Meet Lacey: A Story of Progress

Awesome. That is the word ten year old Lacey Weston uses to describe her experience with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS). A fifth grader at Arcadia Elementary School, Lacey became involved with CIS when, as a first grader she was struggling in reading and math. Reflecting on her experience with CIS, Lacey says, “Mrs. Husain is good. She really helped me. The support that she gives me helps me be a better student. It’s helped me with my learning and how to treat others. She got me involved in Girls on the Run and Literacy Buddies (Arcadia Rocket Readers). She’s connected me with tutors, too.”

Over the past five years, that tutoring support has come through various resources, namely through Western Michigan University’s America Reads program. In third grade, CIS Site Coordinator Gulnar Husain also connected Lacey with Literacy Buddies, funded by State Farm. The program brings Kalamazoo Central High School students trained in positive behavior and literacy strategies to the elementary school. “Literacy Buddies was the right service for her at the right time,” says Gulnar. “She really thrived. The progress she made over the course of this program was rather stunning.”

“The high school students did a lot of activities that deal with reading and we read a lot of books together,” Lacey explains. “It was just fun and they helped me learn.”

“Lacey is a beautiful person,” says Gulnar, noting that this young lady’s self esteem has kept pace with her growing math and reading skills. “It has been a privilege to watch the gains she has made—to see her blossom both academically and socially. She has built on her academic progress and is at grade level in both math and reading. In fact, she’s actually reading above her grade level.”

“It’s true!” chimes in Lacey. “I even read a book this year that had 11th and 12th grade words in it and then I took a vocabulary test and got them all right!”

“She is a stand out student,” says Arcadia Principal Greg Socha. “We’re proud of her accomplishments.”

Empowered to succeed, thanks to the combined efforts of her school, her parents, and the community working through CIS, Lacey has decided to become a doctor. She plans to attend Western Michigan University because “that’s where my tutors have come from… When I need help, I know I can count on them. I come down to the CIS office and ask for them. You just need to ask for help.”

“That, Lacey,” says Gulnar, “is the attitude that will help you do well in high school, college, and life.”

Sparks begin in many ways.