Caring Adult Series: Mr. Blink

Johnny featured with some caring adults. Back,from left: CIS After School Coordinator Stacy Salters, KPS Principal Julie McDonald, KPS Teacher Chad Chambless.
Johnny featured with some caring adults. Back,from left: CIS After School Coordinator Stacy Salters, KPS Principal Julie McDonald, KPS Teacher Chad Chambless.

If you follow our blog, you know that CIS has been asking caring adults to think back to when they were young and in school and recall that caring adult they felt especially connected to. Maybe it was in elementary school, or perhaps it was middle or high school. Who is that special person, that, even after all these years, they still carry within their hearts?

Members of the CIS team at Edison Environmental Science Academy were up to the challenge and in the weeks to come, we’ll find out who their caring adults are as we will publish each of their letters.

Today, we are excited to share a letter written by one member of the passionate, talented, and dedicated team who infuse Edison Environmental Science Academy with hope, love, and learning.

 

Dear Mr. Blink,

Many people do not believe I was ever a shy person.  Thirty six years ago, you had that shy 7th grader in your social studies classroom and on your volleyball team.  My brother was a star football player at the high school, breaking all sorts of records.  I was known as “Dean’s little sister” or “little Sharick.”  I was 12, trying to figure out who I was, what I stood for, and who my friends were.

Honestly, I don’t remember you doing anything particularly special just for me, but you made me feel special, gave me my own voice and always called me by my first name.  You allowed me to be a typical 7th grade girl – moody and well, a 7th grade girl.   You would talk about choosing friends wisely and being true to yourself.  As an adult and an educator, I now see that you took every advantage of “teachable moments.” By the time I started 8th grade, I was a new person, no longer as shy, knowing who I was (at least as much as a teenager can), and chose my friends wisely.  Most of my best friends are friends of 30+ years!

Thank you for taking this shy, 12 year old under your wing and allowing me to fly.  You were an integral part of my decision to become a teacher.  I hope I have made a difference in my students’ lives just as you have mine.

Thank you so much,

Julie (Sharick) McDonald, M.A.

Principal
Edison Environmental Science Academy
Kalamazoo Public Schools
 
 

Who is your Mr. Blink? If you are up to the challenge of reflecting on and writing a letter to your caring adult, email it to me at jclark@ciskalamazoo.org and we just might publish it!

And, if you haven’t yet had a chance to read the Story of Success within our freshly published annual report, take a few minutes to learn how KPS Principal Julie McDonald, her fabulous teaching staff, CIS staff, and other caring adults are helping Johnny succeed. Hint: To address the needs of the whole child, it often takes more than one person, one organization or resource. Johnny identifies a number of caring adults that have empowered him and gives a special shout out to: The Kalamazoo Promise®, Friday Food Packs (made possible thanks to Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes), First Day Shoe Fund, the Edison School Based Health Center (staffed by Family Health Center), Open Roads, and WMU College of Aviation.  These last two resources are offered as part of CIS After School Programming funded through the Michigan Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

 

Getting To The Root Of The Matter

Donna by Dental ChairIt’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. Go brush your teeth and come back and read this post with a fresh mouth. Ah….you smell good. (Speaking of smelling good, Emily Kobza tells me that yesterday we gave out our last men’s deodorant. Yikes! So, faithful readers, if you are able, drop off some deodorant to our office and help us help our kids with their personal hygiene.)

We thank those 70 plus of you who recently turned out to celebrate the beautifully renovated space at the Edison School Based Health Center. We especially thank the children who helped us prepare and celebrate. A special shout out to State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and State Representative Sean McCann for attending and for their long-term support of the health center.  Thanks also to Jeff Brown, State Director for Communities In Schools of Michigan, for for making the trek from Lansing. We  appreciated the presence of Mayor Bobby Hopewell, City Commissioners Don Cooney and Barb Miller, County Commissioner Carolyn Alford and all the great Edison staff. And thank you TowerPinkster for creating a beautiful, usable space to care for our children.

The post below, written by Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives appeared just last week in “Beyond the Classroom,” the official blog of our National CIS office.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental related problems. Lack of access to oral health care unfairly impacts children from racial and ethnic minorities as well as children from low income families. These children suffer untreated tooth decay at more than double the rate of children from more affluent families.

Yet, tooth decay is almost completely preventable. What kind of country are we if we do not address this issue? How can we expect a child to excel academically if their tooth aches or they are suffering from an abscess?

Recognizing that dental problems represent the single biggest untreated health issue facing our children, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo has been strategically working with community partners to increase access to dental services for Kalamazoo Public Schools students, especially those who are Medicaid eligible or without insurance.

Creating access and developing a different way to deliver dental services doesn’t happen overnight. We have worked hard over the past seven years to build relationships with Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services and the Family Health Center to bring their expertise to where our children are…in the schools.

We began with the county providing preventive care to students. Hygienists arrived at the school and Site Coordinators would help them set up in a room where they could do cleanings, x-rays, and fluoride treatments.

As wonderful as this was, it wasn’t enough. Two thirds of children receiving preventive care needed follow up to treat cavities.

Three years ago, Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services acquired a dental van. Known as the “Smiles to Go” van, it enables our partner to travel from school to school, providing not only preventive services but also has a dentist on board two days a week to handle fillings and other restorative care.

ESBHC Info SheetJust last year, Family Health Center, in collaboration with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, received a federal grant to put a dental facility in an elementary school based health center located at Edison Environmental Science Academy. Staffed by a hygienist four days a week and a dentist one day a week, Edison has provided dental care to 287 kids in the first quarter of this school year alone.

CIS provides the infrastructure within the school to allow these dental services to reach the kids who need them. Our Site Coordinators distribute and collect the necessary permission forms, check the information, follow up with parents, create the schedules and get the kids to the dental experts.

For many of the children we serve, transportation is a barrier and keeping appointments outside of the school setting can pose a hardship for families. Having access to dental care within the school setting is huge for our kids. We are proud to be a part of a community that refuses to allow dental decay, or what the U.S. Surgeon General has referred to as a ‘silent epidemic,’ to wipe out the hopes and dreams of our kids.

Check out our picture album on our facebook page. (Photos taken by Freshwater Photography.) Also, tune in tomorrow (Wednesday) by 8a.m. to WKZO, 590 AM and catch Donna live, along with Jenee McDaniel, our CIS Site Coordinator at Loy Norrix talking with Lori on The Lori Moore Show.

Dishing Out Thanks

Here in the downtown CIS office we updated each other on our Thanksgiving weekends. Talk turned to how thankful we are for each of you. We get to hear about or see children succeeding in school every day because of you. Your efforts—as a school and community partner, volunteer, donor, or member of a CIS site team—are feeding our future. So, while the pumpkin pie is long gone and our serotonin levels are diminishing, our reasons to be thankful remain abundant. Here are just a few things of THANKS we shared with each other:

Teeth cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatment, exams, and fillings. Our partners, Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Mobile Dental Unit and Family Health Center dental services at Edison School Based Health Center and Paterson Street brighten the smiles of our children on a daily basis.

Hats and coats. Mittens and boots. Underwear, too! And all the people and organizations who help to stock our Kids’ Closet. When these basic needs are met, children can better focus on learning.

Appetites and apples. Hundreds of students receive food from Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes through our Friday Foodpack program and school pantries. Thanks to our many faith based and community partners who help distribute the foodpacks.

Numbers and letters. And all the fabulous tutors who help children make sense of them.

Kids, with their energy and enthusiasm for learning. All 12,000+ of them.

Site Coordinators. These eighteen dedicated men and women are the “secret sauce” to helping us fulfill our mission, connecting a myriad of community resources to the children who need them.