For the past five years, Communities In Schools (CIS) has been an integral part of Clay County, transforming lives and fostering a strong sense of belonging among students, families, and the community.
Clay County has a total of six schools under the CIS umbrella, including Clay County High School, Clay County Middle School, Clay Elementary School, Big Otter Elementary School, Lizemore Elementary School, and H. E. White Elementary School. At the heart of the program are nine devoted Site Coordinators, each bringing their unique passion and expertise.
Lisa Arnold has spent her entire 31-year teaching career at Clay County High School and now serves as one of the school’s CIS Site Coordinators. Her focus on freshmen, guiding them through the challenges of transitioning from middle to high school, has significantly contributed to a remarkable 95% pass rate in core courses.
Greg Knopp works alongside Lisa Arnold at Clay High School as the school’s second CIS Site Coordinator. With 40 years of teaching experience, he actively promotes attendance through incentive programs like "It Pays to Come to School." His commitment to individual student success has made him a beacon of encouragement.
Kasey Brown is in her fourth year of being a CIS Site Coordinator at Clay County Middle School. She has excelled in helping students with diverse needs. Her dedication extends to organizing parent-teacher conferences at school events, ensuring parental involvement in student education.
Joe Dawson, CIS Site Coordinator at Clay Middle School and a local pastor, combines his community leadership with his role as a Site Coordinator. His strong relationships with students and families have created a sense of belonging and support at the school.
Marlene Lewis, who dedicated 37 years to teaching at Clay Elementary School, now serves as one of the school’s two CIS Site Coordinators. She focuses on enhancing behavior, academics, and attendance. Her innovative programs, including Hot Wheels races and "Fun Fridays," have made coming to school enjoyable and engaging for students.
Jesse Stephenson, a retired educator, works hand-in-hand with Marlene as a CIS Site Coordinator at Clay Elementary School. He utilizes his technological expertise to engage students. He encourages parental involvement through newsletters and actively participates in community events, fostering a sense of unity among families.
Anita Stephenson, a former English teacher and principal, is the CIS Site Coordinator at Big Otter Elementary School. She engages students with creative incentives, including sunglasses and apples for perfect attendance.
Jeff Krauklis is the CIS Site Coordinator at Lizemore Elementary School. He uses his skills to bridge academic gaps among students. His "Hot Wheels" races and disc golf activities have encouraged faithful attendance.
Patrick Shepherd is the CIS Site Coordinator at H. E. White Elementary School. His engaging lessons and community events have fostered a strong sense of community and enthusiasm for learning and coming to school.
Beyond school walls, the Clay County CIS program engages the community through initiatives such as career days, parent-involvement activities, and special events like the Halloween Block Party and Trunk-or-Treat.
The impact of CIS in Clay County is evident in improved attendance, enhanced academics, and a sense of unity among students and families. Through personalized support, CIS Site Coordinators have become trusted mentors, guiding students toward success. Their dedication embodies the adage, "It takes a village to raise a child.”