Communities In Schools of North Carolina in Jackson County’s mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. In Jackson County, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 lives in poverty. Challenges outside the classroom can often stand in the way of success inside the classroom. Communities In Schools (CIS) goes “all in” using a comprehensive approach tailored to individual student needs, situations, talents, and abilities.
CIS’s Student Support Specialist, Megan New, works directly inside Smokey Mountain Elementary School, serving students in grades K-8. By building one-on one relationships and wrapping students in support and resources they need, her work empowers children to succeed at school and in life.
A 2020 IMPACT Grant from WNC Bridge Foundation positioned CIS to support 333 students at Smokey Mountain Elementary School in Whitter, NC. “The grant gave us the ability to adapt our interventions to support students in-person and online,” said Nevin Daryani, Director at CIS. “We also kept our work focused on three core areas; Reconnect, Reengage, and Recovery.” This approach involved CIS reconnecting with students and parents who had not been in the school building for 7+ months, re-engaging their families to address immediate needs, and helping students recover by providing social emotional supports to address isolation and trauma experienced throughout the pandemic.
Building solid relationships while focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion practices with their students, families, schools, and partners makes Communities In Schools a unique resource in Jackson County. Daryani explains, “We believe transformative relationships are vital to unlocking a student’s potential. We succeed by including in our strategies, ingraining in our culture, and reflecting on our behaviors, principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, we can break down primary and systemic barriers to create and sustain equitable outcomes.”