Three New Sparks with CIS

From left to right: Ellen Sudeikis, Tate Vogt, and Jamie Morgan.

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 have compiled some answers from the newest members of our CIS family: our interns!

All three fabulous Western Michigan University students are working towards their bachelor’s degree in the School of Social Work. Here they are, in no particular order (drum roll, please): Tate Vogt (from Jackson, Michigan) is with the CIS team at Northglade Montessori Magnet School, Ellen Sudeikis (from Chicago, Illinois) is with the CIS team at Spring Valley Center for Exploration, and Jamie Morgan (from Albion, Michigan) has joined the CIS team at King-Westwood Elementary School.

Alright, interns: pencils out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

  • All about ethics
  • How to change the power steering lines
  • The new WMU football coach played for the Broncos during his undergrad at Western

What are you currently reading?

  • Lord of the Flies/ The Giver
  • Harry Potter
  • Me Before You

 What do you love about Kalamazoo?

  • The breweries and taphouses culture-bringing people together
  • The variety of restaurants
  • How nice everyone is, especially in comparison to Chicago!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

  • A substance abuse counselor
  • A good father
  • A social worker and a mom

What is your favorite word right now?

  • Soda pop
  • Absolutely, as in “Absolutely, I’d love to do that.” When someone says that, it makes you feel like they really want you to be there.
  • Passionate

Will you share with us something that has been on your mind lately?

  • The election and beyond
  • Time management
  • How am I going to manage taking four classes, working at Red Lobster five times a week, and interning for 30 hours?

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

  • My mother and father. My mother helps me with all my needs and my father pushes me.
  • My father, He supports me in many ways. He is my rock.
  • My brother is my caring adult.

Thank you, interns. Welcome aboard!

Introduction To Mindfulness: How It Helps Students

Today’s guest blogger is Jessica Smith, Western Michigan University MSW Intern at Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. 

Jessica-300x300My name is Jessica Smith, I am an MSW (Masters of Social Work) intern at Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary through Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. I graduated from Ferris State University in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Technical and Professional Communication. I am pursuing my School of Social Work certificate and I will be graduating with my MSW in April 2016.

Since I began my internship with CIS, I was invited by Deb Faling of CIS to help run a mindfulness group at Woods Lake Elementary School, which hosts the after school program, Kids In Tune.

Prior to helping run the mindfulness groups, I was not aware of just how useful mindfulness can be in helping with concentration, focus, managing emotions and creating a more peaceful environment. I’ve practiced it myself and have noticed it has a positive effect on my thoughts and feelings.

What exactly is mindfulness and how does it help students?

Mindfulness is defined as, “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” (Source: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition)

Many students in the mindfulness group have expressed positive feelings about the activity. Students have said they feel more “calm” and “relaxed” as a result of practicing mindful behaviors and mindfulness-oriented activities.

I’ve observed that students in the mindfulness group are indeed calmer, more aware of their feelings, their environment and demonstrate compassion towards themselves and others. They have demonstrated more patience and appear to be more “present” in the exact moment they are in.

I will be writing a series on mindful activities the students of the mindfulness group at Kids In Tune have been doing all year long:

Upcoming topics of mindful activities:

• Mindful breathing
• Mindful seeing
• Mindful hearing
• Mindful walking
• Mindful eating

My first post in the series will be about mindful breathing, which will be published in the upcoming weeks. Check out “Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids” for the latest on CIS news and events.

Caring Adult: Olivia Gabor-pierce

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Nicholas Baxter, about to embark on his AmeriCorps VISTA journey with CIS, is seen here, taking his Oath of Service.

It’s time again to think back to when you were young and in school and recall that caring adult you felt especially connected to. Maybe it was in elementary school, or perhaps it was middle or high school. Who is that special person, who, even after all these years, you still carry within your hearts?

Members of the fabulous CIS team at Edison Environmental Science Academy have been taking up the challenge and sharing their caring adult. You’ve read about Principal Julie McDonald’s, CIS After School Coordinator Stacy Salters‘ caring adult. As I was preparing to run the post on AmeriCorps VISTANicholas Baxter’s caring adult, he informed me that he didn’t have a caring adult in his elementary or high school years and “so I chose the most attractive elementary teacher I had and although I do remember her being nice and, well, memorable she is not my most caring adult. I don’t recall anyone being a caring adult until college…”

NickSo, here now is Nick’s reflection about his real caring adult…

At Western Michigan University I had a German professor named Olivia Gabor-Pierce. She was the first person I ever met who spoke four languages and wrote books. She was incredibly intelligent and challenged our intellects inside and outside of class. We thought critically about the language we were learning; she loved that.

Throughout my entire college career she was always the professor who was able to ground me in a few words. No matter what was going on or how stressful things were, her caring, open, and loving demeanor instantly calmed life around us. She was the first person who ever truly pushed my abilities beyond what I thought possible, she saw things in me I never was able to see.

Nick leading students in a “Keep the Lights On After School” chant he wrote.
Nick leading students in a “Keep the Lights On After School” chant he wrote.

She told me I must go to Bonn.  “You must go to Bonn,” she said. It became a meta mantra that was engrained in my subconscious until I actually did go and realized a whole new perspective on life. Because of her heart always being open to her students, my eyes were opened to the world and for that I thank her and believe she deserves the spot of my caring adult.

Nicholas A. Baxter, AmeriCorps VISTA

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.

 

Pop Quiz: The CIS Interns Of 2014!

PencilsHave you voted today?No? Well, then, go ahead. We’ll wait… 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 have compiled some answers from the newest members of our CIS family: our 2014/2015 interns! We have 12 fabulous students from Western Michigan University. Nine are working on their master’s or bachelor’s degree in the School of Social Work and three are working towards their bachelor’s degree in health. Here they are, in no particular order (drum roll, please): Kendra McCarthy, Rebecca Mohney, Jessica Smith, Victoria Kiel, Alexis Maciarz, Shawn Jones, Katie Palazzolo, Gretchen Schultz, John Schneider, Edward Kamar, Luis Hernandez, and Alexis Noel.

Alright, interns: pencils out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

  • Recently, I’ve learned what dual assessment is; I’m still learning. I’m also learning about cultural humility.
  • I work as a phlebotomist and am also taking the class, Spanish for Health Professionals. I recently learned a phrase to use with patients: Necesito quitarle un poco sangre por favor!
  • I recently learned that schizophrenia may be caused by eight different diseases.
  • More about holistic health…successful aging regarding older people and health coaching. How to help people help themselves by giving them the tools they need.
  • The variety of services that are coordinated through CIS in the schools, like the dental van and food packs, working with Loaves & Fishes.
  • Recently, I’ve learned a lot about mindfulness.
  • I’ve learned how to change my car’s oil.
  • I recently learned some very important vocabulary words for my G.R.E. Also, learned the format of the test.
  • I learn almost every day from my co-workers different strategies while working with groups.
  • CIS is involved in 20 KPS schools.

What are you currently reading?

  • Stranger from a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  • Textbooks
  • Who Moved My Cheese?, The Ice Cream Maker, and Successful Aging
  • Gone Girl
  • Good to Great
  • Stress Test by Timothy Geithner
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • GRE Prep Manual
  • Grace and Grit by Lilly Ledbetter

What do you want to be when you grow up?

  • Social worker
  • Pediatric PA
  • School social worker and continue my passion of writing
  • Social worker in the schools or working with children who have developmental delays
  • Social worker in school setting
  • A great social worker
  • Still uncertain, but want to help children become independent and reach their potential
  • Physicians Assistant
  • Venturer

What is your favorite word right now?

  • Heyo! It means the same as new.
  • Travel. I have the opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia when I graduate and could not be more excited.
  • Colloquial
  • Be mindful, be present in the moment. Don’t rush. Relax.
  • Stress free
  • Conquer
  • Faith
  • Graduation
  • Yes, because it is a positive word.
  • Bazinga
  • Cat

Will you share with us something that has been on your mind lately?

  • Trying to figure out what I want to focus on within social work.
  • I am trying to decide what I will do after graduation—so many options but some involve tough choices.
  • I am worried that I will stress out too much with my job, my classes, internship, not get enough sleep. I need to learn/practice self-care techniques.
  • Many different things: school, bills, relationships, internship, being mindful throughout my day.
  • How I will feel/react when something happens in my internship that makes me upset or uncomfortable.
  • Being able to manage everything all at once.
  • Time management, as it pertains to school and my internship.
  • Cold weather is coming. Kalamazoo needs more shelters for homeless, warm clothes, and even services for stray animals.
  • How I did on my exam yesterday.
  • My nephew and niece.
  • Multi-tasking—assignments, interning, my job.

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

  • My parents. They’ve supported me financially, emotionally, and spiritually throughout my life. Even now, through grad school.
  • My AmeriCorps team leader Jessi was a huge inspiration and taught me to be an independent and strong woman while maintaining relationships.
  • My mom when I was a child and my former foster mom/dad when I was a teen.
  • My mom. My mom has always pushed me to be the best I can be and encouraged me to get an education and do well for myself.
  • My mother! My mother has been there for me my whole life and is the only person that can, first-hand, lower my stress by just a phone call. She has taught me to be strong and have faith when in a bad situation.
  • My aunt. She has always supported me. She always has high hopes for me. She was one of the only positive role models in my life.
  • My mother and father. They have always been there for me and they have built me up when I feel the most alone. I can always rely on them to give me good advice. They have been shaping me ever since I was a little girl into the person I am today.
  • My aunt. After my mom disappeared, my aunt took more of a “mom” role and became more involved in my life.
  • My grandmother. I’ve lived with her my whole life and she raised me. She’s always been there for me when I needed it the most.
  • My second grade teacher, Ms. Jeski. She was a hockey fan and made me feel special since I played hockey.
  • Ms. Aleman. She taught me English.

Don’t Quote Me

BSWs-2014-300x225
Four of the twelve new CIS interns. The BSW Social Work students (from left to right) are: Lexy Maciarz, Katie Palazzolo, Gretchen Schultz, and Victoria Kiel

As I sit down to write this post, I’ve just returned from being part of the orientation for our new interns. All twelve of them! It’s a CIS bi-annual ritual that I always look forward to; welcoming all those fresh, new faces, excited to be linked to aCIS Site Coordinator and begin their work within a Kalamazoo Public School. Deb Faling, Director of Social Emotional Learning, supervises the social work interns. “Welcoming our interns each year is like going back to school for me. My social work internships played an important role in my life. The joy of direct practice and mentorship by an experienced practitioner is the heart of what makes social work education so unique. An internship is the core process to becoming part of the profession and going on to make an impact on your chosen community. From the standpoint of our children, they benefit from one on one service by students who have specifically chosen this type of work as their life focus. These interns want to be there for our kids and they create opportunities and learning moments that stay with the children long after the internship is over.”

We’ll introduce you to this year’s nine social work and three health interns—all affiliated through our partnership with Western Michigan University—in a future blog post. Yes, we had them take our pop quiz and, being the good college and graduate students they are, they were up for the challenge! But, for now, thought you might be interested in a “behind the scenes” look at the exercise we did as a way to get to know each other better and begin the conversation about what it takes to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

We placed a quote in each of the four corners of the room. The interns were instructed to read each one and then stand by the quote that spoke to them the most. Then we discussed what they picked and why it resonated with them. Here are the quotes they read:

I might just be my mother’s child, but in all reality I’m everybody’s child.

Nobody raised me; I was raised in this society.

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.

Which one speaks to you? Perhaps several or all do, but which one resonates with you the most right now? Why?

Each quote, I think, speaks to a dimension of what CIS and its school and community partners are trying to do, not just here in Kalamazoo, but throughout the country: recognize that every child is our child. And, if we hold this to be true, we must expect the best and set high standards for all of our children. Every moment with every child is a moment we must seize. As CIS AmeriCorps VISTA Lauren Longwell said at the training, “Our kids need us to be consistent. They need us to be present to them. We need to show up and be there for them.” Our children learn to believe in themselves because we believe in them. And they will, as one of the interns pointed out, “live up to as low or high as we set the bar.” So we might as well set the bar high and see where it takes our kids—and us. Hey, that sounds pretty good. Okay, go ahead and quote me.

Wondering who the four quotes are attributed to? In order of how they appear above: Tupac Shakur, Wes Stafford, John Whitehead, and Lady Bird Johnson.

 

Pop Quiz: The CIS Interns Of 2013!

(From left) Pictured are MSW students Kent Craig, Lenia Harris, Mallory Horein, and Shelby Plichota, meeting with Deb Faling, CIS Director of Social-Emotional Health Initiatives for group supervision.
(From left) Pictured are MSW students Kent Craig, Lenia Harris, Mallory Horein, and Shelby Plichota, meeting with Deb Faling, CIS Director of Social-Emotional Health Initiatives for group supervision.

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 have compiled some answers from the newest members of our CIS family: our 2013/2014 interns! We have 10 fabulous students from Western Michigan University School of Social Work (six working on their Masters and four working towards their bachelors). Here they are, in no particular order (drum roll, please): Kenneth Craig, Shelby Plichota, Emily Hershberger, Mallory Horein, Lenia Harris, Ashley Seitz, Molly Tule, Lauren Knibbs, Kali Wood-Schrantz, and Jamie Anderson.

Alright, interns: pencils out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

  • I am currently learning how to write a research proposal.
  • 70% of treatment outcomes are based on common factors.
  • There are sensors at the turning light by Howard Street and Stadium Drive.
  • I’ve learned about the history of mental illness and important people in the history of treatment.
  • I recently watched a movie about incarceration. It showed a life story about a young boy being mandated to serve ten years for drugs. I am learning about minimum sentences in prison and how it affects people.
  • That there’s a crazy amount of people who are uninsured. Crazy and scary!
  • Epistemology means the study of knowledge.
  • I’ve recently learned (in my policy class) that the unemployment rate in America is 7.4%.
  • The unemployment rate recently went to 7% for women and 8% for men because of the number of females graduating from college.
  • All the various programs offered through CIS, including the difference between level one and level two supports for students.

What are you currently reading?

  • Research Methods for Social Workers
  • Rhythm, Music and the Brain
  • Girls in White Dresses/Game of Thrones
  • Textbooks for my classes
  • School books
  • A Walter Trattner book
  • In the Shelter of Each Other by Mary Pipher
  • Heaven is for Real
  • The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Pachett and The Working Poor
  • A Mystery by James Patterson

What do you want to be when you grow up?

  • A social worker who works with young people
  • A happy person
  • School/medical social worker
  • School social worker
  • I am not sure. I was considering school social work but I am also interested in medical social work.
  • A social worker in schools or geriatrics
  • Social worker
  • I want to be a child counselor
  • A counselor
  • I  am unsure what I want to be when I grow up, but I am pretty sure it involves working in a nursing home/assisted living facility.

What is your favorite word right now?

  • Irk or discombobulate, it’s a toss up
  • Empathy
  • Bummer
  • Graduation
  • Keep trying
  • Organize
  • Putrid
  • Faith
  • Energy
  • Blasphemy

Will you share with us something that has been on your mind lately?

  • I have been thinking about learning to cook or maybe bake.
  • Balancing school, work and family.
  • Planning birthday parties (I have three in September.)
  • I’ve been thinking ahead to where I want to go and what I want to do once I’m done with school this spring.
  • How am I going to handle my load?
  • How will I make everything work? I’m too busy!
  • What I want to do after I graduate with my degree.
  • I am eager and excited to begin interning at CIS!
  • Microagressions, the small discriminations we all face on a daily basis although we may not realize it.
  • The Masters program at WMU.

Behind every successful student—and grownup— is a caring adult.  Who is one of your caring adults?

  • My high school softball coach. She has supported me long past high school.
  • My percussion teacher, Dr. Mueller. He taught percussion at Ball State for 50 years. He taught me about having a positive attitude and believing in the potential of every student.
  • My mom. I can always get advice from her and she always supports me.
  • My homeroom teacher in high school, Ms. Taylor. She was always interested in what was going on with me, encouraged me to try new things, and always had snacks available.
  • My aunt and parents.
  • My mother-in-law. She is selfless and knows how to make everyone feel loved and welcome.
  • My parents.
  • My mother.
  • My parents. They home-schooled me as a child, putting much care and time into raising my siblings and me.
  • My mother. She has always been my support system and my best friend.

Broncos Brake For Volunteers

Carly kicks off focus group as WMU students look on
Carly kicks off focus group as WMU students look on

Apparently, seven of our CIS volunteers didn’t get the memo that it was spring break! This past Saturday, seven of them showed up to our downtown office bright and early to be part of a focus group to provide their perspective on how CIS can best recruit and support volunteers. Carly Wiggins, Director of Volunteers Services moderated the session, asking questions that had been prepared by Western Michigan University students TJ Hogan, Denise Negren, Brenna Schafer, Gabrielle Hanson, and team leader, Rachel Duelo. The college students provided coffee and donuts for the volunteers and listened in on the discussion.

Rachel’s group is one of three teams of students who are part of Diana Berkshire Hearit’s Public Relations Capstone Class. Each is developing a marketing campaign that they will present later this month to CIS. We’ve asked them to focus their efforts on helping us deepen community awareness and support for Kids’ Closet/basic needs as well as volunteers.

This is the second time that CIS has partnered up with Diana Berkshire Hearit to serve as a “client” for her students. And just like two years ago, we are appreciative of the ground work Diana does in advance of our initial meeting with the entire class. As graduates of WMU, Carly and I are particularly proud of the way these young men and women have conducted themselves and the insightful questions they have asked of us throughout this process.

Rana Shammas, Steve Stapleton, Mary Lewis, Shirley Freeman, Doyle Crow, Jager Hartman, and Rosalie Novara, we are so grateful for the volunteer work you are doing with our kids throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Thank you for choosing to spend some of your Saturday morning with us. We will infuse what we learned from you into our work. We (not to mention some of our 12,000 kids) are already better for having you in our lives.