Pop Quiz: Tamiko Garrett

Tamiko Garrett, upon successfully completing Communities In Schools Site Coordinator Learning Pathway Virtual Boot Camp

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.

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned? 

I recently learned Trevon Martin’s mother is going to be in town, speaking at Chenery as part of an event that is sponsored by Lee Honor’s College. It’s March 29th and I plan to attend.

What are you currently reading? 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.  I recently saw the movie. Normally, I read the book first but I decided to switch things around.

That is a great movie. Everyone needs to see it.

I agree.

What made you decide to change things up?

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?

Blended learning.

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.

 

 

Pop Quiz: Dominique Jackson

dominique-jackson-internWelcome 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 Dominique Jackson.

One of ten terrific interns working with CIS, Dominique graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 2012. A Promise Scholar, Dominique went on to Michigan State University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. “I was the first generation in my family to graduate from a four year university,” she says. She is currently working on her Masters in Social Work at Western Michigan University.

As a social work intern, Dominique works closely with her CIS site team at Linden Grove Middle School. “It’s great learning from [CIS Site Coordinator] Ms. [Tamiko] Garrett and [CIS After School Coordinator] Ms. [Jenee] McDaniel. And the KPS staff is awesome! They’ve all welcomed me and so it’s been a smooth transition coming in as an intern.”

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

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

In some European countries, such as Norway, college is completely free. I didn’t know that.

Favorite word?

I have so many, it’s hard to say. Right now, I’d say strength. That’s what I need right now to get through this year, with working at Gilden Woods Early Childcare & Preschool, going to school, and doing my internship.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Always by Nina Lane. I really liked it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m still trying to decide, but I’m leaning towards doing social work in schools. Or, possibly, working with juveniles. This would tie in with my degree and I do like the thought of getting juveniles on the right track.

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

My mom, for sure. She’s the one that’s always been there, motivating me and pushing me to do well.

Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?

Mrs. [Ruth] Schafer. She was my fifth grade teacher at Arcadia. She was very engaging, helpful, and pushed us to do better. She was hard on us while still showing her love and support. She was amazing and I loved her.

Also, Mrs. [Elaine] Sayre, my AP [Advanced Placement] Language teacher. I had her my senior year at Kalamazoo Central. Mrs. Sayre helped me think and really prepared me for college and the higher level of work that was expected of me. I have to also definitely say Principal Von Washington. When I was at Kalamazoo Central, he was just an awesome principal. He was always checking up on students to make sure they were doing okay. Oh, and Mr. [Ramon] Baca. He was my principal when I was at Arcadia and he was great too. I loved Mr. Baca.

As you know, Von Washington Jr. is now the Executive Director of Community Relations for The Kalamazoo Promise. What’s it like to be a Promise Scholar who is now giving back within the very school district she graduated from?

It’s definitely awesome to come full circle. I come from a single parent household and I didn’t know college would be possible for me, so getting the opportunity to go to college by the generosity of strangers is an amazing gift.

Right now, my younger brother is at Michigan State. He was eligible to receive 100% of The Promise as well. And I have a much younger brother at Arcadia who will be a Promise Scholar one day.

What do you do as a CIS intern at Linden Grove Middle School?

As a CIS intern, I check in with kids about their grades. I make sure they have everything they need, whether it’s school supplies or personal care items, whatever they are going to need to enhance their school performance. I also make sure they are getting their homework done while still having fun with them as well.

I really love working with Ms. [Tamiko] Garrett and Ms. [Jenee] McDaniel. They’re awesome, engaging, supportive, and not afraid to challenge me, which I love because I love learning!

What is something you are learning when it comes to your internship?

Every kid is different. You have to tailor your approach to their needs as much as you can, make sure they are being recognized individually. One strategy you use for one kid many not work for another, but that’s okay. You find the one that works.

Thank you, Dominique!

 

Pop Quiz: O’Neal Ollie  

O'Neal Ollie
O’Neal Ollie, CIS Success Coach at Loy Norrix High School

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 O’Neal Ollie who is the CIS Success Coach at Loy Norrix High School. CIS Success Coaches allow Communities In Schools to have a larger footprint in larger schools. CIS Success Coaches are an extension—a more expansive one—of the case management model. It allows CIS to delve more deeply into a school, to meet student needs. For students who need a moderate degree of support, having that one-on-one coaching support from O’Neal Ollie can be the tipping point that gets them over the hump and on the road to graduation.

A graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School, O’Neal then headed to school in Riverside, California and later returned to Kalamazoo, graduating in Sports Management from Western Michigan University. Today, O’Neal and his wife Terri are proud KPS parents of son Bass, a senior at Kalamazoo Central High School who is also enrolled in college, and daughter, Symphony, who graduated from Kalamazoo Central, was honored by the YWCA in 2014 as a Young Women of Achievement, and is now in her third year at Michigan State University. O’Neal notes that “it’s my wife Terri who keeps all of us on track.”

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

POP QUIZ

O'Neal with Dareon, CIS Alumni
O’Neal with Dareon, CIS Alumni

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

Oh, my goodness. I learn so much stuff. For a person that thinks he knows everything, well, that is a tough one. Okay, I learned about dual enrollment. That is the process of enrolling a student in college while they are still completing high school with eligibility to play high school sports. My son is a senior at Kalamazoo Central and plays three sports.

Favorite word?

At this time of the year, it is football because my son is in his senior year.

What are you currently reading?

Sports Illustrated, because of the Olympics, which were so good with swimming, gymnastics, and track.

You graduated from Kalamazoo Central. Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?

Vern Davis and Clarence Gardener. Also, Coach Don Jackson. He taught PE, probably one of my biggest mentors in school. Mr. Davis was a math teacher and Mr. Gardner was general business & accounting. Both coached as well.

My counselor was Nelson Stevenson and he was my main man. He enrolled me in Upward Bound. That was my introduction to college. We stayed on Western’s campus-in Bigelow Hall-for eight weeks. I learned the social aspects of college and thought, this is going to be great! I have life-long friends that I made from attending Outward Bound.

Mr. Davis made you feel so good about yourself. He made it easy to learn. It probably helped that he was a former NFL player. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles and was All-American. I had his class fourth hour. “Don’t ever make me come look for you,” he’d say.

Coach Gardiner’s business and accounting was the most useful class I’ve ever taken. I still write my checks the way he taught me in school. When I went to college, I majored in accounting until I changed to sports management.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’ve always been interested in school and sports administration. But, regardless of all I’m doing work-wise, I can’t forget I’m a dad. I learn a lot from my son and daughter.

Montrell Baker, CIS Site Coordinator at Loy Norrix, with O'Neal
Montrell Baker, CIS Site Coordinator at Loy Norrix, with O’Neal

Like what?

Things I never expected to learn, like, what it means to go prom dress shopping. That is a whole process and it’s a family event.

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

My mom, my second mom, and my third mom. I have eight older siblings and my oldest sister, Ida Buchanan, was a secretary in my building when I was in high school. I would much rather my mother than my sister Ida get a hold of me. She did not play. Still doesn’t. She still works, going between Hillside and Linden Grove Middle School.

My mom, I always appreciated how hard she worked and the way she had a way of breaking things down to make us understand things. One of my favorite quotes she said was when I came home crying one day. “You’re crying because folks are talking about you?” she said. “You start crying when folks stop talking about you.”

Thank you, Coach Ollie!

We continue to talk about O’Neal Ollie in our soon to be released newsletter, CIS Connections. O’Neal and his CIS site team member, CIS Site Coordinator Montrell Baker, share their insights about helping students get on track to graduation. And if you missed Montrell’s interview with Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, you can read it here.

Peer To Peer Tutors

NHS Peer to Peer MentorsToday we give a shout out to Linden Grove’s National Honor Society Peer to Peer Tutors, a group recently honored at the sixth annual Champ Celebration. CIS Board Member, Jeff Patton, who is also CEO of Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services presented the Champ Awards.

One of the five CIS basics—an opportunity to give back to peers and community—is alive and well at Linden Grove Middle School. Five eighth graders who are part of Linden Grove’s National Honor Society Peer to Peer Tutors— Alyssia Fresh, Amirah Bin-Mahfouz, Kaitlyn Dawson, Jacintha Glover, and Isabel Measzros are students who are helping other students succeed. Each of these young women has committed to volunteering two days a week in the after school program. On any given day, they work with two to fifteen of their peers. At the start, they were asked by CIS staff to focus entirely on math. They did. And their peers’ math grades shot up. When CIS approached them on possibly expanding their efforts and assisting in other academic areas these young women readily agreed. They have proven to be flexible in helping to meet a variety of academic needs for a variety of students. They have a gift for building relationships, drawing students in, and keeping them on task. They walk around the classroom and make themselves available to any student in need.

NHS Peer to Peer Mentors“I’m just amazed by these students,” says CIS VISTA, Donielle Hetrick. As a VISTA or Volunteer In Service to America, Donielle checks in regularly to see how things are going. “Tutoring can be frustrating at times and yet these young women are so mature and professional,” says Donielle. “If a problem arises, they don’t complain. They focus on the positive and offer up solutions, saying things like, ‘I think it would be better if we tried it this way.’ While they are helping their peers achieve, I’ve seen these tutors grow as well. They are all naturally outgoing but it’s wonderful to see how much more sure of themselves, how confident they have become.”

Students are improving academically because these young women have stepped up and given back. “Thank you,” says one of their peers, “for helping us with our homework and assignments. You have been a real big help. I hope next year kind kids like you will help us out too.”

Linden Grove National Honor Society Peer To Peer Tutors, we thank you for helping students stay in school and achieve in life.

Got CIS?

As a parent of a Kalamazoo Public School student, James Spencer has love, luck, and courage on his side. He also has Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS).

“I have a high opinion of CIS,” says Mr. Spencer. “It’s outstanding and I’m glad to see that this support is continuing yet another year for my son. Due to the positive attention Kal-El has gotten—particularly within the afterschool program—he’s seeing that what I’m saying has validity.” Since Kal-El’s involvement with CIS at Linden Grove Middle School, Mr. Spencer has noticed that homework time has vastly improved. “Before, it was a struggle to even get him to bring it home. Now it’s is much easier. It’s no longer uncool to do homework.”

“What you say as a parent doesn’t always resonate,” points out Mr. Spencer. “Kids need that little extra push. I appreciate that what my son is hearing at home—the importance of grades and good study habits—is being reinforced at school by teachers and CIS. Sometimes it just helps that kids are hearing the same things repeated and that it’s not coming from your face!”

Mr. Spencer’s son, Kal-El, is featured in our annual report that recently came out. Kal-El talks about how he is motivated to do his best by his parents, CIS Site Coordinator Donyll Lewis and Youth Development Coach and Western Michigan University student Ples Wyatt, III.