Storms All Around Us

Lately, it feels as if storms are all around us. Right now, the Kalamazoo community is weathering its own tragedy of the five young people who were killed in the horrific car accident. These beautiful children, who had their whole lives before them, leave behind devastated parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, and others. As their loved ones and our community deals with these staggering losses, our hearts reach out to them.

Our care and concern also go out to those beyond our Kalamazoo borders.

Our extended CIS family is also much on our minds as they begin the recovery process from the recent hurricanes of Harvey and Irma. CIS affiliates, the CIS staff, the children and families they serve—and their school and community partners and volunteers have been impacted by these storms. In Texas alone, the Texas state office, 11 CIS affiliates, and about 335,000 students enrolled in schools served by those affiliates have been affected. Unfortunately, two young people, CIS alumni who were living out one of the Five CIS Basics—giving back to peers and community—lost their lives while rescuing people. While in service to others, their boat was caught in the flood waters, overturned, and they drowned.

We can think of no more catastrophic event than that of young lives cut short, from the two young men from over a thousand miles away to the five young people here in our midst, we hold you in our hearts.

National CIS has convened a response team at the National Office to determine how best to support students and the staff during the recovery process. If you would like to support CIS affiliates impacted by Hurricane Harvey, go here.

CIS Think Summer! Students Visited by Special Guest

When you hear the White House has a bowling alley downstairs!

Students recently welcomed Congressman Fred Upton to their CIS Think Summer! program at Arcadia Elementary School. Like CIS After School (which serves 750 students in 15 after school sites throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools),  CIS Think Summer! was in full swing this year (for both elementary and secondary students) thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. CIS Think Summer! served 250 students in grades 1-9 from 15 Kalamazoo Public schools. It provided 24 days (144 hours) of programming designed to reduce summer learning loss and increase academic and enrichment opportunities.  Students participated in reading, writing and math programming, enrichment activities, college and career exploration, and experiential learning.

Congressman Upton visited the elementary summer site which was held this year at Arcadia Elementary School. Congressman Upton stepped into a fifth grade classroom and fielded a number of questions from the students. One of the highlights for students (and staff) was when one fifth grader asked “What’s fun to do there [at the White House]?” The students were amazed to learn that there is a bowling alley in the White House basement.

During his visit, the Congressman also saw Kalamazoo Kids in Tune (KKIT) in action, which is a partnership among The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Public Schools. He saw individual sectional practices and was treated to a performance by the entire KKIT orchestra.

Congressman Upton, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit and see what our kids have been learning throughout these six weeks to combat the summer slide! Our students enjoyed learning about your career and all the things you do in Washington, D.C. that are connected to their lives back in Southwest Michigan. As you and many of our readers know, the federal budget for 2017-18 (which begins October 1, 2017) proposed by the President completely eliminates funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. On behalf of our 12,000 + kids, thank you for supporting continued funding for the 21st CCLC Community Learning Centers which make critical extending learning possible for KPS students during the school year and summer. This kind of support will help them graduate, use The Kalamazoo Promise and have a great career too.

Note: Any reduction to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers would have significant impact for our kids not just here in Kalamazoo but throughout Michigan. An article that recently ran in MLive addresses this. You can read it here.

 

Welcome, Dr. Montgomery!

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo welcomes the ninth president of Western Michigan University, Dr. Edward Montgomery, who began his tenure one week ago.

Western Michigan University partners with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) throughout 20 Kalamazoo Public schools to help kids stay in school and achieve in life. Here are just a few ways WMU has worked with CIS and the Kalamazoo Public Schools to support our 12,000+ kids:

 

 

We look forward to our continued partnership with WMU and what the future will bring with Dr. Montgomery at the helm.

Dr. Montgomery earned a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and both master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Harvard University. He comes to WMU from Georgetown University where he served as professor of economics and dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy since 2010. No stranger to Kalamazoo, he has coauthored research with CIS Board Member Randall Eberts of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research—not to mention that his son is a recent WMU grad!

You can learn more about WMU’s new president, Dr. Edward Montgomery, by clicking on the links below:

Official WMU biography: http://wmich.edu/president/biography

Go here for Second Wave Media’s “Nine questions about Dr. Edward B. Montgomery, WMU’s ninth president.”

WMUK’s Gordon Evans interviewed Dr. Montgomery in May and rebroadcast it last week on WestSouthwest. You can listen to it here.

Click here for “10 things to know about Western Michigan University’s new president” from MLIVE.

What is the CIS Board Reading in 2017?

 

We know it’s important for kids to read. But we shouldn’t forget, it’s also important for our 12,000+ kids that they see grownups reading too! What have you been reading this summer? A few months ago, we asked Communities In Schools board members what they are reading. Here’s what some of them said:

 

I am currently reading Centered Leadership by Joanna Barsh. I attended a Johnson and Johnson Women’s Leadership Initiative and heard Joanna speak. I loved her stories and the research she has placed into this book.

-Jen Randall

 

QBQ! The Question behind the Question by John G. Miller.

-David Maurer

 

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

-Patti Sholler-Barber

 

I am reading two books right now:  Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Never Caught by Erica Dunbar.

-Pamela C. Enslen

 

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

-Janice Brown

 

I’m actually reading the Kalamazoo Community Read: Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

-Tony McDonnell

 

Looking for more ideas for summer reads? Check out the JULY 2017 INDIE NEXT LIST, which is recommendations from independent booksellers.

 

 

Duo Helps Students Succeed Every Day

This article was featured in our CIS Connections newsletter, The Double Issue. You can find the full publication here.

What happens when you bring a Knight and Giant together? You get the powerhouse team of CIS Site Coordinator Tamiko Garrett and CIS After School Coordinator Jenee McDaniel. These two graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools sat down with us to reflect on the work they do at Linden Grove Middle School to help students stay in school and achieve in life.

How do you two work together to provide cohesive, seamless support from daytime through after school to help students get and stay on track to graduation?

Tamiko: Jenee and I have open communication with each other. When we enroll students in CIS, we keep in mind whether the student would be best served with daytime or after school. It’s always about what is the best fit for the student and their family.

Jenee: We’re in constant communication, whether it’s on the phone, touching base in the morning, during the day, after school. We often re-evaluate situations and are always open to making adjustments to services or resources we have in place. To do this work well, you have to think out of the box. We do that. If we need to meet on a Sunday night to make something happen, so be it.

What qualities do you admire in each other that help you work so well together?

Tamiko: Jenee and I are opposite in so many ways and that makes us a good team. We play to each other’s strengths. Jenee is so genuine and I also admire her outspokenness. I observe, then choose my words.

What’s the easiest part about working together?

Jenee: We both have a good understanding of what needs to be done. There’s no competition between us. We can count on each other. I know that Tamiko’s not just checking off the boxes to get something done. She really cares and is knowledgeable about her job. I respect that.

What’s the most challenging aspect when it comes to collaborating?

Jenee: We’re here to do what we’re here to do. It helps that we collaborate on everything, from how we communicate, to our schedules, to how we’re going to best serve these students. We have a process that works well in this school.

Tamiko: So when we get our enrollment list—kids with a strategic needs in attendance, behavior, or academics who could possibly benefit from CIS support to become proficient in one or more of the areas—we sit down with our Principal, Craig McCane and Ms. Mahannah of the Student Services team. They know the kids and their input is invaluable. After we’ve worked out a game plan, Jenee and I lead mini “lunch & learns” with the students. We explain CIS, the various resources, and how that support looks in the day and after school. It’s not just an adult- or parent- driven process: “you’re going to do this!” but kids are involved from the beginning. Because they feel a sense of ownership from the start, they’re more invested and stick with the program. Linden Grove Middle School makes it easy to collaborate, from Principal McCane, to the teachers and staff, to the school secretaries, Heather Morrison and Linda Farrell, and the custodian, Michael Watson.

Jenee: The school has made us feel like we’re a part of their team, so it’s easy for us to be a team with each other and do our jobs. We both regularly check and monitor students’ progress and grades. Students do better when they know someone is going to supply their needs and hold them accountable. For students to graduate, a lot of pieces must come together. First off, basic needs must be met. It’s that whole Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Tamiko, in her role as Site Coordinator, provides a lot of that, tapping CIS Kids’ Closet. It’s the simplest things that can be a deal breaker and keep a student from graduating. It’s cold out and they don’t have a coat. They need a snack, a shirt, a feminine hygiene product. The students know they can come to CIS to get those things. They know that the community is providing this support, that somebody has their back and cares. They aren’t a number because they know ‘somebody is thinking about me.’

What has CIS at Linden Grove been doing to impact social emotional learning (SEL), one of six CIS program goals for the year?

Tamiko: Right now, we have Hospice doing an eight week grief and loss group. Hospice is an awesome partner. Usually, when you think of Hospice you think of someone dying, but there are many types of losses and Hospice helps our kids deal with them—separation of parents, divorce, witnessing the death of a loved one, or whatever form loss takes, period. Sometime, all our kids can think about is their loss. Cate, the therapist is helping them gain coping skills so they can focus on their academics.

Jenee: After school, we have a girls’ group, “I Am Beautiful” as well as “Young Men Overcoming Barriers.” We come up with a game plan, activities, and question starters for each of the groups. Say the activity is doing facials, then questions asked might be, What do people see in you? What do you see in yourself? Soon enough, someone asks if the group can talk about being two-faced and so friendships and other real issues like that get explored.

We help the kids do this in a safe forum. We’ve used movies and TV clips as well as correlating music with feelings. What’s your family’s song? If you had to write the sound track of your life, what would it be? The students connect with these approaches so it allows for conversations and reflections around a whole range of topics: non-traditional family situations, dating situations, who is your safe person to talk to, race, and cultural acceptance. Each day, we have a plan and an idea of what we want to accomplish and the kids roll it in a new direction and take it elsewhere. It’s real cool and that’s how it should be.

What’s Staring At You?

 

It’s poetry month and we couldn’t let it slip by without posting a poem.

Poetry isn’t afraid to handle difficult topics. Ignoring, denying, or pretending that something doesn’t exist, doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes, we must name that which stares us in the face. By giving it a name and dragging it into the light, we see it for what it is. Samantha Hoehle does just this with her brave poem, “A Constant Battle.”  A senior at Kalamazoo Central High School, Samantha wrote this on the campus of Western Michigan University during a “Courage to Create” poetry workshop offered as part of Kalamazoo’s annual MLK Day Celebration.

 

A Constant Battle

Racism stares at me from across the table.
Callous, he tries to fill my head with beliefs that cut me to the core.
I do not want to live with him.
I do not want him to talk to me.
I wish he would disappear.
But he has dug his roots deep into the earth—
And while many of us try to uproot him,
Others create avalanches of hatred and ignorance
Pushing the dirt back into our holes,
Adamant he stays.
Racism reaches out his hand to “help” us,
Sneering upon rejection,
Blatantly stating he is in the right.
But no. He is wrong.
Racism tries to creep in, and I push him out, continuing to dig.
I will not let him turn me into something he would be proud to see.
I am not sorry.

Samantha Hoehle

 

And if you missed the two student poems we published back in January, you can find them here.

 

What Are CIS Partners Reading?

 

We can’t get enough of what you are reading! And a number of you can’t either! Some of you have even emailed and called and stopped us on the street to let us know how much you are enjoying this “What are you reading?” series. So we wondered, what are our wonderful partners up to in the world of books?

Here’s what a few of them said.

 

That was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton.

-Cate Jarvis, School Grief Support Counselor, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan

 

I just started A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and also just finished 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles Mann, which was a fascinating read on the consequences of early globalization.

-John Curran, Executive Director, First Day Shoe Fund

 

I just finished reading a novel written by William P. Young entitled The Shack. I love to read the book prior to seeing newly released movies. I just started reading a leadership book written Jon Gordon entitled The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.

-Lola Amos, Director of Programs, Prevention Works

 

I’m reading Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, by M.T. Anderson. It explores a dark and grim period in Russian history as experienced and expressed through the life and work of the famous composer. It was actually written as a book for teenagers, whom the author clearly regards as capable readers who can handle the real story. I highly recommend it as a captivating foray into a dense and difficult historical subject, especially as we grapple with deeply divided social and political beliefs in our own society.

Liz Youker, Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

 

I am reading The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.

-Julie Righter, Manager Operational Excellence, Pfizer Kalamazoo

 

I generally read several books at a time. I am currently reading The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud, Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker, and Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.

-Sherry Thomas-Cloud, CEO, Family & Children Services

 

I am currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It is a powerful novel that tells the story of a pre-Civil War slave named Cora. I’m also reading Kareem Abdul Jamar’s Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.

-Jane Baas, Associate Dean of WMU Lee Honors College (and coordinator of WMU Medallion Scholars who volunteer at Milwood Magnet Middle School)

 

I’m reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

-Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring

 

I am participating in the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Community Read. The book is: Writings On the Wall authored by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeldand. I am also honored to be facilitating one of the chapter discussions at the Douglass Community Associations Powell Branch Library. [Note: This Reading Together event with Von Washington Jr., Dick Shilts, and Beth Washington took place last night. A KPS student in attendance said it was “really good and made you think.”]

-Von Washington Jr., Executive Director of Community Relations, Kalamazoo Promise

 

Thanks for letting us know what you’ve been reading! And thanks, especially, for working with us to help kids stay in school and succeed in life!

Here at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, we’re officially expanding March Reading Month into April. In a few weeks, you can learn what CIS board members are reading!

 

 

 

 

 

What Are CIS Staff Reading?

 

Last week, as part of National Reading Month, we learned what some of our Communities In Schools (CIS) volunteers are reading. (You can click here if you missed the post.) This week, some of our CIS staff tell us what they are reading…

 

 

The Lovely Ladies of Literature Book Club (my book club) is currently reading, Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America by C. Nicole Mason.

Artrella Cohn, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Student Investment

 

I’m currently reading Gilded Cage, Book 1 in the Dark Gifts Series by Vic James. It is a dystopian fantasy set in present day England where magical aristocrats rule over the non-magical commoners, forcing them to serve as slaves for 10 years in order to become full citizens. I absolutely love it and can’t wait for the rest of the series to come out!

Donielle Hetrick, CIS After School Coordinator, Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts

 

The last book I read and was able to finish was The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies (who happens to currently be on the faculty at University of Michigan!) The book explores different aspects of the Asian-American experience through four individuals who live during different time periods of U.S. history. I also started (and hope to finish) Angela Lee Duckworth’s book, Grit:  The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Emily Kobza, Director of Development & Business Engagement

 

Annually, during Black History Month, I revisit W.E.B. Dubois’ book, The Souls of Black Folk. It serves as a reminder of two things for me. First, that the plight of social justice has always been worth the work, and second, there is literally nothing new under the sun.

-Stacy S. Jackson, CIS After School Coordinator, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I am current reading Arena 3 by Morgan Rice—the third book to the Arena Series. This is a dystopian fantasy book, which takes place after the second American Civil War where there is nothing left except visions of what was and Arena’s ran by slave-runners seeking to capture survivors to fight in death stadiums in the most barbaric of ways, which promises to leave no survivors.

Aisha Coulson-Walters, Senior Site Coordinator Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary

 

I have been reading the Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card; I had to special order the last book, The Crystal City, and I’m waiting… I also just finished the book our school is reading for Literacy Night, Hidden Talents, by David Lubar—fun book about kids with psychic abilities. I’m currently reading a book of short stories by Ted Chiang entitled Stories of Your Life and Others.

Katherine Williamson, CIS After School Coordinator, Hillside Middle School

 

I am currently rereading both Real Boys: Rescuing our sons from the Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack and Long Walk to Freedom, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

Emily Demorest, CIS Senior Site Coordinator,Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts
I’m listening to an audible version of The Trespasser by Tana French (audio is needed to capture the fantastic Irish accents) and reading The Explosive Child by Ross Greene.

Deb Faling, Social-Emotional Health Initiatives

 

I just finished The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

Maggie Walters, CIS After School Coordinator, Milwood Magnet School & CIS Success Coach, Loy Norrix High School

 

I am in a SKYPE book study with friends in Indiana and Pennsylvania. We are reading The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.  In spite of the fact that these men, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, have lived more than 50 years in exile and endured many hardships their lives are filled with joy.  How do they do it? How can we? Through this book we are in the daily presence of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop for an intense one week period. It is an interesting book to read because you have a peek into this special time together. They enjoy being with each other and sharing stories and laughter as they consider obstacles to and pillars of living a life of JOY.

Linda Thompson, Senior Director of Site Services

 

I am currently listening to Duet by Kimberley Freeman. A story of passion, greed, secrets, and lies. Before that, I read Wildflower Hill, also by Kimberly Freeman. (This one should be read with several boxes of tissues on hand.) A story of family and secrets and the redemptive power of love.

Debra Newsome, Senior Director of Finance, Human Resources and Administration

 

I am currently enjoying Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series as there is one going in each room of our house. Next up will be the Who Was/Who Is series with Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling. I read what my kid reads. We most recently finished all the Harry Potter books. We read and re-read The Adventures of Tashi, by Anna Fienberg recommended by Derek at Bookbug. Highly recommend that for readers of all ages. (Bookbug and Tashi!)

Molly Appeldoorn, CIS After School Site Coordinator, Milwood Elementary School

 

The most recent book I’ve finished is Americanah by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie, which I LOVED. This very complex story is difficult to summarize, but what I appreciated most was following the modern immigration journey of the main character, Ifemelu, as she comes to terms with her blackness in the U.S. as a young woman from Nigerian. I just started reading The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America’s Dilemma, which is about the unresolved murder of a young black teenager in the early 90s, and the racial divide that exists between Benton Harbor and St. Joe, Michigan.

Brionne Fonville, CIS After School Coordinator, El Sol Elementary

 

I am currently reading the New Testament and I am in Romans.  I absolutely loved the story of Paul in Acts which I just finished.  I am also reading a book called God’s Promises edited by Jack Countryman.

Keith Platte, Senior Site Coordinator, Milwood Magnet School

 

I am reading Program Evaluation for Social Workers by Richard Grinnell, Peter Gabor, and Yvonne Unrau.

-January Haulenbeek, CIS Site Coordinator, Northglade Montessori Magnet School

 

I’m reading several books (slowly)…

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – a memoir of his experience as a lawyer in the judicial system and the lack of justice, particularly that people of color and youth are receiving.

Also reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – another powerful story of racial tensions and injustice in our communities.

With my small group: Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr – speaks to the exploration of how we move from the periphery to the center in our spiritual lives.

With my kids: The Wingfeather Series (book 4) by Andrew Peterson – sort of a mix of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for kids – really fun and engaging.

For Work: just finished Lost at School by Ross Greene (this is what we covered in PD last Friday!) and continuing to work through Bloom: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top  Kids by Lynne Kenny and Wendy Young – the title kind of says it all.

Cara Weiler, LMSW, Associate Director of Site Services

 

I am currently reading The 15 Invaluable Laws Of Growth by John C. Maxwell.

-Deborah Yarbrough, CIS Site Coordinator, Kalamazoo Central High School

 

I am reading the Bible, which I do daily. I am starting Judges today. I am also, like Cara, trying to read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult which my mom recommended because she is an avid reader. I use to be, but not so much anymore.

Tracie Hall, Finance Coordinator

 

It’s my trifecta:  life, work, and hobby.

Life: The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton.
Work/Life: Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen, recommended by Principal Micole Dyson.
Hobby: Dronings from a Queen Bee: The First Five Years, preparing for my spring hive inspections.

-Maureen Cartmill, CIS Site Coordinator, Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts

 

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It’s non-fiction. “William E. Dodd was an academic historian, living a quiet life in Chicago, when Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him United States ambassador to Germany. It was 1933, Hitler had recently been appointed chancellor, the world was about to change.” Also, The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai. It’s fiction. “The Hundred-Year House may be crowded with the tropes and tricks of classic horror, but make no mistake: It’s not a horror story. Rebecca Makkai’s style, a patchwork of ambition and aw-shucks charm, lets in just enough sunlight to scatter those things that go bump in the night.”

-Keely Novotny, CIS Site Coordinator, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I am reading Persuasion by Jane Austen and The Book of Joy by the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu.

-Amy Terzino, Executive Assistant

 

I am reading two very different books—

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Tom Friedman (whose other books, e.g. The World Is Flat I have very much appreciated).

The other book is Our Black Sons Matter edited by George Yancy, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson and Susan Hadley; it is a series of conversations and essays by mothers.  I just started it so don’t have a feel for it yet.

-Pam Kingery, Executive Director

 

Thank you all for sharing! Keep checking in with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids to find out what some of our CIS partners and board members are reading.