FOR Clubs Begin at Local Middle Schools

Students at East and West Alexander Middle joined a nationwide movement on Thursday, October 3, 2014 by hosting this year’s first “Friends of Rachel” meeting.  These clubs form in light of “Rachel’s Challenge,” a nonprofit campaign geared at decreasing school violence, bullying, and suicide.


If you are unfamiliar with Rachel’s Challenge, the campaign was formed in honor of Rachel Scott: the first teen whose life was tragically ended during the Columbine High School shootings.  Rachel was known for her kindness and compassion, to a level that her family has sought to carry her example onward and throughout the nation.
During Rachel’s Challenge, student and community members engage in a series strategies to improve the learning environment.  These strategies seek to equip participants with the tools necessary to create and continue school systems in which enrollees are able to feel safe and supported. Each strategy is based on writings found in Rachel’s diaries and journals.
During FOR clubs, students meet to brainstorm and implement these positive changes in their school system: They actively work to increase kindness and decrease bullying.  During the first meeting, members accepted “Rachel’s Challenge” and got to know one another.
If you are interested in learning more about FOR clubs, please contact Brittany Loudermilt (EWMS) or Jordyn Setzer (WAMS) today!

East Alexander Middle School Canned Food Drive

At Communities In Schools, we are continuously working to provide students with “The Five Basics.” These Basics are:

  1. A safe place to learn and grow.
  2. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
  3. A healthy start, and a healthy future.
  4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation, and
  5. A chance to give back to the community.

Site coordinator Brittany Loudermilt is making efforts to provide this chance to give back, as she is orchestrating a Canned Food Drive.  The drive will run from September 29, 2014 until October 3, 2014, and will benefit several food banks in the area.  These valuable community resources around Alexander are finding themselves in short supply, and Communities In Schools seeks to encourage students to help make a difference in their county!

Ms. Loudermilt is providing some special incentives for East Alexander learners and faculty this time, too.  Every teacher and youth among the grade level that collects the most cans will receive a prize! Similarly, the individual student who brings in the most goods will receive a special reward all his or her own.

Parents and Teachers: Please encourage your teens to bring in canned goods and nonperishable items to help this great cause!  If you have any questions regarding acceptable donations, please feel free to email Brittany Loudermilt, or contact her at 828-632-7565 ext. 333.

Volunteer Training at Hiddenite Elementary School

On Monday, September 22, 2014, Communities In Schools host our first “Reading Partners” volunteer training.  During the event, six new volunteer tutors were instructed in the usage and aspect of the Reading A to Z curriculum that will be utilized throughout the program.

Reading Partners is a direct result of a partnership between the Alexander Missional Network and Communities In Schools.  While CIS wrote a grant to NC Literacy Corps to have a volunteer join our team, Alexander Missional Network provided funding to support the initiative.

The program will take place at both Hiddenite and Taylorsville Elementary schools, and will focus on students in the third grade.  Sessions will be held  on Mondays at Hiddenite and Wednesdays at Taylorsville.  Each volunteer tutor will work directly with small groups of two to three students.

During the training, which took place at Hiddenite Elementary School, instructional coaches Brenda Siniard (HES) and Kelly This (TES) guided our six volunteers through the ins-and-outs of the work they will be doing with students.  Communities In Schools executive director Glendora Yarbrough also spoke with participants on best practices to implement as a volunteer.

There is always a need for more willing and able tutors for our Reading Partners program.  If you, or someone you know would be interested in volunteering, please contact Angie Yates by email or at 828-409-0231 today!

West Alexander Middle: Accomplishing Greatness!

Communities In Schools would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to West Alexander Middle School, as it was recently announced they exceeded expected growth during the 2013-2014 school year!

Similar in concept to height and weight charts found in your child’s doctors office, expected growth of a school compares changes in academic performance of the student body on a longitudinal level.  Simply put, scholastic fortitude and understanding are expected to increase a given amount between grade levels.  These levels vary year to year, with great inclines in knowledge during early years transition to more gradual growths during a learner’s later school years.

By exceeding expected growth, West Alexander Middle students’ test scores reflect greater performance and understanding than would have been projected when compared to those of 2012-2013.  What a great achievement for WAMS pupils and faculty!

Higher testing scores are, accordingly, linked with higher levels of proficiency in subject areas.  Currently, all Alexander students have a 60.2 % overall proficiency in Reading, 49.3% in Math, and 73.1% in Science.  With site coordinators now located at East Alexander Middle, West Alexander Middle, Alexander Central High, and a reading program at Taylorsville and Hiddenite Elementaries, it is our goal to see these numbers continue to rise in the coming years.  Stay tuned to see what we accomplish together!

Reading Partners: A New Program for Elementary Students

Since coming under the Communities In Schools of Wilkes’ umbrella in 2012, we’ve been able to bring many exciting and innovative opportunities to our students here in Alexander County.  The 2014-15 academic year holds no exception to this continued growth and development, as support from donors, volunteers, and partnering agencies bring more and more programs into our school system.

We are especially excited to have expanded our demographic this year through the implementation of “Reading Partners.”  Made possible through the NC Literacy Corps, this program brings Communities In Schools into Alexander County elementary schools, enabling us to impact the lives of our students during a pivotal point of their academic careers.
“Reading Partners” will take place at Taylorsville and Hiddenite Elementary schools, and will match carefully screened, trained adult volunteers with elementary learners at each respective site.   These volunteers will spend time reading with students, guiding them through reading comprehension activities proven to improve their performance in school.

Studies have shown that a student is set on the path to either graduate or drop out by the time he or she reaches the third grade.  Similarly troubling, youth retained in grade become increasingly more likely to drop out than their peers performing at grade level.  

CIS is sure to see a decrease in retention, a decrease in dropping out, and an increase in on-time graduation by intervening at this earlier age. To reach this goal, however, we will need your help!  If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering with “Reading Partners,” please contact Angie Yates by email or at 828-409-0231 today!

CIS at the Alexander County Agricultural Fair

If you happened to visit the “Taylorsville Lions Club 69th Alexander County Agricultural Fair” this year, you may have seen Communities In Schools’ staff and volunteers out in force!  Our Alexander crew set up an information booth for the duration of the event, and we were able to spread a little knowledge about our cause because of it!  

Though we have recently passed our two year anniversary as an official Communities In Schools program, there are many individuals throughout our county who are still unfamiliar with our organization and cause.  These five days gave us ample opportunity to introduce ourselves – as well as encourage others to consider donating their time, talent, or treasure to our area’s learners.

As part of the nation’s leading dropout prevention network, our mission is to surround students with a community of support, enabling them to succeed in school and achieve in life.  Specifically, we work through in-school site coordinators to bring in valuable community resources, volunteers, and more, to meet needs and bridge gaps between our students and graduation.

CIS is proud to say that every program we offer is entirely free of charge, though this would not be possible without the aid of partnerships with businesses and civic organizations, donors, funders, and volunteers like you.  We make careful strides to encourage these partnerships come full circle as well by giving our students opportunities to give back to their friends and neighbors.  Our students have even collected large amounts of aluminum tabs for the aforementioned Lions Club, the proceeds from which help acquire service dogs for the visually impaired!

If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering for or donating to Communities In Schools, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231 or by email today!

Communities In Schools Recognizes Businesses

In January of 2014, our executive director, Glendora Yarbrough, was given the opportunity to  recognize five businesses for contributions towards our organization.  As a nonprofit, our work among area learners would be crippled without the support of contributors, donors, funders, and volunteers — and we are ever grateful for those who find it in their hearts to contribute to our cause.  Together, we are making strides to impact the lives of Alexander County students, providing them with the tools necessary to succeed academically, and achieve in life.

(Left to Right) School Board Member David Odom, School Board Chairman Bridgette Rhyne, Duke Energy Representative Robin Nichols, CIS Executive Director Glendora Yarbrough, and School Board Member Milton Campbell.

Currently, our business partnership levels are as follows:
•    Honorary  – under $1,000
•    Silver – $1,000 – $2,000
•    Gold – $2,000 – $3,000
•    Platinum – $3,000 and above

The following businesses were those recognized for their contributions toward our work in Alexander County.

  1. Duke Energy (Platinum Partner)
  2. Craftmaster Furniture (Gold Partner)
  3. Hancock and More (Gold Partner)
  4.  HSM Solutions (Gold Partner)
  5. Foundation for the Carolinas / Shurtape Industries (Honorary Partner)
(Left to Right) School Board Member David Odom, School Board Chairman Bridgette Rhyne, Craftmaster Representative Kevin Mann, CIS Executive Director Glendora Yarbrough, and School Board Member Milton Campbell.

Kevin Mann accepted a plaque on behalf of Craftmaster Furniture and Robin Nichols accepted a plaque on behalf of Duke Energy.  The remaining plaques were distributed to the businesses unable to attend the meeting.

2012-2013 Expansions

The previous school year held a host of changes for Communities In Schools of Wilkes County.  From our expansion into Alexander County, to a revision of our policies and procedures, to saying goodbye to five long-term board members – the year was eventful and emotional all around.

One change we were particularly excited to see was the addition of two sites in the Wilkes school system: Central Wilkes Middle and Moravian Falls Elementary.  For the first time, we were able to serve these two schools with site coordinators.

If you are unfamiliar with site coordination at CIS, these staff members act as liaisons to bring resources, services, business partners, parents, and volunteers into their schools. This collaboration fosters a proven community effort to help students succeed.

Students at Central Wilkes Middle worked with site coordinator Lora Davis this year, who brokered in services such as Smart Girls and Wise Guys – our teen pregnancy prevention program – and Girls on the Run.  She also organized special guest speakers for the students, such as Damon Nash who spoke on bullying prevention.

Working at Moravian Falls were Tiger Posey and Amie Rose, where students participated in our Friends of Youth and Lunch Buddies programs, as well as the physical and mental health program Let Me Run. The two also worked within the community to bring in volunteers and donations for the school, successfully securing a dance machine, grill, and over 500 English and Hispanic books through First Book.

The addition and continuation of these new sites was made possible through the Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation.  In March of 2013, they provided CIS with $50,000.00 for salary support at the above two sites.

Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation is a supporting organization to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas South Central Community.  This is one of six Communities of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, an international order of Roman Catholic women religious founded in 1831.  The organization seeks to promote systemic change and assist individuals to empower themselves to improve the quality of their lives.

The foundation’s special heart for women, the elderly, and – specifically – children, made Communities In Schools’ site coordination a perfect fit as grant recipient.

“This is the faith community at its best,” comments Glendora Yarbrough, executive director of CIS.  “With separation of church and state an ever-pressing issue of concern and debate, far too many capable organizations shy away from assisting in an area of great need: the public school system.  We hope our partnership with Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation shows what CIS is happy to do: offer a safe pathway for faith-based organizations to extend their reach into the school system, wherein they can have a truly beneficial impact on the lives of our students.”

We here at Communities In Schools would be lost without the invaluable support of all our donors, volunteers, and grantors – but we would like to extend a special thank you to the Sisters of Mercy for this generous effort.

Bojangles Share Nights

Communities In Schools of Wilkes County – Alexander County Branch (CIS) is excited to celebrate our growing area partnerships!  The Bojangles of Taylorsville and Bethlehem generously donated a portion of their proceeds to our organization during two recent Share Nights.

During a Share Night, ten percent of the profits made between the hours of 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm are filtered back to the receiving organization — in this case, CIS!

Pictured here are managers Jeremy Pope, Nathan Annas, and Jason Gregg from the Bethlehem store, following the Share Night of March 19th. Our most recent night was last Tuesday, April 23rd.

Please check this blog and our Facebook page often for news of more opportunities in which to contribute to the nation’s leading dropout prevention program!  And from all of us at CIS to the staff of Bojangles and everyone who came out to show support, thank you!

West Alexander Middle School Staff Receives Training

Earlier this month, faculty and staff of West Alexander Middle School were treated to a special bullying prevention training session provided by Communities In Schools – Alexander County Branch.  Held Wednesday, March 6th, those in attendance welcomed William “Billy” Lassiter of the Department of Public Safety, Division of Juvenile Justice — who provided this professional development training.

Bullying is a severe problem in the United States.  Daily, 160,000 students miss school for fear of bullying.  Sadly, with cyber bullying ever on the rise, this decision can offer little escape to those affected – so knowledge, prevention, and action within the school setting is key.

Angie Yates, CIS Site Coordinator for WAMS; Billy Lassiter, Trainer; Dr. Chad Maynor, WAMS Principal

The training consisted of defining bullying, exploring the causes of bullying, and looking for new ways to deal with bullying — all of which go along with the core Communities In Schools basic: a safe place to learn and grow.  It is our mission to provide our students with the best opportunities and environments for success — and we thank Mr. Lassiter for his time and efforts helping us make this vision a reality.  For more information about CIS – Alexander Co. Branch, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231.