Back to School

      As a student enrollment coordinator, there are very few things I can’t do from the comfort of my computer. My boss and I always joke that if they put a coffee pot and a bathroom in our back corner of the office, we would never leave. We joke, but I hope it never actually happens because I would truly fear for my ability to maintain any type of social skills.

      With that in mind, after a while I started to become curious about what our site coordinators did on a daily basis at their schools. Following the suggestion of our Executive Director, I began reaching out to different coordinators to ask if I could stop by and talk to them about data, programming, and everything in between. Honestly, I just wanted to hear about their days.

      Whether I had visited an elementary, middle, or high school, I received a welcoming and unique experience at each site. I was lead on personal school tours, I participated in a 6th grade career preparation session (voluntarily, I could always use a little more direction), I helped hand out cupcakes for Honor Roll students, and even got to watch first hand one coordinator recruit a student to join CIS. I had one site coordinator sit down with me for hours and patiently go through every detail of her strategic plan for the school year just because she wanted to make sure that I left knowing it all. Oh, and on one of my visits I asked our site staff what all the name tags on her wall were for and she nonchalantly responded that they were for the hundreds of volunteers that she organized on a daily basis. HUNDREDS?!? Casual…

      I would always leave these visits so exhilarated. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job as enrollment coordinator, but a change of pace is always refreshing. Plus, I’m only here for a year; I want to learn everything about CIS while I still can, so these visits gave me a more comprehensive view about who our organization is.

      But with all that being said, I would be remiss to say that these visits only left me more educated. We as fellows were placed in these positions in order to contribute to our organization’s efforts in a powerful and meaningful way, and the CIS site staff should be a model for us all. Our coordinators, one of whom has been at CIS longer than I have been alive (!), are out there every day juggling the multiple roles they are asked to play within their school, and on top of that, finding the time to provide the support and resources our students need not only to succeed in school but also in life. And I think they’re incredible.

Perspective in CLT

Perspective in CLT           When I originally started brainstorming for this entry, I was so certain that I would write about transitions. I mean, it was so obvious. Here I am: a recent college graduate, in a city that I’ve never lived in before, with bills, loans and rent to pay. Oh my! I had always heard comfortably from a distance the scary stories of life post-grad, but I never thought it would all become so real. I suppose that’s growing up though.

But as days passed by and my time here at Communities In Schools got underway, I found myself welcoming this period of change as my own and the laundry list of worries didn’t seem so major anymore. More so than that, my time here at work helped me find my true inspiration for writing this post: perspective. But first, let me tell you a little bit about my incredible organization.

Communities In Schools is a national non-profit dedicated to addressing the dropout epidemic that plagues our education system today by surrounding students with a community of support. Within our offices here in Charlotte, I work closely with our Director of Research as an Enrollment Coordinator. That means that every student who is served by CIS-Charlotte at some point passes through my cubicle, and with our site coordinators in over 40 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, you could guess that I see quite a few files. It’s certainly tedious work, but I really do enjoy it.

Within my first couple weeks on the job, the entire CIS-Charlotte staff got together for our annual in-service, which was honestly the best introduction to the organization that I could have ever asked for.  Over those two days, I heard first-hand from site coordinators about the students that we serve and learned about the tremendous hardships that these students call reality.  It was so great to have this initial experience because it gave me so much perspective as to why I spend day in and day out dissecting data and examining spreadsheets. Those just aren’t numbers on the screen that I’m looking at, it’s our kids, and it still helps me remember that they are always at the heart of everything we do.

This in-service was also so impactful for me because it not only gave me professional perspective, but also, personal. During our programming discussion, one of our high school directors was talking about a big educational event coming up that was aimed towards the parents of our students. She explained that the event would be a sit down dinner that highlighted tips to parents on how to carry a conversation with their children.  This simple, yet essential objective really stuck with me because it made me remember the times when I would get so aggravated with my mom when she made me tell my family about my day during dinner. Of course the rebellious teenage version of me could NEVER understand why she insisted on asking every day. I mean, come on Mom! English was onlyyy at the same time everyyy day! What I failed to recognize was how lucky I was to even have dinner with them all together.

It’s funny what perspective will do to you.  CIS has reminded me to be grateful for every little thing that I have, even if it does seem as trivial as recapping my day to my family. That’s what this fellowship continues to teach me. I can’t help but smile as I sit here and write this because once again Davidson gets the last laugh. I may have graduated last spring, but this college will always help me learn even if it isn’t in a traditional classroom setting. I still to this day believe that I learned my most important lessons from the people that surrounded me on campus, not through textbooks or JSTOR articles, and I am so happy that through the generous funding of the Davidson Impact Fellowship I am able to continue to learn from the people here at Communities In Schools.