CIS Success Coaches change students’ path: In schools and beyond
Communities in Schools of Brunswick County’s (CIS) mission is “to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” CIS Action for Success Dropout Prevention Program is a primary partner for providing opportunities that support student achievement for Brunswick County students.
CIS provides an Action for Success program in four Brunswick County middle schools, Waccamaw School, and Supply Elementary School by incorporating Success Coaches, community volunteers, and club and business partnerships to support student achievement. CIS also supports Brunswick County students through Teen and Peer Court programs, 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program, and Parenting Education Program, working to build strong students and families.
A unique aspect of the CIS Action for Success program is the placement of CIS Success Coaches in each school for direct student assistance and intervention. CIS Success Coaches give students a consistent support person located right in their school every day to help them overcome their challenges and succeed at their highest potential. CIS offers evidence-based, student support where CIS Success Coaches are embedded at these schools to work with students through individualized student support plans to address school attendance challenges, behavioral needs, and provide academic support.
With schools currently closed due to the COVID-19 virus, CIS Success Coaches have worked to identify technology that allows them to implement remote student supports so they can stay connected to students and continue to provide needed interventions. Success Coaches are in regular contact with their caseload of students through phone calls, text messaging, web video and online programs, conducting social emotional learning (SEL) opportunities, tutoring, checking in with individual students to provide emotional support, troubleshoot internet learning challenges and providing connection to needed community resources. They continue to work in coordination with their school principals to ensure they are filling gaps and complementing the remote support the school district is providing to students, rather than duplicating efforts. CIS Success Coaches are also regularly in contact with parents through Remind, a chat program allowing for ongoing, interactive communication with parents.
CIS Success Coaches will even drop off or have school supplies delivered via mail if the student doesn’t have access to needed items. Success Coaches are not only providing immediate support but are demonstrating to students that with flexibility and commitment, goals can still be achieved, even if the path taken to do so looks a bit different right now. Modeling resiliency and showing students that their Success Coaches are a consistent, dependable resource, helps maintain a relationship built on trust and mutual respect, which is invaluable to at-risk students.
Even though COVID-19 has altered how students are learning, thanks to Brunswick County Schools staff and CIS, learning never stops. The new normal of social distancing, self-isolation, and the use of personal protective equipment is a scary time for everyone, but especially for youth. CIS Success Coaches are meeting student needs in this time of crisis and showing them they are not in this alone. Success Coaches go above and beyond every day to reach the most at-risk students to keep them from falling behind or falling through the cracks. They meet their needs and assist them in areas where they need it most. #LearningNeverStops
Just after schools were dismissed in March, the CIS Success Coach at Waccamaw School made several home visits to assist students and families with technology issues and setup for home learning. After visiting a student, she learned that his birthday party had been cancelled due to COVID-19 restaurant closures. The Success Coach returned later to the student’s home to drop off a “birthday bag” because she knew the student’s party had been cancelled. The student was so excited to now be able to have a birthday party at home. His grandmother expressed how thankful the family was to have a Success Coach to help them, even with non-traditional needs.
This school year (Aug. 26, 2019 – March 1, 2020), 381 students have been receiving individualized case management and other evidence and research-based intervention services through the CIS Action for Success program. Today, the way we deliver services to students may look a little different but the focus, intent, and goals remain the same: To help build strong young men and women who are committed to staying in school, graduating and going on to enjoy full, productive lives.
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