Communities In Schools of North Texas JANUARY 2016

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It is with mixed emotions I type this letter. After nearly 11 years of my life with CISNT I have been recruited to a position with the CIS National office as their new Regional Director of Operations. My last day will be in mid-February.

It has been an honor and a privilege to work for this wonderful organization and serve as its leader for the past 5 years. I have seen CISNT grow leaps and bounds because of amazing community partners and supporters like you. 

I am confident my new role will only allow me to support CISNT in new ways as I continue to advocate for students in North Texas at the National level. However, it is all of the partners and staff that work so diligently to help students succeed that makes it sad to transition. 

I am often asked why I chose CISNT in the first place. I reply with the Story of the Starfish.  The story, in summary, goes like this...  

There once was a child walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean. A man approached him and asked, "What are you doing?!" The child replied, "The surf is up and the tide is going out, if I don't throw these starfish back they'll die." The man laughed and said, "Don't you realize there are hundreds of starfish on the beach? What difference are you making?" The child bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back in the ocean. Then, smiling at the man, the child said, "I made a difference to that one!"
 
I will forever cherish my time leading this organization that helps children one-by-one back on a path to success.  I look forward to taking my passion for CIS to the National level while I continue to volunteer and donate here in North Texas. I hope you will join me as I continue to throw starfish back in the ocean.

Because every child deserves a chance...

Dana Smith,
Chief Executive Officer
Communities In Schools of North Texas  
Hero of Change

We at CISNT are very proud of all our wonderful Site Coordinators. Every so often, we get to honor the best of the best. Maegan Ruiz, Site Coordinator at Lewisville High School was selected by her peers as our Hero of Change recipient. Some of the words used to describe Megan are: positive, awesome, kind, helpful, great example, and brilliant.

One of her co-workers said "I think Maegan is INCREDIBLE at what she does. I feel like her calmness and tenderness is inviting and helps her resonate with her students, parents, peers and teachers. Her organization, attention to detail, and work ethic are all admirable. I am thankful to work alongside such a great social worker and am honored to be her colleague."

Join us as we celebrate Meagan and her willingness to step up and do what needs to be done to help her students stay in school overcoming incredibly difficult situations every day.
WISE: Women Investing in Success and Education
 
What is WISE? WISE serves as the women's a uxiliary  group for CISNT. Through various activities throughout the year, WISE supports the programs and students across North Texas served by CISNT.

Who is WISE? WISE is made up of a diverse group of women from across North Texas who value investing in the success and education of our students. Ladies in the organization include local business owners, community leaders and philanthropists.


 

WISE Events: WISE hosts a number of events and activities throughout the year in support of CISNT. These include:

Join WISE: If you would like information on becoming a part of this fabulous group, please contact us at wise@cisnt.org
Volunteer Spotlight

Samantha just began her CISNT mentoring experience at Lee Elementary in November and was eager and excited to meet her student.  They immediately hit it off and had a successful start. Unfortunately, after only two weeks together, the student found out that she would be moving after Thanksgiving and wouldn't be able to see Samantha anymore. This kind of bump in the road can sometimes discourage mentors from continuing, but Samantha was not deterred!  While both she and her student were sad, they had a positive last meeting together and wished each other well. Samantha did not skip a beat and was immediately matched with a fifth grade girl, we will call her Kay. During their first meeting they made friendship bracelets and talked about what Kay wants to be when she grows up. After their first meeting, Kay expressed to CISNT Site Coordinator Meg Hudson how much fun she had and that she couldn't wait to see Samantha again next week.
 
Kay has an extremely bubbly personality but struggles in social situations. She is very energetic so she tends to get sidetracked, but Samantha is so patient with her and helps her stay focused. Samantha is so genuinely interested in Kay and what she likes to do that Kay has expressed an interest in teaching Samantha how to sew. It's wonderful to see a pairing where both the mentor and the student are pouring into each others' lives. Meg is excited to see what blossoms out of this pairing as the school year continues. 

Learn more about how you can make a difference in a life today at http://cisnt.org/volunteer or by emailing us at volunteer@cisnt.org

Animal Assisted Therapy Making a Difference
  
Meet Zoe. She is an Animal Assisted Therapy Dog working in Bridgeport Intermediate with 8 students and several groups in the school. Zoe loves her job and can't wait to get to work every morning. Zoe will even pick out the outfit she wants to wear and once dressed, she will wait patiently in her carrier until it's time to leave. Here is just one of the stories about how Zoe is making an impact on students from Lisa Hernan dez, CISNT Program Manager at Bridgeport Intermediate.
 
There is a boy who is non-verbal and will only speak in one or two word sentences when does speak. He is in SPED an d has a lot of trouble with any type of self expression, especially emotional expression.  With all the children, we have an expectation that if anyone wants to pet Zoe while in the hall or out of the C IS office, they must first ask an d wait for verbal permission to pet her. This allows me to ensure safety of everyone. 

One afternoon, Zoe and I were making our rounds around the school and this student was walking with his teacher. Out of the blue, the student looks up at his teacher and say's "I want to pet Zoe." His teacher was shocked that he spoke a complete sentence. She stopped us in the hall and told me that this student would really like to pet Zoe. Me, not knowing this student, gently instructed the student to ask to pet her as this was the expectation. He shyly looked at me and said, "Can I pet?" The teacher was wide eyed and looked amazed. Of course I obliged. I asked him if he would like to give her some treats and make her do some tricks. He nodded so I told him what to say to Zoe and he repeated exactly what I told him. The more Zoe responded to him, the more confident his voice became and the more relaxed he became with her. He spoke in complete sentences with Zoe. His teacher later came to me to tell me what an amazing thing it was. She explained to me that he does not talk and never in complete sentences like he was doing with Zoe. 

He is now on my caseload and comes to see Zoe for one to one time once a week. He talks to  her
about things that he doesn't talk about with teachers. I have seen an improvement of his emotional expression. He will hug Zoe and whisper things to her. They have their own conversa tio ns, just between the two of them. For one of his classes, he keeps a journal that he is able to write what happens during his day. It is being filled with things that he and Zoe do together. Zoe has been making such a great impact with this student. 
Holiday Assistance Serves Hundreds
 
Thanks to all our community partners, we were able to provide clothing, shoes, bikes, and toys to over 900 individual students. In addition, we served 350 families with food baskets and basic needs items. Thank you to:
and all the churches, groups and individuals who worked with our Site Coordinators to make this possible. 

One of our Site Coordinators was unloading her items from her car and told a student he could have anything he wanted from the load if he helped her. The boy passed over all the sports equipment and toys to choose a new coat.  He said "this is the first time I've had a new coat of my own." When the Site Coordinator said he could still choose a toy, he chose a Frozen Doll for his little sister. 

Thank you for making a difference for all the students across North Texas.
Thank you to The Shelter Fund!!
Thank You to The Shelter Fund for your continued support of Communities In Schools of North Texas! 

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