Dear CIS Friend,

The students are back! I am overwhelmed with joy to know that most of our students have returned to in-person learning across our CIS schools. While our team adapted to serving our students both in and out of schools, our model is truly designed to be implemented from within the school buildings. While there is great reason to celebrate the return of our students, I also know that they are returning with greater challenges, including one of those being attendance. With September being Attendance Awareness Month, we're taking a close look at attendance rates at our schools so that we are armed with the data to inform our attendance interventions Learn more about why attendance is so important, plus some big news about our expansion to a 10th school in this September issue!


Ashley Hall, Executive Director

Drum roll please! Communities In Schools of Chesterfield has expanded to a tenth school, Manchester Middle, where we are now serving an additional 1,000 students! Between 2010 and 2020 the number of Chesterfield County Public School students living in poverty grew by approximately 10,000. This kind of data is what fuels are plans for expansion. As the needs of students in our county grow, we are committed to growing our work to meet those needs. Our launch at Manchester is an important step in that growth and also helps us fill yet another feeder pattern - the path that students progress from Kindergarten to graduation. This means that our students at Chalkley Elementary, who matriculate to Manchester will continue to receive CIS services, which will expand to Meadowbrook High School, where we are also implementing our model! To hear more about this expansion, check out this video clip.

Did you know that an estimated 3 million students were "lost" during the pandemic? [Source: Bellwether Education Partners] These are students who have completely disengaged from school because of the many challenges experienced over the last year and half. We are seeing that play out here in Chesterfield, too. For example, among CIS schools the the number of students struggling with attendance, within the first two weeks of school, ranges fro m  22.8% to 37.7%. The school district's goal is to have an overall chronic absenteeism rate of 5% or less.
It might seem obvious why good attendance is so important - if a child is not in school, they are not receiving an education. Beyond chronic absenteeism affecting a child's academic success, it can ultimately lead to dropping out. As shared in an article from American University's School of Education, "
compared to their peers who graduate, students who fail to complete their high school education are more likely to live in poverty, suffer poor health, and become involved in the criminal justice system.
With the pandemic taking a severe toll on all students, especially those coming from low-income communities, our work to support our students' attendance is at a critical point.
Together with Chesterfield County Public Schools and our many community partners, we are stepping up our game to reengage these students through our increased attendance improvement work.
See the next article on one way we're doing that this school year!

We are excited to announce three one-year, full-time positions for this academic year to serve as Reengagement Coordinators. These positions are designed to reengage those Chesterfield students, at the high school level, who have gone missing from school, but still have the chance to graduate!

If you or someone you know may be interested in our Reengagement Coordinator Positions, please check out the job application.
We're looking for candidates with experience in case-management and conducting home visits.

For the last year, we had the pleasure of having Alexa Augone as our Mentor Coordinator through the Mentor Virginia AmeriCorps VISTA program. Despite the fact that in-person mentoring was on hold for our students, Alexa jumped in to elevate our mentor programming - making sure we were ready as soon as volunteers could return to our schools!

Her work with us included: mapping out the framework and materials for an industry mentoring program, which we plan to pilot at one of our schools this year; creatively connecting existing mentor matches in virtual ways; and developing and executing a mentor training and celebration! We are so thankful for Alexa's dedication to our mission and for her time with us!

When asked by Mentor Virginia to write a reflection on her time with CIS of Chesterfield, Alexa shared,
"I’ve learned so much this past year in my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Speaking to the hard and soft skills first, I learned a lot about trauma-informed care, resilience, and using a strengths-based lens. I was fortunate to be able to participate in a ..." Click here to read the rest of Alexa's story!

If you or someone you know would like to join our team as our AmeriCorps VISTA mentor coordinator, we're currently recruiting candidates!

Our Westchester Commons Concert is just two weeks away! You can support by simply attending the concert on Friday, September 17th and purchasing a beverage (or two). CIS will receive $2 for every drink purchased!

When: Friday, September 17th from 5:30 to 8:30 pm

Where: Westchester Commons

15786 WC Main Street
Midlothian, VA 23113

Who: The KOS Band

Outside of attending the concert, you can also support by signing up to be a volunteer.  We need extra hands to serve beverages, sell drink tickets, help with our bucket brigade, and more! Click here to read more about the volunteer opportunities and signup for your shift!

It is crucial to the academic success of our students that they miss as few schools days as possible each year. Attendance Works is a national organization that works to advance student success and help close equity gaps by reducing chronic absence. Their research helps inform attendance initiatives across the U.S. For a 6 minute watch, check out their video or you can visit their website to learn more about why chronic absentee matters.

Copyright © 2021 Communities In Schools of Chesterfield, All rights reserved.