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CIS volunteers leave lasting impacts

HIGH POINT — Although local schools remain closed to prevent spread of COVID-19, Communities In Schools of High Point observed National Volunteer Week by recognizing top volunteer efforts and the lasting impacts more than 800 volunteers have made during the 2019-20 school year.

CIS typically works inside schools to help at-risk students stay in school and succeed in life. CIS partners with eight High Point schools, with a full-time site coordinator at each school, to bring community volunteers in to work as mentors, tutors, breakfast and lunch buddies, reading buddies and help with school-wide events. Many of these volunteers work weekly with the same student to provide stability, encouragement and mentoring. These positive role models leave a lasting impact on the students they work with in and out of the classroom, said said Catherine Niebauer, director of development and community relations for CIS.

“One of my greatest passions with CIS is hearing about a student or school need and finding a community partner that believes in supporting that need, ultimately helping students become more successful,” Niebauer said. “Thank you to all the volunteers, churches, and businesses that have surrounded our students and schools with their time and continued support this year.”

April and May normally would have been a time for end-of-school-year volunteer and student celebrations. While Guilford County Schools students are learning at home, CIS wants to recognize the students efforts, successes and the volunteers that made significant impacts at each school.

The CIS “Gina Jacobs Above & Beyond” volunteer award goes to an individual volunteer or group at each school that has gone above and beyond the typical duties of their volunteer role. The following people or groups received recognition at these CIS sites:

Allen Jay Elementary – Providence Wesleyan Church

Fairview Elementary – Monda Griggs

Montlieu Academy of Technology – Larry Diggs

Northwood Elementary – Geoff Beaston

Ferndale Middle – Alameen Haqq

Welborn Academy – Kelli Hackstall

Andrews High – Nancy Gray

High Point Central – Manna Church

Daniel Jones was named CIS Volunteer of the Year for his efforts at Allen Jay Elementary. His love for reading has been a natural fit to volunteer alongside the media center specialist. Jones spends three or four days a week at Allen Jay volunteering in the media center helping with day to day operations and assisting students in selecting books to read during their weekly visits.

“Mr. Jones started as a part-time volunteer and has become a fixture of the Allen Jay Media Center and a beloved member of the AJE family,” said Allan Johnson, Allen Jay CIS site coordinator.

Each year, a high school student is recognized for volunteering with CIS and being outstanding as a star among 300 high school student volunteers. The 2019-20 “High School Student Star” volunteer is awarded to Tyler Rhodes, a senior at High Point Central. Tyler has volunteered all four years of high school at Fairview Elementary as a weekly breakfast buddy.

“We never need to worry about if he will show,” said Pam Greene, CIS Fairview site coordinator. “He is always the first to volunteer when the high school declares a day of service and he always brings friends to help.”

In addition to being a breakfast buddy, Tyler tackled a variety of projects at Fairview, such as painting, tutoring, moving furniture, assembling new tables and chairs and helping with the Eagle rewards store. His cheerful attitude and presence as a positive role model will be greatly missed by students and staff when he continues his education at N.C. State University next year, Greene said.

CIS also is grateful for church and community partners that work with individual schools or the whole organization, Niebauer said. These partners often help with school supplies, food pantries, attendance rewards, teacher and staff appreciation, school events and other requests.

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church is awarded the “Communities of Faith Partner of the Year.” For 17 years, the church partnered to assist Fairview Elementary students. Wesley Memorial members provide backpack food each Friday to go home with students for the weekend, over holiday weekends and breaks. They also provide staff appreciation meals and snacks throughout the school year. A new tradition the Fairview community has grown to look forward to is the back to school hot dog picnic. During this pandemic they were also able to share food with Ferndale, Central and Northwood schools.

Harland Clarke, a new partner to CIS and Ferndale Middle, is awarded the “Community Partner of the Year” award this year. CIS Ferndale Site Coordinator Angel Harper had a vision after hearing the needs of students. Clarke helped Harper upfit and stock a food pantry and backpack program with non-perishables and provided refrigerator/freezers. The company also met the need for a washer and dryer. These resources go beyond Ferndale and can help other CIS partner schools.

The High Point Community Foundation is awarded “Community Partner of the Year” for helping fulfill dreams and visions. HPCF assisted with the dream for new classroom environments at Fairview Elementary. New dry erase tables bring a new approach of community and collaboration into the teaching environment. HPCF also believes in the dream of CIS’ Community Resilience Model. Through a Strategic Leadership grant CIS will offer training to volunteer mentors, CIS staff, school administrators and agency partners to improve understanding and responses to trauma and significant stress.

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