Close your eyes and think back to your middle school or high school years.
Were your parents together? Did you live in the same house during that entire period of your life? Were your parents or guardians able to afford to send you to school with a lunch or money for lunch every day? Did you feel supported and cared for by family or another caring adult?
For many Communities In Schools students, those are wishes, wants, and desires. During the 2014-15 school year, 100% of CIS of Federal Way students receiving individualized supports were economically disadvantaged. For those students, their barriers to success ranged from home instability and lack of support outside of school, to food insecurity and struggles with school work.
“I want to have a normal life. I want to go to college, have my own place, do normal things and not have to worry so much.”
For one young lady at Sacajawea Middle School in Federal Way, her and her family had a history of moving around quite a bit. Her mom was single, working multiple jobs and trying to raise her and her four siblings. Her dad was in prison. She has dealt with instability, mounting responsibility and trauma for many years.
She recently transferred to Sacajawea Middle School and was referred to her school’s site coordinator for behavior problems and support with basic needs. She has been struggling to make and keep friends and fit into the new school. Her site coordinator Kimberly immediately connected her with a community mentor, who meets with the student once a week to provide encouragement and guidance. She also has been referred to professional counseling and participates in a small group during lunch where she gets encouragement and support from friends in her grade and other staff.
In a short amount of time, Kimberly has seen a significant turnaround in the student’s behavior and attitude toward school.
“Her attitude has improved,” Kimberly Foster, CIS of Federal Way Site Coordinator said. “She has more confidence in herself and those around her. I’ve seen her go from being a very frustrated little girl with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, to a maturing young woman who is excited for her future.”