Rebecca Achenbach: Each Student & Family is Unique
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 Rebecca Achenbach who, in the Fall of 2019, stepped into the role of CIS Site Coordinator for Linden Grove Middle School. She also worked throughout 2020 CIS Think Summer, serving as the CIS Think Summer Quality Coach, in which she was responsible for ensuring high quality programming for the student participants.
Rebecca attended Nazareth College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Western Michigan University. She holds a liberal arts degree, a degree in early childhood education, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Geography, as well as a Masters in Family Life Education with a certification in Adolescent Development.
Since she was 21 years old, Rebecca has been connected to the Kalamazoo Public Schools one way or another. She first interned in a preschool setting and later owned and operated a preschool, offering before and after school programming for K-6 grade students. (Many of the students attended KPS.) She gained additional experience running before and after school programs (held in KPS schools) for the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. She is also a proud KPS parent. Her daughter graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2018, and her younger child will be starting at Norrix this fall. Throughout this time, she also worked closely with the theater and forensic programs on a secondary level.
Alright, Rebecca: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What are you learning about yourself and/or the world during these challenging times?
During this challenging time I am realizing how much I love the extra time I have with my family, my music, my writing, my gardens, and the appreciation for all things simple.
What is one of the best parts about being a CIS Site Coordinator?
The best part of being a CIS Site Coordinator is that I get to work with not only the students that attends Linden Grove, but their whole family units.
Given the challenges we face during this time—school buildings closed and all of us practicing social distancing—what does your CIS work look like now? How are you continuing to support students during this challenging time?
The work is the same, but the needs look different, and vary more frequently. I feel barriers have increased for families, but as an organization we have thought creatively “out of the box” to meet the new needs that families have, or may come across. I feel the closure has allowed families to see more of a value of the services we provide, and I feel the connections have become so much stronger between CIS, families, and the school.
When it comes to CIS thinking “outside the box,” can you share more about that?
Thinking outside of the box to me in the CIS realm means not letting past experiences I have had determine how I will work with all my families. Each family and student is unique, and so each student and family I work with, and that process will be different, and you have to be prepared to try new things. I am glad I already had this mind set, as we move forward in our thinking, and how we will now work with families and our students that we may not actually have physical contact, or in person interactions with.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer and also The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
What is your favorite word or phrase right now?
My favorite phrase, concept, quote right now is to remember to move in the Way, or the Tao.
To remember I (we) are merely instruments in the hands of the forces, and to try to live in balance with what is going on in our world around us. To stay in a state of balance, rather than a state of how I (we) think things should be. The more you can work with the balance, the more you can stay in the moment, enjoy present life, and allow yourself to not resist, but to ebb and flow in our current situation.
Anything else you want us to know?
I enjoy writing and music. I play piano, ukulele, percussion, and I sing. I also love theater, and working with students in a theatrical setting. [In her role as CIS After School Coordinator, Rebecca shared her passion for theater with the students, initiating a theater club at Linden Grove Middle School last year. She had the students finish the theater club using Zoom and is planning to offer the club virtually again this fall.]
Thank you, Rebecca, for hanging out with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.
Tags: CIS, CIS Site Coordinator, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Linden Grove Middle School, Rebecca Achenbach, supporting students during the pandemic, thinking outside the box