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. 

Pop Quiz: DeKarieon Booth

20161101-dsc_0272Welcome 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 DeKarieon Booth, an eighth grader at Hillside Middle School. You’ll be able to learn more about DeKarieon as he is featured in the CIS annual report that will be out soon!

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

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
Lunar equations. It’s like algebra but you have to substitute a number for a letter.

Favorite word?
Petulant. It’s another word you can use for petty. My mom, she got tired of us going around the house and calling each other petty, so she gave us a new word for it.

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Keeper of the Lost Cities: Never Seen. It’s part of a series book written by Shannon Messenger.

Thinking back through the years, who has been one of your favorite teachers?
Mrs. [Holly] Bishop at Arcadia [Elementary School]. She helped me through some rough times I was having with a couple of other kids. Also, instead of going outside some days, she let me start a book club. That was fun.

Also, Ms. [Jessica] Jeffrey. She’s my science teacher here at Hillside. She lets us do a lot of great things. She’s always pushing us to do better.

You have the Kalamazoo Promise. What are your plans upon graduating from high school?
I want to go to Western Michigan University and become a journalist and a book writer.

What’s inspired you to lean in this direction?
I just really like books and if I read a book I really like and the author hasn’t come up with another book, I’m already off and creating the next book.

CIS After School Coordinator Ms. Katherine describes you as someone who possesses ‘intellectual curiosity.’ Is she right?
That’s true.

What are you curious about?
I’m curious about school work and grades and how I can do better. I’m curious about the groups and clubs we do at CIS, whether it’s lifting weights or doing art.

Both CIS Site Coordinator Precious Miller and CIS After School Coordinator Katherine Williamson say you are a great advocate for CIS. What advice do you have for students who might be in need of support?
If they need something, they need to ask for help. And if they don’t know what to do, I’d tell them to go to someone who knows how to help them. They can turn to CIS. At Hillside, they just need to go to Ms. Precious or Ms. Katherine.

Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who is your caring adult?
My mom. She wants the best for us. She didn’t go to college and wants us to be the first in the family to go to college.

Thank you, DeKarieon!

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DeKarieon Booth in center. From left to right: CIS AmeriCorps VISTA Terra Mosqueda, CIS Site Coordinator Precious Miller, KPS Teacher Ms. Jessica Jeffrey, and CIS After School Coordinator Katherine Williamson.

 

 

Pop Quiz: Katherine Williamson

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 Katherine Williamson, who is in her second year as the Communities In Schools After School Coordinator at Hillside Middle School. We had a chance to meet up with her several weeks ago.

Katherine has strong ties to the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). All four of her children attended Hillside and all graduated from KPS. Upon retiring from teaching—she taught English for 18 years in KPS (15 years at Loy Norrix and three at Phoenix High School)—she found herself drawn to Communities In Schools (CIS).

“I felt like I could use my background as an educator in the CIS After School Program. It’s very different from teaching and I’ve had to get used to that. I’m enjoying working with my Youth Development Workers. They are very creative in coming up with ways to help the kids. I enjoy working with them on how to structure a lesson, how to work with the kids, and plan for the enrichment clubs we offer. Right now we have weight training, recycling, and we also always seem to have a creative arts program going. Thanks to a partnership with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Nick Thornton comes on a weekly basis to work with students on things like improvisation, body movement, and voice projection. The students love it.”

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

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POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

I was very interested to learn that the State EPA in Flint knew about the lead poisoning in the water and didn’t do anything about it. I’m really dismayed by all the information coming out. I keep thinking about all those children.

What are you currently reading?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. While it’s very interesting, I’m not as in love with it as everybody else I know is. But the Gaelic in it, the language, that makes it appealing to me. I also read We Beat the Streets over break and liked it very much. I’m excited that we are reading it as a school.

What’s your favorite word right now?

The word I keep thinking this week is egregious, especially in light of all that’s coming out about Flint. I also learned a new word while reading the book Outlander. Reticule.

Never heard of it.

It’s a net purse that women used to carry.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a wise old woman. That’s my aspiration. I was listening to a Toni Morrison interview on NPR recently and she mentioned being a grouchy old woman. She’s 84 and still writing. I don’t want to be grouchy but I’d like to grow up and be as wise as Toni Morrison.

She wrote The Bluest Eye. Did you read that?

Yes, I’ve read most of her books. She’s one of my favorite authors. I read Home, one of her newer books, over break and that was really good.

Her writing is beautiful and complicated. She’s not an easy read.

Right. She’s very much of a scholar. She taught at Princeton for many years.

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

My partner, Deb Rhinard. She’s a social worker so I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what I do from her. She’s amazingly compassionate. She helps me remember to be compassionate. I can do that for her, too. There’s a lot of bad stuff in the world and she helps me refocus on the things that we can do to help.

Thank you, Katherine!

In the weeks to come you can look forward to learning more about other members of the wonderful CIS Site Team at Hillside. If you missed the recent post about Principal McKissack, you can read it by clicking here.