17 New Sparks with CIS

The 2017/18 CIS interns. (Front row, left to right): Joe Conrad, Janae McEwen, Angie Franklin, Alyssa Borkowski, and Kaleigh Walters. (Back, left to right): Alyssa Smith, Matthew Krieger, Kelsey Nimtz, Courtney Mahaffy, Kali Hancock, Dan Sullivan, Karly Poole, Travis Guerrero, Neala Smith, Kayla Garrett, and Blaec Arevalo. Not pictured: Karynn Taylor and Ernest Bell.

This is the largest group of interns CIS has yet to connect to the schools! Seventeen of the students attend Western Michigan University and one attends Spring Arbor University and is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Social Work. Of the WMU students, eight are working towards their bachelor’s degree in the School of Social Work, five towards their Master’s in Social Work, three working towards their Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services and one towards their Bachelors of Science in Family Studies.

In no particular order, here are the interns and the schools’ CIS site teams they will be joining. (Drum roll, please): Dan Sullivan (Loy Norrix High School), Courtney Mahaffy (Northglade Montessori Magnet School), Kali Hancock (Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts), Kelsey Nimtz (Spring Valley Center for Exploration), Matthew Krieger (Woodward School for Technology and Research), Kayla Garrett (Hillside Middle School), Travis  Guerrero (Milwood Magnet Middle School), Karly Poole (Linden Grove Middle School), Blaec Arevalo (El Sol Elementary School), Neala Smith (Edison Environmental Science Academy), Alyssa Smith (Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts), Janae McEwen (Prairie Ridge Elementary School), Angie Franklin (Washington Writers’ Academy and Linden Grove Middle School), Neala Smith (Edison Environmental Science Academy), Alyssa Borkowski (Woodward School for Technology and Research), Joseph Conrad (Kalamazoo Central High School), Kaleigh Walters (Spring Valley Center For Exploration), Karynn Taylor (Lincoln  International Studies School), and Ernest Bell (Milwood Elementary).

We popped our quiz on these newest members of the CIS family and compiled their answers below.

Alright, interns: pencils out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

  • Wisdom does not always come with age.
  • In Norway, the maximum prison sentence is 14 years.
  • How awesome Communities In Schools is!
  • A Mobile Health Clinic makes stops to local KPS schools for students who need access to them.
  • Boys are a group currently struggling with academics. Our CIS caseloads will be 60% boys, 40% girls.
  • There is an American Sign Language minor now offered at WMU.
  • Learning some Spanish here and there.
  • I’ve recently been interested in Brené Brown’s work on love/belonging and shame/fear. She talks about how love is what you allow your authentic, vulnerable self to be seen and accepted, and how shame, fear, and self-doubt often get in the way.
  • There is a printer that will staple your papers for you.
  • How to play golf.
  • All of the great resources for kids around Kalamazoo.
  • A co-worker of mine used to be employed with CIS.
  • New workout circuit for lower body with bands.
  • Recently, I’ve learned several new ways to participate in self-care.
  • The urge to kill cute things comes from evolution.
  • Expanded my understanding of positive reinforcement.

 What are you currently reading?

What do you love about Kalamazoo?

  • The focus and dedication the community has to helping the students.
  • I think the downtown scene is very cool. There is a lot going on.
  • I love that Kalamazoo is full of diverse cultures. I like eating all different types of food, going to art openings, and local festivals. Oh, also we have live music and good beer. I just went to see Verve Pipe at Bell’s Beer Garden.
  • The resources available to the community.
  • I love that Kalamazoo has a lot of donors and organizations that like to give back to the community.
  • It’s where I grew up and, as a community, we try to support and stick together as a family.
  • The food.
  • How beautiful downtown is.
  • I like that it is a bigger city with a lot of fun things to do.
  • The complexity, yet closeness, of everything.
  • The downtown culture.
  • TNT and soul food.
  • I love being in Kalamazoo because there is always something to do.
  • The arts and diversity.
  • The atmosphere. There’s always something to see and do.
  • The sense of a small town and the community. It reminds me of home.

What is your favorite word right now?

  • Persistence
  • Accomplish
  • Gnarly
  • Fascination
  • Endeavor
  • Indeed
  • Energy
  • Fantastic
  • Free
  • Creative
  • Success
  • Fabulous
  • Gooey
  • Communication & wisdom
  • Interesting
  • Extremely

Will you share with us something that has been on your mind lately?

  • How will I use my Master’s degree to make a positive impact of children’s lives? I am interested in being exposed to the potential job opportunities this degree will offer me.
  • My girlfriend, who lives in Boston. Her name is Dulce, and she’s going to accomplish great things for vulnerable and oppressed people.
  • Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing seasons. Fall is one of my favorite seasons so I am excited.
  • The possible threat of nuclear war with North Korea.
  • Moving to a whole new state and finding out where everything is at can be very overwhelming, as well as meeting new people.
  • Taking advantage of every opportunity given and appreciating the little moments in life.
  • Finding a way to come up with some form of a resource that can aide me on how to connect and strategically teach my current 7th graders and how to grasp the new math curriculum of “Engage” New York Math.
  • What life will be like after graduation. I often daydream about my career potential and wonder where I will be living.
  • Trying to live more mindfully and in the present moment, rather than living in the past or future.
  • Since I am a senior, pretty soon I’ll be applying to WMU’s Master program. It’s a long process of applying and then months of waiting. I’m hoping to be accepted into the advanced standing program.
  • I would like to go back to Western and get my Master’s degree in social work. I would not mind being a school social worker since I enjoy kids. I know that I would be good working in the school system, plus I enjoy learning and helping people who want to succeed in school.
  • Graduation and how close I am to finally being finished with my BS.
  • Grad school and where I will be living a year from now.
  • Graduation and my next step in my career. Grad school is on my mind, also the holidays.
  • Post-graduation and the future.
  • My future. I’m getting ready to graduate and have been thinking a lot about the future and what I’m going to do following graduation.

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

  • My two high school football coaches and my high school math teacher.
  • My parents are my biggest support system.
  • My parents.
  • My mom.
  • My mother has always been my caring adult.
  • My brother is my caring adult.
  • My father and my 19 year old daughter.
  • My parents.
  • My aunt.
  • My mother pushed me through elementary through high school and my father has gotten me through the end of my college career.
  • My momma and first high school teacher.
  • My father. Just the way he speaks to me of family and friends helps keep me focused.
  • My best friend, Jessica.
  • My professors at Western, a few memorable instructors in particular.
  • My mom. She has always been there for me, no matter what.
  • My parents are both very supportive and caring.

Thank you, interns! Welcome aboard!

Pop Quiz: Jennifer Swan

Welcome 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 CIS volunteer Jennifer Swan. Senior Architectural Project Coordinator with TowerPinkster, Swan’s work schedule makes it difficult for her to volunteer on a weekly, consistent basis. Yet, she wanted to help kids stay in school and succeed in life. She came up with a creative solution and developed the Swan Snack Emporium which supports CIS Kid’s Closet. True to her name, Swan is helping children connect with their inherent beauty and value by giving kids the basics they need to stay in school and learn with dignity. You can learn about this initiative in the latest CIS Connections “Back-to-School” newsletter.

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

POP QUIZ

Since 1953, TowerPinkster, a design firm, has been creating vibrant places for people to live, work and play. As you know, TowerPinkster has received a number of awards. TP was named one of the “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the Nation” (National Association of Business Resources). TP was also awarded “Best Firm to Work For in the Nation” (ZweigWhite). From your perspective, what makes TP the best and the brightest?  

What I think makes us the best are the people. We are like a family. We have two offices, in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and although it’s a little harder these days—we’ve added quite a few new people to both offices and I don’t get up to the Grand Rapids office as much as I used—we used to know everybody and know everything that everybody is doing.

TowerPinkster is a family culture and we have a lot of fun. It’s not just coming to work. It’s coming in to work with your friends, what seems like brothers and sisters, more often than not. It’s a great environment and we have a ton of fun here.

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

I learn something every single day with my job. There are always new things happening in the construction industry, whether it’s new process or new people you work with. There’s not just one thing that I can give you that is something that I’ve learned because I learn every day on my job. Every single day I learn from contractors and learn from the construction managers on the project site. I learn from project managers here, even our interns that come in who know the new tech stuff that I don’t know, so I’m always learning.

What are you currently reading?

While I don’t have time to sit down and read a full book right now, I get on the internet and I read a lot of blogs and news articles.

Besides Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, what are your ‘go-to’ blogs?

The type of blogs I turn to are ones that I can learn new things related to my work and to learn how other people are doing things so I can make myself better and faster at my job.

What is your favorite word right now?

My favorite word right now is strength, not like muscle strength but strength as in being a woman in a male-dominated field. You have to have a lot of strength and tenacity to go on job sites and be with a lot of men that are very experienced in the construction industry. I don’t build stuff, but I know how stuff is supposed to go together. It’s being able to hold my own on job sites and here in the office. I mean, the guys here are great and they’re very, very easy to work with and nobody’s ever like, You’re a girl and you don’t know what you’re doing. But it’s important to always have an understanding of what you’re talking about.

What’s your story behind getting into this line of work?

I think I got into this line of work because of my mother. When she was growing up, she and many women of that time were taught that women could be a secretary or go into teaching. I think she always wanted to be an architect because she was always, always sketching house plans at home. My dad was in the construction industry and in the summer he sometimes would take me with him and I would get to go to a construction site. I was always very interested in the construction architectural field just being around that growing up. So when I was in high school I took some drafting classes and just fell in love with it all.

I didn’t go to be an architect because growing up my family we didn’t have a lot of money so I didn’t go to U of M or any of the big colleges for that. I chose a smaller school—Baker College—as they had an architectural technical program.

What is something you love about Kalamazoo?

There’s so much to do! I come from a really, really, small town called Langston. There’s a party store, a church, and an ice cream place. So to come to Kalamazoo and there are restaurants, bars, festivals, and so many things to do and just so much to pick from…it’s wonderful!

Behind every successful person is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?

My mom is definitely 100% my caring adult. She supports me with everything I do. I grew up in a single family household. My dad left when I was 11 or 12 so my mom raised my brother and me. She had a really strong work ethic and would work late nights and weekends because she was the only income that we had. She worked really hard and I pride myself on being like my mom because, like her, I have a very strong work ethic. Her being a single mom and raising two kids by herself; it’s just always been an inspiration to me. If she can do that, then I can do anything.

Jennifer, thank you for hanging out with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids!

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.

Skills Gap: A Moral and Economic Crisis

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Darren Timmeney, Market Manager and Community President of Chase Bank in Southwest Michigan. Darren also serves on the board of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo.

JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, recently addressed the skills gap in an article posted on LinkedIn.  In it, he shares the importance of making sure that all students graduate from high school, prepared for what comes next, and the implications when too many of our students don’t. Here in Kalamazoo, we have tremendous opportunities for our high school graduates in college and career, yet, we still have students who are not in position to take advantage of those opportunities. However, through the work of Kalamazoo Public Schools, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and its many partners and volunteers, as well as the investment that local donors, funders, and businesses are making in helping youth succeed, we are on the path to creating brighter futures for all students.

The Skills Gap Is a Moral and Economic Crisis

by Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The path to a successful future begins at a young age. But economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for millions of young people. In fact, 71% of today’s youth (ages 17–24) are ineligible for the military due to a lack of proper education (basic reading or writing skills) or health issues (often obesity or diabetes). Without the right skills or education, they find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs or are unemployed.

It’s a moral and economic crisis that too many young people leave high school without clear pathways to a successful future. We must make it a national priority to help prepare young people to be both personally and professionally successful – especially those who are traditionally overlooked.

In many inner city schools, fewer than 60% of students graduate, and many of those who do graduate are not prepared for employment. We are creating generations of citizens who will never have a chance. Unfortunately, it’s self-perpetuating, and we all pay the price. The subpar academic outcomes of America’s minority and low-income children resulted in yearly GDP losses of trillions of dollars, according to McKinsey & Company.

Getting young people on a pathway to brighter futures in high school and beyond will help them achieve long-term economic success and ultimately positively impact the economic trajectory of the entire country.

JPMorgan Chase is investing over $350 million in skills development around the world. This includes New Skills for Youth, a $75 million, five-year effort to increase dramatically the number of young people who complete career pathways that begin in high school and end with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with good-paying, high-demand jobs. We are also investing in summer youth employment programs that provide young people with meaningful, skills-based summer work.

And today we announced the expansion of The Fellowship Initiative, which helps create economic opportunity for young men of color in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas. Through the right combination of intensive academic, mentoring and leadership training, we are preparing them to take advantage of critical opportunities to get ahead. In fact, this year 117 students completed The Fellowship Initiative and 100 percent of them are graduating from high school. Combined, they have been accepted into over 200 colleges and universities across the country.

While not every business can make this kind of commitment, they can promote other efforts that create economic opportunity. This includes continued on-the-job training and education and create apprenticeships for future workers. They can also encourage partnerships with schools to ensure skills are aligned with employment needs. These investments are good for the long-term vitality of the communities we serve and create pathways to success for their employees and families.

JPMorgan Chase is creating bridges between businesses and communities to support an economy that creates opportunity for future generations. By encouraging business, government and nonprofits to work closely together, we can continue to produce position outcomes and drive entire communities forward.

You can read more about our approach to bridging the skills gap here.

Jamie Dimon’s article originally ran in LinkedIn on June 26, 2017 and you can link to it by going here.

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.