Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Intern for Communities in Schools

 By Ryan Dierickx
   Internet Marketing Intern

It is amazing how easy it is to take for granted all of the privileges I have had in my life, a strong education is the one of these.  Before I began as a volunteer for Communities in Schools of Whatcom County I never knew how serious the drop out problem was right here in our own backyard. Volunteering and interning has put this issue at the front of my mind. 
It has not been long since I was a high school student. I remember the confusion as a child coming into an adult world and the stress and anxiety of growing up. Frequently the need to be accepted, problems at home and other issues can make education less of a priority than it should be. Often students do not understand the importance of a strong education or they just assume things will work out for them in the end without any investment in themselves. With all that Communities in Schools does I believe the most important thing that we do is give students individual attention and a gentle reminder that people care whether or not they succeed or fail . This helps them understand that education is a privilege and should not be wasted.
I'm proud to work as an intern in an organization that is committed to solving the drop-out problem. We live in a globalized world where students are required to compete with students in other countries with better education programs. Our leaders are not able to address properly this epidemic in our nation’s schools and that is why it is so important to engage the local communities to respond to this problem. Volunteering as an intern has been a great way to give to this cause. To work and apply my skills as an internet marketing intern to improve and bring our message into the public consciousness has at times been a challenge. Often I have had to learn new skills and develop old ones but there is no doubt that it has been a rewarding opportunity and I look forward to a brighter future knowing that there are people in the world that are dedicated to making it better. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Fresh Start to a New Semester

From February 13th-15th, the Communities In Schools onsite coordinators at Sehome High held an Organization Fair in the school cafeteria.  Many students in our program stopped by after school and during Anchor Class, which is an open period where students focus on their individual needs, to pick up new school supplies to prepare and get organized for the second semester.
Organizing supplies makes it easier for students to keep track of their assignments and helps them excel in their classes.  The mentors joined their students to help organize their backpacks, throw out old assignments, and pick out new supplies to use for their second semester classes.  Many students even found missing assignments that they were still able to turn in for credit. 
By the end of the three days, two big recycling bins full of old assignments were collected from cleaning out their backpacks.  The students left feeling refreshed from having a lighter backpack on their shoulders and felt better prepared to take on the new semester.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Mentor Effect

“I recently matched a freshman with a Peer Mentor to get her more help with her school work.  They have been meeting regularly for the past month.  Once school was over today, Stacey barged into my office —with the most energy I’ve ever seen her exude— and told me that she has every single assignment turned in for her math class.  She was so excited and proud of herself for completing everything!”
Resource Coordinator at Sehome High School

“Mandy is a sophomore and has no credits.  I met with her often last year and tried to hook her up with a Peer Mentor, but the match was never complete.  Mandy expressed to me that she has an IEP and her current classes were overwhelming and hard to keep up with.  Because of this, she stopped attending school leading her to fall even more behind.  Since then, we were able to get Mandy tested for Special Ed and now she is in classes suitable for her learning needs.  Her and her Mentor have met once and got along great! Mandy was engaging and conversational and seems to be coming to school more often now that her class schedule has been sorted out.”

Resource Coordinator at Sehome High School

The names of the students have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Olympia Trip

 By Jordan Donohue
   Political Science Intern

The Communities in Schools’ trip to Olympia day was fun, productive, and informative!  Our Whatcom County branch sent an all-star group down to the State Capital: Executive Director Dennis D’Amelio, board member Richard May, Options School teacher Leslie Adamson, Options and Northwest Tech student Timmy, and myself.  Our mission was to meet with Senators and House Representatives from the 40th and 42nd Congressional Districts of Washington.  Every member of our group played an integral part in informing Olympia about the fantastic work that Communities in Schools is doing in Whatcom County.  Each Senator or House Representative showed a genuine interest in reducing the dropout rate in Whatcom County and improving educational resources in our schools!  Most notably, Timmy and Leslie did a fantastic job of promoting Options High School, Improv for Education, as well as Communities in Schools as a whole.  Here in Whatcom County we look forward to ongoing progress with Olympia to help Communities in Schools grow and constantly improve the standard of education in our area. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reaching for the Stars

Our guest blogger for the day is Cassandra Deguzman, a new marketing intern at Communities in Schools of Whatcom County. Cassandra is a senior at Western Washington University graduating in August, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and minoring in Economics. Today, she talks about her role here at CIS and the big goals she is working on reaching.

After months of desperately searching for an internship, I stumbled upon an opening for a marketing internship at Communities in Schools of Whatcom County. As I looked into the mission, values, and impact of the organization and its programs, I was drawn into everything CIS stood for.

I grew up in Whatcom County my whole life and I had never been fully aware of how substantial the drop-out rates are in the very place I grew up. I realized many people in the county were also uninformed, so it is my role in the organization, to inform. 

Throughout my internship at CIS, my focus has been to generate awareness by utilizing social media outlets. Through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and the website, I promote the work that we do here. I let people know about upcoming events, programs that are in place, success of the students in our programs, and much more. 

Maintaining a strong, visible online presence is very important for growing organizations, such as ours, in growing awareness. The work that CIS does is incredibly important and it’s my personal mission to make sure everyone knows who we are, what we do, and what we believe in!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Improv for Education: Behind the scenes

Our guest blogger for the day is Remara Koppel, the site coordinator at Sehome High School.
Improv For Education is this Saturday and I’m so excited! The kids have been practicing for months and they are all eager to perform live. I’ve had such a wonderful time going to Options High every Thursday and watch them practice. I feel so fortunate that I get to be a part of their practices every week! They have me chuckling so often that by the next day it feels like I did 100 sit-ups!
I spoke with Leslie earlier this week and she told me that 5 of the Improvisers waited until 4:00 for her to finish a meeting to have an extra Improv practice. I love hearing that these students are devoted to Improv and love the time they have together. On Wednesday, I dropped by Leslie’s French class to pick up some last minute things for the Fundraiser and loved what I saw; there were about 8 tables set up around the room and it didn’t take long to notice that the kids from Improv were sitting together. Once Leslie had given instruction and let the kids work on their own, one of the boys sitting on the other side of the room got up and moved to the table with his improv pals. At the small school of Options High, friendships that would not have been have been formed on the common ground of Improv.
These kids have grown so much through Improv, it’s obvious to me and it’s obvious to the teachers. Many students started off the school year shy and soft spoken and now are jumping to participate and be called on by teachers! Leslie has mentioned that fellow teachers have told her first hand about how much more lively they are in their classes now. Though I’m very thrilled about Improv For Education, I must say that I’ll be a little disappointed when Improv is over for the year. I’ve started to like being around these kids. I’ve become invested; they are such a quirky group of teens, I’m going to really miss them.

Buy tickets now @ to see the awesome show that these kids have been working so hard for!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Every child needs: a one on one relationship with a caring adult

Communities in Schools developed guiding principles called the Five Basics. These are values that guide our approach to providing relationship-based support.  

Today, we live in a society where having the traditional nuclear family is far less common than as previous generations. It’s in the change to an alternative family structure that the existence of strong relationships and support are getting lost.  Today, we live in a country where a third of teens, which represents a whopping 8+ million, and a fifth of younger children, about 5 million, lack high-quality relationships with their parents.

In response to these facts, CIS recognized a need in these children’s lives to have a high-quality relationship- be that with a role model, mentor, or simply a caring adult. Programs don’t change kids, relationships do.

It is found that these high quality relationships are necessary for succeeding in schools and preparing for life.

Take a look at this video to get a better understanding of how being a mentor can instill positive changes in a child’s life.