Pop Quiz: Terra Mosqueda

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 another member of the Communities In Schools site team at Hillside Middle School, Terra Mosqueda. Embarking on her second year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CIS, her work spans between Loy Norrix High School (three days a week) and Hillside (two days a week).

Terra grew up in Rockford, Michigan and it was college that brought her to Kalamazoo. She started at Western Michigan University studying Child and Family Development and then decided to change her focus. After taking some classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College she decided to take a year off and try something else other than school.

“Being a VISTA has made me lean more towards social work,” Terra says. “School has always been my biggest obstacle. I didn’t try very hard in high school. And I want to work to make sure kids don’t go down my same path. Honestly, I never thought I’d be in a school again! But I really enjoy the relationships I’m making, especially with the students. Being a VISTA gives me opportunities to try new things. I get to talk to people I’ve never thought I’d have a chance to talk with by being in the schools.”

Like her other colleagues who are VISTAs with Communities In Schools, Terra helps nourish a college-going culture. To this end, she has planned college trips for Loy Norrix students and at Hillside she’s created a “college window” that she changes every few weeks.IMG_2940

She orders food from CIS partner Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes to keep the food pantry stocked. She makes sure CIS Kids’ Closet is organized and filled with essentials, like clothing, hygiene, and school supplies.IMG_2938

Terra works with her CIS site teams to assure a smooth delivery of dental services offered to students through the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services and their “Smiles to Go” van. She also supports the CIS After School program. “I’ve gotten really close to the kids. They’ve really grown on me.”


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

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

It’s not so much something I’ve learned as something that I’ve opened up to. and that is that no two kids have the same learning style. If two kids are sitting next to each other and I show one how to do a math problem, that same approach may not work for the other student. I have to bend my mind and think of other ways to help that child. At the same time, this helps me in that I expand and come up with new ways of thinking.

 

What are you currently reading?

With a Pistol in his Hand by Americo Paredes. It is about Gregorio Cortez, a Mexican outlaw still known to this day. When Gregorio eventually dies, he does so in my great-grandfathers house; it’s mentioned in one of the chapters. It’s a really interesting read, and I get to learn a little more about what my great grandfather experienced in his life with his compadre, Gregorio Cortez.

 

What’s your favorite word right now?

Go. I always say “Go” to the kids as a way to encourage them to be in the right classroom, do their homework, and such. “Go” is both encouraging and demanding. It’s the best of both worlds!

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m really leaning towards social work. It’s so important to keep kids in good environments. I want to help them graduate with the Kalamazoo Promise and do what they want to accomplish in life.

 

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

My mom and dad, equally. My mom was the caring one and my dad helped me by pushing me. They had the good cop-bad cop thing going on and it worked well on me.

 

Thank you, Terra!

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA? The next group of AmeriCorps VISTA members will come on board in August. To find out more, go here.

In the weeks to come, we’ll introduce you to Fred Myles and Precious Miller, two more CIS team members from Hillside. In the meantime, if you missed the  post about Principal McKissack, you can read it by clicking here. You can read about Katherine Williamson, Hillside’s CIS After School Coordinator, by going here. To learn about Nicholas Keen, Youth Development Worker at Hillside, go here.

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.