing closet. She continued, “Students can utilize the clothes closet on a daily basis, but we also have it set up as a shopping experience. Students bring back permission slips with their needs and sizes, and we go shopping. It’s actually really fun.”
All-school attendance challenges and rewards are very important in the process of trying to eliminate chronic absences. All elementary and primary classrooms participate in a friendly "Fill the Crayon Box" attendance challenge. For this challenge, each classroom is given a Crayola box of eight crayons. At the beginning of the challenge, teachers empty the box of crayons. For each day a class has perfect attendance, a crayon is placed back in the box. Once the box of crayons is full, the class receives a prize and the challenge resets.
Brooke Primary North and Brooke Intermediate North are also working on improving attendance this school year. Brooke Primary North does so by hosting a school-wide H.E.R.O Attendance competition. For this competition, each homeroom is assigned a superhero name. Classrooms work every day to spell out words, and with each word spelled they receive a prize.
“While this is really just a challenge for each individual class, the students do get competitive - it’s fun!” said Emily Stuck, CIS Site Coordinator at Brooke Primary North and Brooke Intermediate North.
Brooke County’s CIS Site Coordinators also give students surprise rewards for attendance. Site Coordinator Stephanie Gordon lets the entire school participate in "pop-up" incentives. These range from individual prizes for being present to one minute wiggle parties to get up and move! At Brooke Brooke Primary North and Brooke Intermediate North, Site Coordinator Emily Stuck gives rewards for monthly perfect attendance and improved attendance. At Brooke Middle School, Site Coordinator Natalie Koziara randomly draws a few names at lunch. If a student’s name is pulled, and he or she is there that day, he or she receives a treat. “The kids get really excited when I walk into the lunch room with my megaphone,” Natalie Koziara said.
Family and community engagement are also a big part of our focus. The Site Coordinators have been working with parents and guardians to ensure that their basic needs are met, whether it be finding them organizations that can provide aid or assisting them ourselves. In Brooke County, the community has been very supportive of the Communities In Schools program.
The Site Coordinators are also working on several exciting family & community events. In November, they will be hosting a Wheeling Nailers Family Fun Reading Night. In December, they will be caroling in the park.
Last year, Brooke Middle School partnered with Beautiful Blessings Gown Ministry, an organization that supplies local girls with dresses and gowns for school dances. “We took forty-nine girls to Beautiful Blessings last year,” said Site Coordinator Natalie Koziara. “They were able to pick out dresses, shoes, and jewelry for the Spring Fling. I spoke with the founder of Beautiful Blessings afterward and was told that a few of the women helping that day cried when we left. They loved making the girls feel beautiful and said it was a day they’d never forget.”
Site Coordinator Stephanie Gordon has worked with multiple community businesses to gather incentives and rewards that even parents would enjoy. She noted that the CIS team in Brooke County is also working with community partners on providing several of our families with holiday meals.
While it’s important to have the community connections and the help of donors, the Site Coordinators try to raise their own funds too. Brooke Middle School had a pumpkin decorating contest where each homeroom painted a pumpkin. The students donated money to vote for their favorite pumpkins. “The things they came up with were amazing. I was really impressed by the creativity,” Natalie Koziara said. The money earned went toward hygiene products and items for the clothing closet.
This year, the Brooke County CIS team has a brand new CIS Site Coordinator at Brooke High School. Amy Serevicz started this school year, and already has great ideas that she plans to implement at the high school. She is a wonderful addition to the Brooke County CIS team, and the team is so excited to work with her!
Brooke County’s CIS team is so proud of the things they have accomplished for their students and their student’s families, and it is truly one of the most rewarding jobs for them!