Last year so many great things happened in our community and our organization. We began a meaningful partnership with Korum for Kids Foundation focusing on the faith-based community.  Our annual fundraising Friendraiser Breakfast was our most successful ever.  And we connected with so many new businesses, organizations, and individuals in the Puyallup area. We also received one of the largest donations this organization has ever seen. Of course we wasted no time putting these generous gifts into action, and as a result we are pleased to announce our expansion to two additional full-time Site Coordination models!  This means we will have a caring adult in two additional elementary schools connecting services and resources to students and families.  What a great way to start the new school year!

We are always looking to remove obstacles, and provide creative and thoughtful ways to help kids succeed academically and in life. This year one of our top focuses will be on preventing chronic absenteeism.  Organizations like Attendance Works have found direct correlations between attendance and academics. Getting kids to school regularly and on time is vital to their academic success. We want to ensure that kids are coming to school by letting them know we care about them and we want to see them every school-day.   One way we are making this happen is by having our site coordinators greet students every morning.  This positively reinforces that we are happy to see them and have them in school.

We can already see results. Kayla Prewitt is a Site Coordinator at Karshner Elementary.  She checks in daily with a list of students who missed over 10% of school last year.  Kayla has been working with one particular family in her attendance club to find out just what obstacles they were facing, and what strategies they could use. Each day there was a different obstacle. Most recently she learned that one of the younger siblings couldn’t find his shoes and that is why they were late one morning.  Kayla recommended that before they go to bed, everyone lay their shoes out by the front door.  The next day, as she was greeting students, all three siblings come running up beaming with grins ear to ear because they had made it to school on time for the very first time the entire school year!

“Today a family who has been late every single day this school year, came to school on time. They are in my attendance club and it is such a big deal for them to be here on time and my heart is bursting with joy.”

Kayla could see how great they all felt about it, and she was so proud.

As important as it is to get kids to school regularly and on time, for many this is not the only obstacles students face. At Firgrove Elementary, one of our new sites, behavior has been a common theme preventing academic success. Our new Coordinator, Calvin Breamfield, and AmeriCoprs member, Lauren Pack, have been working with school staff to create programs and services as well as individualized plans for students based on common behaviors. It became apparent that recess can create an environment that can foster misbehavior.  The solution? More structured play!  Calvin and Lauren will now host intramural sports during recess where students can apply to participate. The application acknowledges that student’s must adhere to specific rules designed around respect, honesty responsibility, safety, and being a team player. They must also exhibit academic progress to be able to participate. This program will teach students how to interact with each other in a positive and respectful manner while instilling the importance of academics. And they will still have fun and be active.

These are just a few examples of how Communities In Schools of Puyallup is committed to looking at the whole student and developing a plan to address their varied needs.  Academic success goes beyond the classroom, and we are here to help.  In addition to support around attendance and behavior, we are here to be caring adults for students who need us, to build trust with these students and their supporters, and to help them achieve in life.