On the Nice List!

Communities In Schools of Walton County's SCES Site Team hosted the semi-annual celebration of good behavior, attendance and class work with the holiday edition of "It Pays to Be Good." Seventy-eight percent of the student body earned a ticket by having no conduct marks, no unexcused absences and no missing assignments for the first semester. Helping kids develop good habits is one way that CIS works to help build a strong foundation in elementary school so students can succeed in the later grades, graduate and achieve in life.


Walmart Grants $4500

Two separate grant opportunities netted $4,500 for Communities In Schools of Walton County from the Walmart Distribution Center in Monroe.

The first opportunity came in the form of a Facility Grant, for which Walmart DC general manager and CIS board member Stacey Hodoh invited CIS to apply.  CIS was among several local charitable agencies to receive funding through the Facility Grant program.

The second opportunity resulted from the associates' participating in the 3rd quarter "Volunteering Always Pays" program, an initiative to encourage Walmart managers to volunteer by rewarding the charities they serve.  Associates earned $3000 for Communities In Schools of Walton County by conducting the Stuff the Bus school supply drive in August and the Clothing Drive in October.

"Walmart is a new partner for us this year, and the support they have given us has been amazing," said Angela Yarman, CIS executive director. "Each time they have been involved in a project for us, we have been struck by the scale of their activities.  Their capacity to impact a need is just huge!"

From school supplies to clothing, coats and canned goods, from sponsoring CIS families for Christmas to supporting our operation with grant funding, Walmart has made a tremendous impact on CIS this year.


Local Employers See Great Promise in Kids

Eight local employers have signed up to employ students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the work-based learning program offered by Walton County Schools.  

Eleven students at Monroe Area High School interviewed with seven organizations for a chance to become part of the Great Promise Partnership, a program developed by the Governor's Office of Workforce Development to help students develop workplace skills through part-time employment.

"We select students whom we know will work hard and represent themselves, their school and our program well, but who need a little extra support in finding opportunities and transportation to enable them to participate in work-based learning," said Ivy Corder, Communities In Schools Site Coordinator at MAHS, who implements the program locally.  

Carmichael Drugs, Allstate Insurance - Ellerbee Agency, Williamson Properties, Keller Williams Atlanta Metro East, City of Monroe, Walton County Government, and FISH interviewed eleven students to fill seven positions for part-time work beginning next semester. 

The Great Promise students, like all students enrolled in work-based learning, will be released from school during the final class period each day, and will go to work.  They will receive elective credit for their work experience as long as they fulfill all of the requirements, which include excellent job performance and some academic assignments about their experience. 

Students enrolled in Great Promise receive additional supports, including the opportunity to interview with companies who specifically want to employ students who need extra help, transportation to work, and mentoring on workplace skills and problem solving. 

Read more about the Great Promise Partnership here.


The World Was My Oyster, But I Used the Wrong Fork!

Communities In Schools at MAHS held the 3rd Annual Prepared, Polished and Professional (PPP) Dining Etiquette Dinner sponsored by the GOCF System of Care grant and Liberty First Bank during the 21st CCLC After School Program.

Dawn Griffin, president of Liberty First Bank in Monroe, led the lesson on dining etiquette and students ate dinner where they practiced their newly refined skills in dining. She was trained in business etiquette at the Protocol School of Washington, the global leader in business etiquette, image and international protocol training, The Protocol School of Washington is recognized worldwide as the most trusted name in the industry.  Mrs. Griffin has dined as a guest at the White House and is an expert in dining etiquette.  

The dining etiquette lesson was designed to enable PPP students to feel prepared for business and career luncheons. Not only did the students learn the proper usage of utensils but also proper dining conversation and a newly instilled sense of confidence.

Life Skills at SCES

Volunteers from across the community shared their time and expertise showing our future leaders the finer points of professionalism, courtesy and communication during the Communities In Schools Life Skills Program at Social Circle Elementary School.

Bill Inabinet, chairman of the board for CIS of Walton County, and other community leaders, held sessions teaching students how to show respect for others, shake hands and greet people, how to make conversation and how to make a good impression.  Boys practiced tying a tie, while girls learned the importance of dressing modestly and sitting properly.

"I liked having visitors come in to teach us," said one 5th grader.  "It was fun to have a class with someone different.  I learned how to act like a gentleman."

"Our students need to see people from the community come in and talk about the skills that have helped make them successful in life," said Debra Rakestraw, CIS Site Coordinator at SCES.  "I am thankful for all of the volunteers who helped make the day a big success."


Georgia Apply to College Days

Communities In Schools of Walton County recently hosted Georgia Apply to College Days at Monroe, Loganville and Walnut Grove High Schools.

Students received appointments to meet with counselors, college recruiters and community volunteers in their schools' computer labs on a special day set aside to encourage and assist students to submit their college applications.

Hundreds of students from all three schools applied during the event.  "This is a great way for us to help students prepare for the future by helping them get through the college application process," said Milisa Wise, CIS Site Coordinator at WGHS.  "Having the volunteers and college recruiters on site helps the students clear up any questions they have and get the help they need to make the best decisions about college."

Walmart Clothing Drive

The generous associates at Walmart Distribution Center 6055 in Monroe are at it again!  As part of their 3rd Quarter "Volunteering Always Pays" initiative, associates collected sixteen 50-gallon totes filled with clothing, shoes and coats for students in need through Communities In Schools.

Michelle Walker and Jasper Jones, associates who coordinated the drive, called it a big success.  "We are so happy to be able to provide these clothing for students who need them,"  said Walker, who is an operations manager at the DC.

Site Coordinators from all seven CIS Sites in Walton County met at the distribution center to select clothing that was the appropriate size and style to fill the needs at their schools.  Some selected t-shirts and sweatpants to help mitigate dress code problems and help keep kids in class.  Some selected professsional dress to help students who were interviewing for jobs, awards, competitions and other opportunities.  Others picked up coats and sweaters to help students who needed help staying warm this season.   The clothing is kept on-site in each school to meet needs immediately as they arise.

"We are simply overwhelmed with gratitude for this outpouring of generosity from the Walmart associates," said Angela Yarman, executive director of Communities In Schools of Walton County.  "The associates took such care to be sure the items they donated were clean and in good condition.  That is not always the case with donated clothing, but the Walmart folks really took good care of our kids."


CIS Celebrates Red Ribbon Week

During the critical middle and high school years, educating students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use among teens is a key strategy in helping them have a healthy future and achieve their goals.   Even  in elementary school, kids need to know the basics of how to avoid becoming caught in the trap of addiction. 

That's why Communities In Schools holds a strong commitment to helping organize and implement Red Ribbon Week Activities across all seven of the schools we serve. 

In cooperation with The Partnership for Families Children and Youth, CIS provides important education material, programs and special events to help kids understand how drugs and alcohol negatively affect their health and can potentially steal their dreams of graduation and becoming successful adults. 

Partnership youth development staff on hand at
Walnut Grove High School to help students experience
 Fatal Vision goggles.
Site Coordinators at each school designed bulletin boards to help educate all students about the different kinds of drugs and how each one affects their brain development and their health.  Site coordinators also worked with the Partnership's youth development staff to hold events during lunch which included allowing students to try on Fatal Vision Goggles, which simulate the visual impairment of intoxication, so that students can see how alcohol affects their ability to drive and make decisions. 

CIS Drug and Alcohol Awareness Bulletin Board at Monroe Area High School
"Red Ribbon Week helps students learn the truth about drug and alcohol abuse," said Amy Hunnewell, Youth Development Coordinator for The Partnership and CIS Site Coordinator for Carver Middle School.  "Students often hear from negative voices who make drugs seem glamorous and exciting.  They need to know how destructive these habits really are."


It Can Wait: Don't Text and Drive

Walnut Grove, Monroe Area and Loganville High Schools participated in the national drive for pledges in the "It Can Wait" campaign to not text while driving. Schools held morning assemblies where CIS Site Coordinators presented AT&T's documentary, then all students were encouraged to acknowledge their pledge not to text and drive by signing a banner that will be displayed in the hallways at their schools.


Check Out the Communities In Schools Parent Resource Center Online!

As school gets back into full swing, have you requested important school calendar dates to help your child succeed and do you have educational activities that can help? Visit our Parent Resource Center for activities and more.


Shop Kelly's Kids to Benefit Communities In Schools of Walton County

Local Kelly's Kids Sales Rep Blair Inabinet has designated all proceeds (15% of sales) from a special on-line promotion to benefit Communities In Schools of Walton County through August 23.

"Customers get adorable, quality clothing, and a great organization gets some well-deserved money love...WIN-WIN!"said Inabinet.

"This is a great way for local businesses to support CIS and we are so grateful that Blair has designated this sale to help our students stay in school and achieve in life," said CIS Executive Director Angela Yarman.

Shop online at and enter party #14670 at checkout. It is just that simple to support CIS! Shop online now through AUGUST 23!


Comic Book Club Helps With Reading Skills at Carver Middle

Evil villains lurk around every corner, wreaking havoc on innocent citizens.  But, look!  There's a hero on the way, dashing through the city with superpowers to save us!

What could be more exciting to middle schoolers that the classic superhero story line?  Comic books, with their engaging plots, exciting action, brilliant art and suspenseful cliffhangers provide the motivation that students in the Communities In Schools Comic Book Club need to improve their reading skills.

"The kids think it is just for fun, but we have a very serious purpose,"  said CIS Site Coordinator Amy Hunnewell, who organized the group.  "Students need to be good readers in order to succeed in other subjects, so giving them an exciting way to build reading skills is very important."

Students gathered once a week to share their interest in certain characters, to talk about the plots and settings, to see how the characters would grow and change and to experience the excitement of the conflicts in each story.  They also tried their hands at drawing their own scenes and writing their own dialogue. 

"It's fun!" said one 7th grader.  "I love comic books and I think it is great to be able to come to the Comic Book Club and meet friends who like it, too."


What Works: Stanford Social Innovation Review Features Communities In Schools

We are pleased to share this powerful article from today’s Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) profiling Communities In Schools in the “What Works” column:

The SSIR is one of the most influential publications in the social service sector.

The article provides a concise and thorough overview of how CIS works to coordinate community resources to help students overcome their personal barriers so they can graduate on time and be prepared for success in life. 


Enduring Lesson

Last month, CIS presented Chris Sandy, author of Enduring Regret, a memoir chronicling a fatal crash resulting from his choice to drink and drive and the lasting consequences of the incident, including the death of two people and eight years he spent in the state penitentiary.   Students at Walnut Grove High School were riveted by his testimony and were challenged to compete in an essay contest expressing the lessons they learned from his story.

Lindsey White was awarded a scholarship of $250 for her entry, which offered her reflection on the tragedy and how she hoped all students would learn from the mistake Chris Sandy made.  
Lindsey White, winner of the Chris Sandy Inspired Scholarship
with CIS Site Coordinator Milisa Wise


Walton County to Celebrate Communities In Schools Day on May 3

May 3 is Communities In Schools Day in Walton County!  Proclamations have been issued by the Cities of Monroe, Loganville, Social Circle and Walnut Grove, and by the Walton County Board of Commissioners celebrating the importance of CIS of Walton County and encouraging support from the community.

To celebrate, students from each of our CIS school sites will be serving the community at each of four participating banks.  Customers at Athens First Bank and Trust in Monroe, Liberty First Bank in Monroe and Pinnacle Bank in Social Circle will be treated to a free windshield wash, and will receive information about how CIS is helping students stay in school and achieve in life.  Donations will be accepted at each location. 


College and Career Expo

More than 1000 juniors from six local high schools had the chance to explore careers and meet college recruiters during the 3rd Annual Walton County College and Career Expo on April 11.

The event, held at Meridian Park, is a cooperative effort among Communities In Schools, the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and the Walton County Board of Commissioners.

"This is a great way for students to get a broad view of the many different careers that are available in our community and to learn how the work they are doing now in high school can help them be prepared for those careers," said Bill Inabinet with Athens First Bank & Trust, chairman of the event.

More than 85 organizations  representing 8o careers and 15 colleges entered exhibits in the Expo.  "We are so grateful to the colleges, businesses and organizations who set aside their time to prepare and present an exhibit to benefit our local students,"  said Angela Yarman, executive director of Communities In Schools of Walton County.  "This is something that was purely to benefit students, and our exhibitors were very generous with their time and resources."

Career Fair at SCES

More than 30 business and community representatives came to Social Circle Elementary School to share their careers at the CIS Career Day on February 28.

"Even though our students are in elementary school, it is never too early for them to begin thinking about the future," said CIS Site Coordinator Debra Rakestraw, who organized the event.  "The kids did a great job asking questions and we are so grateful to all of the exhibitors who came out."

Enduring Regret

Students at Walnut Grove High School heard first-hand how a terrible choice made in the heat of the moment can lead to a lifetime of regret.

Chris Sandy, a former prison inmate who was incarcerated after causing the death of two people in an automobile crash while he was driving under the influence of alcohol, spoke to WGHS students about how his decision to drive just a few miles down a back road impacted him and everyone around him.

"Students just don't ever think it could happen to them," said CIS Site Coordinator Milisa Wise, who organized the event.  "He came here to tell everyone that it can happen and it did happen to him."

"One minute he was a 22-year-old kid having fun with his friends, and the next minute, his life was changed forever by a choice he made,"  Wise said.   "Our students were really listening to him, and I hope they will learn from what he told them and not make the same mistake."

Read more about Chris Sandy and his story here.

Punctuality Pays at MAHS

As simple as it seems, showing up every day on time is a key factor of success.  Punctuality is an important workforce skill because employers know that missed time adds up to huge losses in productivity and profitability.  The same is true in high school:  when students miss school, they miss out on important instruction, study time and assignments which can seriously impact achievement. 

That's why Communities In Schools and the MAHS Attendance Committee have teamed up to offer Punctuality Pays, a quarterly incentive for students who consistently arrive on time for classes and those who are improving. 

Students who qualify  receive an invitation to spin the prize wheel during lunch and receive goodies like soft drinks, candy and chicken sandwiches.  

"The kids appreciate that we recognize them for doing the right thing," said CIS Site Coordinator Ivy Corder.  "They are so excited, you would think those Cokes were pure gold."

The incentive program is paying big rewards for the school.  Many students who are improving their attendance are also seeing marked improvement in grades.


Parent Resource Center Launches Mobile Site

Communities In Schools of Georgia has recently launched a version of the Parent Resource Center for mobile devices.

The site provides helpful tips and information for parents and caregivers to help support school success.

The Parent Resource Center also includes a searchable directory that makes it easy to locate traditional resource centers, often found in partnership with local school systems, in individual counties across the state of Georgia. 

The mobile site can be accessed from your Web browser at


Career and College Expo Returns April 11

Communities In Schools of Walton County, the Walton County Chamber and the Walton County Board of Commissioners will host the third annual Career and College Expo on April 11 at Meridian Park.  More than 1000 juniors from six local high schools will come through the exhibit to learn about the kinds of careers available in the area and to explore their college options.

Adult volunteers are needed to exhibit information about their careers.  There is no charge for the event, and it is not necessary to have current openings.  The goal is to allow students to learn about different careers and understand the amount of training and education that is needed for each job.

Colleges are also encouraged to register so that students can see their opportunities for post-secondary education.

To find out more about the event and to register click the link below:


A New Home for CIS

The Walton County Chamber of Commerce recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the new offices of Communities In Schools of Walton County.  Located at 131 Each Church Street in downtown Monroe, the new offices are shared with United Way of Walton County, Walton County Healthcare Foundation, and Walton Wellness.

"We are delighted to be a part of this new office," said CIS Board Chair Jimmy Hogg.  "It is a great location, and sharing the expenses helps us all."

The building was made available for rent at at below-market rate by Athens First Bank & Trust.  "We are so grateful for the support of Athens First," said CIS Executive Director Angela Yarman.  "They have been so generous in making this location a reality for all of us."

Athens First, Legacy State Bank, Hitachi, Liberty First Bank, Patti Souther State Farm and many others contributed furnishings, supplies and equipment to get the office up and running.  "We couldn't have done it without them," Yarman said.