Happy Birthday, Edwards Garment!

How many of us make it to our 150th Birthday? Well, Edwards Garment has, so instead of scrambling for 150 candles, we thought we’d light up the blog by sharing what a spark a business partner can be for students.

A CIS supporter since 2004, Edwards Garment is a business rich in Kalamazoo history, having been a part of the community since 1867 when the Rosebaum family began producing pants for men and boys out of the Rosebaum building. Did you know the name of the company is inspired by Edwards Street, the side street in downtown Kalamazoo which the old Rosenbaum building shares with Michigan Avenue?

Today, Edwards Garment is a leading specialty image apparel and uniform supplier for men’s and women’s clothing. Their headquarters are located on South 9th Street and they employ 185 individuals from the greater Kalamazoo area.

Partnerships, like any relationship, evolve over time. This year, Edwards Garment has expanded their reach by supporting students at Prairie Ridge Elementary School. The school’s CIS Site Coordinator, Carly Denny, says the students as well as the school staff deeply appreciate their involvement. “Their support is wonderful,” she says. “They have given us generous donations of backpacks and school supplies. They’ve provided our students with lots of winter apparel. CIS was also able to pass some of the overflow of larger sizes on to our high school students at Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix.”

Edwards Garment employees commit time and energy to building a stronger community in the areas that they reside. This year, the business has also joined forces with CIS partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring to become a Bigs in Schools. “Right now we have four ‘Bigs’ working with our students,” says Carly. “The Bigs have lunch with their “Littles” twice a month. They spend an hour together and work on specific goals with their Littles. The students adore the extra attention and really thrive with this support.”

We love how Edwards Garment continues to grow with us! A while back we interviewed Gary Schultz, President and CEO of Edwards Garment. If you missed that post (or want to refresh your memory) you can read about Gary and how Edwards Garment has kids covered by going here.

 

 

 

 

A Story of Success: The Gift of Achievement

dakarieon booth

For eighth grader DeKarieon, the CIS support he’s received over the past three years at Hillside Middle School has done more than put him on the road to success in school and life. He’s also giving back by assisting other students and connecting them to CIS so they can get on track too.

“CIS has helped me with school,” he says. “I’m doing better academically. It’s helped me adjust my attitude and control my anger.” Upon meeting this calm and steady young man, it’s hard to imagine that behavior could have gotten in the way of his academics, but it did. “I would get in a couple of fights here and there,” explains DeKarieon. “My attitude, my anger, it just got in the way and I’d always be off.”

What made the difference? Getting connected to CIS. “Especially [CIS After School Coordinator] Ms. Katherine. She helped me mellow out…And then I could focus and get my homework done. I left for a while,” admits DeKarieon, as his desire to play sports conflicted with the after school support. “But then my grades started slipping again. I really want to get past high school and so I decided to come back…people like [CIS Youth Development Workers] Ms. Jay and Mr. Alex, they really helped me understand my homework and keep me focused.”

Through CIS, DeKarieon has learned to tap into his strengths to help him calm himself down and focus. “I’ll read a book, draw, or write.” DeKarieon notices a positive difference but says he isn’t yet where he wants to be. As he puts it, “I’m only half-way there.”

DeKarieon’s hard work is not going unnoticed. Ms. Jessica Jeffrey, who has been his science teacher for the past two years notes, “DeKarieon is a wonderful, polite, hard-working student. He has shown much growth and maturity in the time that I have known him. I am very proud of his accomplishments and I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful things he will do in the years to come!”

Precious Miller, CIS Site Coordinator at Hillside says, “DeKarieon is a true leader. He’s brought in several of his peers to my office. Some are in need of school supplies or some other basic need, others need snacks and some kind of support. He also advocates for students he thinks could benefit from the CIS After School Program.”

CIS After School Coordinator Katherine agrees. “He shines,” she says. “If he sees a student going off the rails, especially the younger ones, he speaks up. He’ll say, ‘Come on guys. Quiet down and listen.’ DeKarieon really is a leader. He is a kind person. He’s sensitive to other people’s feelings, and he reaches out to them.”

Empowered to succeed, thanks to the combined investment of his school, a supportive family, and the community working through CIS, DeKarieon’s future looks bright. Upon graduating from high school, DeKarieon is looking forward to taking advantage of The Kalamazoo Promise. He loves to write and tell stories and one day hopes to become a published author. He plans to attend Western Michigan University and study journalism.

If this is what “half-way there” looks like—striving to be his best as a student, exploring his gifts as an artist, writer, and musician, and helping others along the way—we can’t wait to see what it looks like when DeKarieon reaches the finish line!

All of the great work you’ve been reading about is made possible by people like you who volunteer and partner with or donate to CIS. Please invest in local students and be a part of more success stories like DaKarieon’s.

Make a gift to CIS today.

This story was featured in our 2015-16 Annual Report. Click here to read the full report. 

Keeping the Lights on for the CIS After School Program

cis-after-school-program-lights-on-afterschool-4Today millions of people throughout America are turning the lights on as part of the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool to emphasize the importance of keeping lights on and doors open for after school programs. National Lights On Afterschool Awareness Day is Thursday, October 20, 2016, and Kalamazoo Public School students will be doing their part to shed light on the need to invest in after school programs.

This week, elementary and secondary students who participate in Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) After School Programs are coming up with their own ways to shine the spotlight on quality after school support. Students are writing letters to public officials and stakeholders, making artwork, reading essays, and holding a neighborhood march to raise the public’s awareness about the need for after school opportunities.

Recent data from America After 3PM, shows a vast unmet demand for after school programs nationwide. The study found that nationally for every one child who participates in an after school program, three children would be enrolled if a program were available to them. In Michigan, the majority of parents agree that after school programs excite children about learning. More work needs to be done to meet the need for after school programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn.

cis-after-school-program-lights-on-afterschool-8“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students who attend the CIS After School Program as well as other after school programs throughout the nation,” says Dr. Linda Thompson, CIS Senior Director of Site Services. “It is a powerful reminder that after school programs offer a range of benefits to students and families. We must make sure that decision makers and other stakeholders are aware of the benefits after school programs provide and continue their support.”

CIS After School Programs extend the learning day Monday through Thursday in 15 KPS schools. A significant body of research demonstrates that students who regularly attend after school programs are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores and overall academic behavior. In the 2016/17 school year, CIS anticipates serving over 1,000 children during after school time.

CIS relies heavily on local resources and partnerships for its core work during the school day including placing CIS Site Coordinators within schools to identify needs and connect students to the right resources to remove barriers to school success. The CIS After School Program is available thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers).

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Pop Quiz: Montrell Baker  

img_6778Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Montrell Baker. Now in his second year as CIS Site Coordinator for Loy Norrix High School, Montrell serves in the very school he graduated from in  2001! As a young student, Montrell attended Lincoln for kindergarten, Parkwood Upjohn from first through sixth grade, and then Milwood Magnet Middle School. Montrell went on to earn two Master Degrees from Western Michigan University, in Education Leadership and Sport Management. A proud KPS parent of eight-year-old Luke, Montrell works closely with his CIS site team at Loy Norrix to help students stay in school and achieve in life. As he puts it, “You won’t get rich working with youth, but the reward comes from seeing them grow and get better at something. That is payment in itself.”

Alright, Mr. Baker: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

I’ve been researching alkaline diets. I’m learning about consuming more green, leafy vegetables and limiting dairy products and meat consumption.

Favorite word?

I tend to use the word smooth a lot. It fits my personality because I’m quiet and laid back. That’s how I want life to be—smooth.  As in let’s have a smooth transition. Let’s have a smooth day today.

What are you currently reading?

I’m good at starting books but don’t always finish them. Right now I’m reading The 50th Law by 50 Cent. It’s based on a book written by Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power.

Will you finish this one?

I will. My sister got me the book. She’s a big reader and can usually find books that keep my attention.

You graduated from Loy Norrix High School. Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?

Three come to mind. Mr. [Derek] Wheaton was my second grade teacher at Parkwood. He was a great, great teacher.  I saw him recently during TJ Duckett’s Turkey Drive and he recognized me, even remembered my first and last name.

Mr. [Adam] Hosler was my math teacher at Norrix. He was knowledgeable, funny and allowed me to be myself in class. Math was my favorite subject. He’d write out his agenda and assignments for the week. When I’d finished all my work, he gave me more. He worked with me and kept my attention. He’s still teaching at Norrix.

Coach Chris Andrews—he’s now Portage Northern’s head baseball coach—he was one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever encountered. He knew how to relate with student athletes, knew how to discipline and keep us on track. We were 8-1 in football. Being a coach now [coaching his son’s team and having coached Linden Grove Middle School girls and boys hoops and football at Kalamazoo Central] I tailor my style after Coach Andrews.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a head coach for varsity football. As I got older, that changed to athletic director/assistant principal.  Now as a Site Coordinator, I have the opportunity to serve in a  leadership capacity, supporting students by overseeing the supports and programs that come through our school-based program. I really enjoy working with the youth.

Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who is your caring adult?

Two. My mom and my grandad. My mom she always instilled in my sister and me early on to be a leader and not a follower. Always give your best and work hard. Let your work speak for you. You don’t need to be much of a talker. Let your actions speak for you. My mom’s always there for moral support. When I was younger, she was there at 95% of my school and sporting events, cheering me on.

My grandfather, Les Owens, instilled discipline in me, taught me that once I start something I have to finish it. Don’t quit. Be a man of your word. Be a man of confidence. I looked up to him as a kid. He was a deacon in the church and he also coached rocket football. Growing up in Northside neighborhood, I’d see all types of people look up to him and come to him for help.

Thank you, Montrell!

 

I am

marigoldHere is a lovely poem written by seven-year-old Sevati. She wrote this during the CIS Think Summer! program.* Sevati attends Woods Lake Elementary School: A Magnet Center for the Arts. She is also part of Kalamazoo Kids in Tune, a partnership among The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Public Schools, and Communities In Schools. What a talented young lady!

 

 

 

I am

I am a seed
I wonder what I will be
I hear sounds
I see dirt in the ground
I want to be a beautiful flower
I am a sprout

I pretend I’m not there
I feel lonely when I don’t have friends
I touch my eyes
I worry I’m not going to grow
I cry when I’m sad
I am a stem

I understand I’m growing
I say I can be whatever I choose
I dream I’ll be a beautiful flower
I try not to cry when I’m sad
I hope I’m a flower
I am a beautiful flower

                      -Sevati

 

*CIS Think Summer! is funded by the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers).

Requests for Proposals

We are currently looking for individuals and organizations to provide programs or services to elementary and/or secondary students in the 2016-17 CIS After School program. These programs should meet identified student needs and interests in the fields of:

Literacy (reading & writing)
Math
Social-emotional skills
Life skills
Career exploration
Physical health
Performing arts
Visual arts
Science

 

We are issuing an RFP with the goal of finding the best enrichment programs and services for our students:

 

  1. To meet their identified needs and interests
  2. To fully utilize the limited funds/resources available
  3. To ensure that a broad array of organizations and individuals have the opportunity to submit a proposal
  4. To find providers who are committed to serving this community’s students, even after the grant that funds these programs concludes.

 

The Request for Proposal and Partnership Profile can be found below or through this link.

Proposals can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to Colleen Loc:

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo
125 W. Exchange Place
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Fx: 269.385.5806
Email: cloc@ciskalamazoo.org

To receive earliest consideration, submit an original proposal and two (2) copies, following the format provided on subsequent pages 4-6, by Wednesday, August 17, 2016. You will receive notification of a final decision regarding your proposal via a letter.

The Beat of Summer

Writing poems during CIS Think Summer!
Writing poems during CIS Think Summer!

Students are packing a lot of fun and learning into these six weeks of their CIS Think Summer! program*. At the Prairie Ridge Elementary School site, Kalamazoo Kids in Tune (a partnership between Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Public Schools) have been making music and more.

Totally focused and bringing a new poem into the world!
Totally focused and bringing a new poem into the world!

If you visited the summer program during the last week in July and stepped into the “Italy” group, rising 5th-7th graders, you would have overheard student conversations like this:

“Is poetry considered art or is it academics?”
“It’s academic because we’re learning about it during our academic time.”
“Yea, we talked about adjectives and abstract nouns.”
“I think poetry is art. It makes me feel inside like when I do art.”
“It feels a little bit like music, too.”
“I think it’s both.”

What do you think? You can ponder this question as you read two new poems created by Sahriah and Javan. These KIT students, along with the rest of their classmates, created poems inspired by Jo Harjo’s poem, “She had some horses.” These are just two examples of the tremendous student work being done at all levels throughout CIS Think Summer!

We played some music

She played some songs.
He played his instrument that was out of tune.
She played her songs that were sounding good.
I played Barber of Seville that didn’t sound as good.

Sahriah played some orchestra music.

Gabby played in a concert with Mozart.
Ann played conga with Nathan.
Zach played the blues that sounded happy.

LaMeeka played some cello music.
Naomi played some flute music with Nyareve.
Miyah played some clarinet songs with Javon.

This was the same music.

                                             -Sahriah Casey

 

I played some fragile chords of truth

I played some frantic tunes of beauty.
He played applause in dreams that were tired.
She played a measure of music that was colorful.
He played cute keys that were full of courage.

She played some waltz music.

I played instruments with care.
I played colorful measures with amazement.
He played music that moved us.

He played some chords.
She played some concert music that changed the world.
She played some beautiful tunes from the waltz.

This was the same waltz.

-Javan Harris

 

Cheers to all the youth development workers, site coordinators, VISTAs, volunteers, and school and community partners who are working together to provide the best CIS Think Summer! yet! Cheers to horses, poetry, and music, too!

*The CIS Think Summer! program is funded by the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers.)

_______________, youth development worker with CIS, supporting students as they create poetry.
Miss Viri, youth development worker with CIS, supporting students as they create poetry.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring

Today we highlight Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring, one of seven school and community partners honored with a 2016 Champ Award. Their award was sponsored by BASIC and CIS board member James Ritsema presented the award.

BASIC & BBBS
From BBBS, accepting their Champ Award, right to left): Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer, Carmen James, Match Support Specialist, and Ann Woolley, President-elect. They are joined (right to left) by Fritz Teutsch, President of BASIC, Mike Stoddard, Executive Vice President/Principal of BASIC and James Ritsema, Kalamazoo City Manager and CIS board member.

Strategic partnerships strengthen Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo’s ability to meet the needs of the over 9,000 young people we serve. To have the biggest impact on learning, CIS aligns with those who offer evidence-based approaches. Over a decade ago, when CIS Site Coordinators positioned within the Kalamazoo Public Schools began identifying students in need of mentoring, the choice was clear. CIS turned to Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring.

Partnership, like a healthy marriage, demands commitment and energy. It’s an adventure that can take you further than going it alone. Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters says, “CIS is critical to us. We have a powerful partnership and are able to provide services directly to the kids that need them. CIS is the link that makes sure we are able to reach the kids who are in the greatest need of our services.”

Those services, whether it’s school-based mentoring, Bigs on Campus, or Bigs in Business, require a planned, coordinated effort to magnify outcomes for students. Artrella Cohn, CIS Director of Secondary Sites says, “Big Brothers Big Sisters staff are always available to work with us on barriers and challenges that naturally arise when implementing and expanding any program. We work together,” she says, “to improve processes to ensure students are being served at fullest capacity. Right now, we’re discussing how we can expand Bigs in Business to more schools next year.”

Local businesses, brought under the Bigs in Business umbrella, help reach more students than ever before. Big Brothers Big Sisters works in concert with CIS so that, twice a month, Kalamazoo Central High School students can take a van to Stryker, Loy Norrix High School students head to Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Stryker, while middle school students from Maple Street go to National Flavors. Students make connections beyond themselves, working one on one and in small groups with the employees-mentors. It widens their world. As CIS Site Coordinator Deborah Yarbrough puts it, “It’s highly motivating for students; we’re seeing them take more initiative and responsibility—whether it’s getting homework turned in or chores done at home.” CIS Success Coach Jenna Cooperrider agrees. At the start of the school year, she consulted with Deborah on a student who was failing school and at-risk of dropping out. “We connected him to Big Brothers Big Sisters and that,” says Jenna, “was his turning point. Today, he’s not just passing all of his classes, he’s getting A’s and B’s!”

CIS site teams throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools engage in similar conversations for students. For those needing one of the CIS basics: a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult or a marketable skill to use upon graduation, they know they can count on Big Brothers Big Sisters to deliver.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

Representing Big Brothers Big Sisters at Champs (left to right) Cindy Schrauben, Communications Manager, Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer, and Ann Woolley, President-elect.
Representing Big Brothers Big Sisters at Champs (left to right) Cindy Schrauben, Communications Manager, Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer, and Ann Woolley, President-elect.