Chamber Member of the Year

Our organization was honored as Member of the Year by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, and our board member and former chairman Jimmy Hogg received the J.L. McGarity Citizenship Award. Board Member and Walton County Superintendent Gary Hobbs was sworn in as chairman of the Chamber. Pictured: Gary Hobbs, board member Lisa Pearson, executive director Angela Yarman and Jimmy Hogg. Congratulations to all of our volunteers, staff and contributors, and thank you!


It's Off To Work We Go!

It's off to work we go! These five awesome MAHS students headed out last week for their first jobs through our work with Great Promise Partnership. The program gives students extra support to enter the workforce by helping them identify and interview with employers, providing transportation, and offering mentoring.

Students were trained to begin work through the CIS Prepared, Polished and Professional program. L-R: Bryce Wymbs (employed by F.I.S.H.), Fantashia Robinson (F.I.S.H.), Audra Corbin (City of Monroe) Jonathan Yang (Carmichaels), Avundre Larkin (Sean Ellerbee Allstate). Not Pictured- Karmorreya Brown (Walton County Government). Thank you to these employers for helping students have the opportunities to be on the right track for success in life!

Fill the Bus Raises 10 Pallets of Supplies

Our second annual school supply drive netted 10 pallets of material to stock supply closets in every school in Walton County.  Led by Communities In Schools and the Walmart Distribution Center, the event was a collaboration among CIS, Walmart, United Way, FISH, and the Monroe and Loganville Rotary Clubs.

Volunteers from the Walmart Distribution Center, members of the Rotary Clubs and board members for CIS and United Way greeted customers as the entered the Walmart Supercenters in Monroe and Loganville and presented them with wish-lists of the supplies needed.  Customers picked up a few items and donated them at the school buses on the way out of the store.  At the end of the two-day event, two school buses were completely filled, with bins and boxes overflowing in each seat.

Site Coordinators and school counselors were able to meet at FISH to pick up the supplies and take them back to the schools.  Students will be able to get exactly what they need on-site at school. 

"It is important that students get a fresh start and have what they need to start school," said Walton County Superintendent Gary Hobbs.  "When they don't have the resources they need, it is very hard to get started on the right foot."

According to the Backpack Index, an annual national study conducted by Huntington Bancshares of Ohio, the cost of equipping K-12 public school students for this school year has jumped as much as 20 percent, one of the largest year-over-year increases in the eight-year history of the Index. During the same period, average hourly nonfarm payroll earnings rose just 2.05 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increases in back-to-school costs also far outpaced the Consumer Price Index, which rose 2.1 percent for the same time period.

"As principal of one of the schools that receives these supplies, I want to say how much we appreciate the volunteers who helped with this drive," said Bryan Hicks, principal at Monroe Area High School.  "Having these items in stock at the school helps many of our students start the school year on the right foot and stay on track all year."


Local Students Are Part of the World's Biggest Graduation Celebration

The Class of 2014 holds promise for the future, and just like freshly minted graduates from years past, expectations are high.

This year's class will be a little different, though, because they may be on their way to beginning their new post-secondary lives as World Record holders.

That's right.  Students from the Class of 2014 from all over America are participating in the Communities In Schools "World's Biggest Graduation Celebration" and we're going big!

When students take a graduation photo and tag it on their social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) with the hashtag #ClassOfChange, they are showing up here:

Students from all over the country are being featured in this online graduation procession, which will be the largest of its kind.  The event is expected to garner the attention of the Guinness Book of World Records. Stay tuned...



Hard Work Brings Big Rewards

Students at Social Circle Elementary School learned a great lesson about hard work and perseverance this year by putting in the extra effort to meet all of their goals. Each student enrolled in the Communities In Schools program met with their CIS Site Coordinator, Ms. Rakestraw, to set certain goals to help them achieve more in school. Some wanted to improve their grades, while others wanted to improve their attendance or do a better job of following the rules and staying out of trouble.

Throughout the year, Ms. Rakestraw met with the students to see how much progress they were making, and along the way she helped them find resources and develop strategies to meet their goals. The students stuck with their plans and worked hard all year long. Grades, attendance and discipline improved.

So, just like in the grown-up world, the students who tried hard and met their goals were rewarded. Every student who made progress and stayed focused all year earned a trip the Zoo Atlanta and lunch in a restaurant.

The students may not realize that they got more than just a field trip, but we know that this experience has given them an important lesson they will carry with them the rest of their lives: Hard work pays off.


Showing PRIDE In Our Accomplishments

Students from Loganville, Youth and Carver Middle Schools earned a trip to the Georgia Aquarium today by working all year long to improve their grades, attendance and discipline through the Communities In Schools PRIDE program. We are proud of these students, who have made such great progress this year!


Change the Picture

At Communities In Schools, we work with everyone to change the picture of education for more than 1.3 million kids every year. We do this by: 1) keeping kids in school, 2) doing whatever it takes to eliminate barriers, and 3) never giving up on anyone. #ChangeThePicture


Exploring Careers at SCES

More than 30 exhibitors representing local businesses and organizations set up booths to showcase their careers at the 3rd Annual CIS Career Day at Social Circle Elementary.
Everything from healthcare to law enforcement, veterinarians to saddle fitters, and computer technicians to power companies was on display for the third, fourth and fifth graders to explore.

"This is great!" said Nancy Bardy, owner of Harmony Saddle Fitting.  "I enjoy sharing my work with the kids and they live seeing the tools and materials."

Jennifer Broun, CIS Board Member and Community and Youth Specialist for Walton EMC said the event was an opportunity for students to learn more about how electricity gets to their homes.  "It is something they just don't think about, but it takes hundred of employees with many different careers to make it happen."

Students were encouraged to "dress for success" and enjoyed a great day interacting with adults from all over the community.  "This is a great way to meet one of our important CIS 5 Basics," said Executive Director Angela Yarman.  "One of the things we work to provide to all students in every school we serve is a marketable skill to use upon graduation. The earlier we can get students to begin thinking about what they want to do after they graduate, the more likely it becomes that students will stay in school in order to meet their career goals."

"It's never too early for them to see the kinds of real jobs people have in the community," said CIS Site Coordinator Debra Rakestraw.  "So many kids think they are going to be a music star or a professional athlete.  Some of them will, but most are going to need a more realistic view of the kinds of careers that most people have.  The Career Fair is one way we try to show them that these real careers are exciting and fun, too."


Life-Changing Impact of the Site Coordinator

Last week, the Communities In Schools national organization recognized five outstanding site coordinators from across America with Unsung Hero awards.  As part of their recognition, these heart-warming videos were made to more clearly illustrate the impact site coordinators have on the students they serve.

Walton County is fortunate to have seven remarkable individuals whose impact is every bit as powerful as the ones you see here.  They are:

Amy Hunnewell - Carver Middle School
Andrea Mitchell - Loganville High School
Heather Wills - Loganville Middle School
Ivy Corder - Monroe Area High School
Debra Rakestraw - Social Circle Elementary School
Milisa Wise - Walnut Grove High School
Regina Bacon - Youth Middle Schools

If you've ever wondered exactly what a CIS Site Coordinator does and why it is important, here it is: