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.
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.
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:
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 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.
Have you read the new anthology, Immigration and Justice For Our Neighbors? If not, you may want to add it to your summer reading list. Published by Celery City Books, the anthology includes the work of a number of Kalamazoo Public School students from Arcadia Elementary School. Poems by Reem Ahmed, Nour Abdullah, Hala Alhasan, Nada Alhasnawi, Faris Bukhader, Nabaa Eyddan, Lisbet Lopez, Taema Qwam-Alden, Roziya Rustamova, Abdullah Tayara, and Ritika Verma are woven throughout the anthology. These fourth and fifth graders are published alongside prominent poets and writers from Michigan and beyond.
If you want to read a book on immigration policy, then this isn’t the book for you. However, if you are a neighbor, have a neighbor, or are interested in exploring the theme of immigration and what kids have to say about it, this 116 page anthology is for you.
Here are nine things you may not know about this anthology project:
What readers are saying.
CIS friend and community advocate Deborah Droppers says, “I applaud the anthology of essays and poems found in Immigration and Justice For Our Neighbors. The anthology uses the written word to encourage thoughtful discourse on the challenges that each of our communities face while celebrating the amazing things that happen organically when people believe in the power of conversation between neighbors that are close and beyond our picket fences.”
Retired KPS teacher Carol Hodges says this: “Opening this anthology in the middle, I find a child’s poetic love letter to the country of Iraq juxtaposed against the complex musings of an American man teaching English to Arabs in the Mideast. Then there is the story of a Nigerian woman named Rejoice who fears being deported. How different is her modern-day experience from the 1919 steerage voyage of the young British woman leaving shame and servitude behind?This volume is thin but it is far from an easy read. You’ll need time to ponder.”
The people behind the pages.
Were it not for the support of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Public Schools, the children’s voices might not have been heard. A shout out to Arcadia Elementary School teachers Debora Gant, Holly Bishop, Erin Young, and Donna Judd for the opportunity to work with such wonderful students. Also, Donia Ali and Grace Gheen are two shining stars at Arcadia who are part of the fabulous Kalamazoo Public Schools Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. They were instrumental to the success of this project in so many ways.
It’s in the bag.
The anthology is now part of Kalamazoo Public Library’s impressive list of books available as a Book Club in a Bag. Karen Trout, Reading Together coordinator for the Kalamazoo Public Library says, “KPL’s 2016 social justice resolution includes the statement: KPL values compassion and champions everyone’s right to be welcome in a safe environment in the library and in the wider community. Adding this title to our Book Club in a Bag collection–and encouraging local dialogue about the issue of immigration–is a perfect way to put this institutional commitment into action.” Book Club in a Bag is open to all Kalamazoo Public Library district resident cardholders.
At a reading at the stunning sculpture gardens of Roan and Black in Saugatuck, award-winning Michigan poet Jack Ridl talked about the project and helped the voices of the children reach an even wider audience. Ridl contributed three of his own poems to the anthology.
Students got a lot out of this anthology project.
The Arcadia fourth and fifth graders wrote poems, some for the first time. Their work was published and they have had opportunities to read their work to others, at home, school, on the Kalamazoo College campus, and at Bookbug. They’ve read alongside well-known Michigan poets and writers like Buddy Hannah, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Hedy Habra, Lynn Pattison, Kit Almy, Phillip Sterling, Marion Boyer, and Alison Swan. They’ve even been approached by audience members asking the students to autograph their copy of the anthology and have graciously done so. (Kudos to Arcadia Principal Greg Socha for all his support of this project, including his wise suggestion of giving students the opportunity to practice their signatures in advance of readings!)
Student are giving back to the community.
One can’t help but think that the students have given more than they have received. Like the other contributors, the children donated their work and all proceeds benefit Justice For Our Neighbors in Kalamazoo, a legal clinic for immigrants.
Also, their words make grown ups think! As one reader said, “I know immigration has been a hot topic but it didn’t really hit home until I read the children’s ‘Dear Country’ poems.” Similar sentiments have been shared by other readers. A reader who attended the June Bookbug event said, “I’m humbled by the bravery of these children. I can’t imagine the courage it takes to read before a group of people, let alone leave one’s country and then read so beautifully in a brand new language. How many of us could do that? I don’t know if I could!”
Jennifer Clark, co-editor of the anthology, works on special projects and initiatives for CIS and worked with the students on this anthology project as a CIS volunteer, offering workshops at Arcadia Elementary School. She can’t sing the praises enough of the CIS staff at Arcadia. Thanks to Caitlin Bales and Rachel DeNooyer for all their support! CIS volunteer Cindy Hadley also worked behind the scenes, escorting students to and from the poetry workshops. Go, Cindy!
Today we highlight Prevention Works, honored with a 2017 Champ Award. The non-profit’s Champ award was sponsored byBorgess. CIS Board member Carolyn H. Williams presented the award.
A healthy start and a healthy future is one of the five basics that Communities In Schools believes every child needs and deserves in order to be the best student and the best person they can be. For more than a decade, CIS has turned to Prevention Works to help us create stronger, healthier students and families throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools.
We count on Prevention Works to deliver evidence-based prevention programs that are both engaging and educational. They address substance abuse prevention, violence prevention, bullying, family life skills, parenting, sexual health and adolescent health, and they encourage young people and their families to make wise decisions and live healthy lives.
Spring Valley Center for Exploration students participating in Prevention Works program as part of CIS After School.
Hillside Middle School’s CIS Site Coordinator Precious Miller works closely with Prevention Works Program Director Lola Amos to connect just the right programs to the right students and classrooms. She says, “Prevention Works staff helps our students get in touch with what they’re dealing with at home and school—to put a language to what they’re experiencing. Students learn that it’s okay to share that information with those they trust, that we are here for them.”
When Prevention Works Katie McDonald and Lenye Tynes stepped into Hillside classrooms, lives changed. As one student said, “I’m not bullied anymore. They helped the bully and they helped me.” He says his grades have improved since he’s able to focus on learning and no longer worries about what will happen once he steps outside the school. “Prevention Works is an incredible resource for our students,” says Precious.
CIS Site Coordinator January Haulenbeek agrees. When she was looking to meet the needs of a group of Northglade Montessori Magnet School students—all boys, ranging from first through third grade—she turned to Prevention Works. “Sure enough,” January says, “they provided the perfect facilitator. As a recent college graduate and young professional, Matt quickly built rapport with the students. The boys looked forward to their weekly meetings with Matt. He inspired them to dream big. He helped them take responsibility for their futures by focusing them on decisions and choices they could control.”
Victoria, a seventh grader at Hillside has been a huge fan of Prevention Works since her elementary days. “Prevention Works teaches different things,” she explains, “like how to handle peer pressure and how to be responsible. They’ve taught us how to turn down alcohol and other substances. They’ve taught us how to communicate better.”
Ever since her site coordinator connected her to the Strengthening Families Program, Victoria notices the change in her own family. “We compromise more,” she says. “My mother and I went through all seven weeks and my sister and dad came twice with us. We all talk more as a family. We try and see things from each other’s point of view.”
Prevention Works, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.
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 twins, Diamond and Dominique Mahone.
Both students are fifth graders at King Westwood Elementary School and featured in our upcoming CIS Connections. In fact, they are the inspiration behind the newsletter’s theme: Double! We’re thankful to their school’s CIS Site Coordinator Laura Keiser for introducing us to these two young people who, because of their hard work, are succeeding in school. With support from their home and school family, and in concert with the community working through CIS, the twins attendance, behavior, and academics are on track as they prepare for middle school next year. “Diamond and Dominique are both unique and kind individuals,” notes Laura. “It’s wonderful to see how nice they are to each other. They compliment each other. Often, you see them walking around, arms casually resting around the other one’s shoulders.”
Earlier in the school year, we quizzed them separately and have combined their responses below. Alright, Diamond and Dominique: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
Diamond: How to multiply decimals. My math teacher, Ms. Sankarsingh, taught me.
Dominique: I’ve learned a lot of things, like more about how to write in cursive. I’m really bad at it but I’m getting better. We did it in third and fourth, and now we’re working on it again.
Diamond: Basketball. I play it at the Boys & Girls Club. I’ve been playing since I was two years old.
What are you currently reading?
Diamond: A book about a fire that happens in Detroit. I think it’s part of the Titanic series.
Diamond: Math and reading. Ms. Ghastin is my reading teacher.
Dominique: Math, gym, and library. Ms. Cruz-Davis is my math teacher. Ms. Melvin teaches gym and Ms. Langsam is the librarian and we check out two books per week.
What’s the best part about being a twin?
Diamond: We get to play together.
Dominique: Having someone to play with all the time.
What’s the hardest part?
Diamond: When we have to share things.
Dominique: Fighting. We fight about lots of petty things, like the remote to the TV.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Diamond: A WNBA player.
Dominique: A doctor and a professional football player and maybe a soccer player and maybe a vet. I love animals. As a doctor, I might work with kids.
Upon graduating from high school, what colleges are you considering?
Diamond: Possibly Western.
Dominique: Kalamazoo College and then I might move to Florida for the hot weather.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who is your caring adult?
Diamond: My mom. When I get bad grades, I can’t go anywhere until I do my homework.Ms. Pierce, too. We check in with each other every day at school. She’s helped me with my behavior in the classroom.
Dominique: Ms. Laura and my parents. My parents help me with a lot of things. Like homework, spelling, and a whole lot of other things. Ms. Laura finds tutors for me to help me get A’s. She’s also generous and nice and kind. And she helps other people a lot in the school. If it’s a parent that’s visiting, she helps them. She might give them directions or something. If it’s a kid that needs something, she helps them get it. So like, I’m going to Sherman Lake next week and I need a sleeping bag and she’s getting one for me. [Turns to Ms. Laura as she walks in the door.] You’re getting me a sleeping bag, right? [Laura smiles and says, “I’ve got it Dominique. Don’t you worry.]
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 Tamiko Garrett. She’s been with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) for three years and is the CIS Site Coordinator at Linden Grove Middle School.
A proud KPS parent, Tamiko attended Kalamazoo Public Schools as well, graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School, after having been educated at Spring Valley, Northeastern, and Hillside Middle School. She says that supporting students within the same school district she went to is “rewarding and strange at the same time…I’ll work with a kid and then quickly discover that I went to school with their parent. That connection, I think, actually helps me do my job better.”
Alright, Tamiko: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
A few things, really. Just being in America and having never before heard of these women and their incredible story, this black history, well it made me want to know more. Also, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but students in after school—not just here at Linden Grove but all the CIS after school sites throughout KPS middle schools— are doing an amazing program. It involves working with NASA. It’s quite exciting for our students to be exposed to STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] beyond the school day. Students will even be linking up with other schools throughout the country that are using this curriculum. When [CIS After School Coordinator] Jenee learned that the movie was coming out, she thought it would be a perfect opportunity to tie in the NASA project with Black History Month. She arranged for the students to see the movie and I volunteered to help chaperone.
Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?
Auga Davis. She was my first grade teacher. My older sister had her as well so I thought it was cool to have the same teacher. I still remember thinking, “Wow, this is my sister’s teacher and she’s teaching me now!” Ms. Davis recently retired from Indian Prairie after teaching 40 years in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. She was such a nice and sweet teacher. To think of somebody teaching and giving to students for 40 years. Just, wow.
What is your favorite word right now?
Tell us more about that.
Blended learning is really all about how we can customize a student’s individualized learning style with a teacher’s teaching style in order to achieve the best educational outcome for the student.
What is something you love about Kalamazoo?
The Kalamazoo Promise. I have a daughter who attends Kalamazoo Central High School. She is in the 11th grade. The Promise is such a wonderful opportunity and she will soon be able to get 100% of this incredible gift!
Can you tell us something about yourself that people may be surprised to know?
I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Eastern Michigan University. I love learning and teaching others.
Behind every successful person is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
Definitely my mom. She raised three kids. She is now very hands on with raising my niece and she is helpful to me in raising my daughter. My siblings and my niece all graduated from Kalamazoo Public Schools, and my daughter will soon be joining us as proud graduates.
Tamiko, thank you for hanging out with us at Ask Me About About My 12,000 Kids!
We continue to talk with Tamiko in our soon to be released newsletter, CIS Connections. Tamiko and her CIS site team member, CIS After School Coordinator Jenee McDaniel, share insights into what it takes to work together to help students stay in school and be successful.
-Carly Denny, CIS Site Coordinator at Prairie Ridge Elementary School
I love my life.
-Tracie Hall, CIS Finance Coordinator
Walking in the woods on a fresh, fall day.
-Sally Stevens, CIS Volunteer
I love talking with former students about their progress in life.
-Von Washington Jr., Executive Director, Community Relations
I love my first cup of coffee on Saturday morning.
-Jenna Cooperrider, CIS Success Coach at Kalamazoo Central High School
I love seeing parents beam with pride while taking smartphone videos of their young musician at Kids In Tune.
-Liz Youker, Vice President, Education and Community Partnerships, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
Besides coffee, I love when children ask other children, “Are you alright?” It shows the building of empathy and caring.
-Aisha Coulson-Walters, CIS Site Coordinator at Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School
Lake Michigan and the bike trails that can get you there from Kalamazoo.
-John Curran, Executive Director, First Day Shoe Fund
-Deondra Ramsey, CIS After School Coordinator for Washington Writers Academy
Singing. I was a voice performance major in college.
-Nicky Aiello, CIS Volunteer and Development Coordinator
Thanks for sharing! We love hearing what you love. We especially love all the support you and our Ask Us About Our 12,000 Kids readers show Kalamazoo Public School students by sharing your time, talents, and financial gifts with Communities In Schools. Thank you for working with us to help students stay in school and achieve in life.