For one 6th grade student in Bellingham, Communities In Schools helped her move from chronically absent to thriving in school. Although school staff had tried to contact the student’s family multiple times, they could not reach a family member, and the student was about to be referred to truancy court. It was then that the student met Ari Wright, an AmeriCorps member serving as a Site Coordinator with CIS of Whatcom-Skagit.
As the school’s Site Coordinator, Ari began following up with the student and getting to know her. She checked in with the student, helped her organize her daily assignments, and walked the student to school from her nearby home. Since the student’s family was unresponsive to calls and emails from the school, Ari also got creative and started writing backpack notes for the student to take home to her mom.
“I wrote about how talented, creative and kind her daughter is, and how I cared about her and wanted to see her at school more often,” says Ari.
Ari’s gentle persistence paid off in the form of a reply letter from the student’s mom—one that included a new phone number to call. As the mom shared the family’s situation with Ari, Ari was able to refer them to local resources for additional support. By this time, the student was walking herself to school, going to class regularly, and making new friends at a lunch group that Ari facilitated. The student has since become a self-appointed champion of the lunchtime program and hasn’t missed a day of school.
“What she really needed was someone to meet her and her mom where they were,” says Ari. “I’m so proud of her.”