They say everything is a process — and the foundation of an organization geared at reducing our nation’s dropout rate is no exception!
It began in 2010, when Dr. Jennifer Hefner, an associate superintendent in Alexander County, wrote and received a drop-out prevention grant through the Department of Public Instruction. The grant, which would last two years, paid for the implementation of three “student advocates” in Alexander County.
As student advocates, these individuals served to bring enrichment and support to area students, working with a concentrated number of individuals in academic, social, and behavioral facets.
While the grant would not last, Dr. Hefner knew these advocates were a valuable resource to the school system and began seeking options to keep them at their respective school sites. It was during her research that she came upon the Communities In Schools (CIS) model and became interested in the organization.
After conversing with Dr. Jeff Peal, another associate superintendent originally from Wilkes County and familiar with the organization’s presence in the area, the two contacted CIS of Wilkes’ executive director, Glendora Yarbrough. The CIS state office became involved, and — after a series of meetings — a task force was developed through community and business leaders.
The resulting needs assessment of the county led to the conclusion that Communities In Schools was, in fact, needed in the area. On August 9th, 2012, the task force voted to come under the umbrella of CIS Wilkes.
We changed our name to Communities In Schools of Northwest North Carolina in January of 2017. Our goal is to be more inclusive of the counties we serve, as well as allowing the opportunity for expansion. In November of 2016, Ashe County Schools contacted Communities In Schools of NWNC to expand into their county. As of November 2017, we officially have a site coordinator in Ashe County Middle School.