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We may still have some cold days ahead, but it feels like spring is just around the corner! This time of year is always a chance for new growth and change, which makes our latest news especially meaningful - we are officially in a new office! Learn more about our new digs and what else our amazing team and students have been up to in this issue!

Ashley Hall, Executive Director


If you had ever visited our former office, then you know we had long outgrew it! Between a larger staff and the incredible and frequent in-kind donations we received from our amazing supporters, we were packed to the gills! Not to mention, CIS of Chesterfield had been in that office building for 15+ years - it was time for something new and bigger!

Our new office is located at 1808 Coyote Dr., Suite 100, Chester, VA 23836. The 2,000 square foot space has a team training room, tons of storage space, a kitchen, and room for us to add future staff members!

We are still getting settled in, but will soon be ready to welcome people to stop by and see i - including an open house in the coming months! In the meantime, we will have the same mailing address (P.O. Box 10 Chesterfield, VA 23832). As well, our phone number remains the same (804) 717.9305.

Join us in congratulating Saida Bouhajja, our Site Coordinator at Chalkley Elementary School, for being named a CCPS Superintendent's Game Changer! "Game Changers are those who step up to meet the needs of our students; offer support and access to resources that assist their colleagues; provide an extra layer of support for families outside of the classroom; and who generally make a positive and sometimes life-changing difference in the lives of our students, families and their colleagues." Saida is all of these things and then some!

Chalkley's School Principal, Ms. Hayes, couldn't have said it better, "
Since Saida joined our team as our Chalkley CIS Site Coordinator, she has been an incredible addition to our school's community. Her experience as a former elementary school teacher and Instructional Designer, combined with her intelligence, work ethic, and incredible project management skills, make her a huge asset to our students, families, and school community!"

Malachai has long loved the game of basketball. Ever since he was little, he looked up to players like Rajon Rondo and Kevin Duran, and has been a longtime fan of the Boston Celtics. Now, a senior at Carver College and Career Academy, Malachai continues his love of basketball and dreams of one day becoming an NBA player. A big part of working towards that goal is to graduate with his peers this year, which means meeting some other very important goals. To support him in his academic and athletic journey, our Carver Academy Reengagement Coordinator, Reny Harris is supporting him every step of the way.

Like many other high school students, the pandemic made it tough for Malachai to remain engaged in school. He struggled with virtual learning and social isolation. When Mr. Harris began working with him, Malachai was behind in his school work and chronically absent - he needed motivation and inspiration to help renew his energy and interest in school. Mr. Harris was the perfect person to do that!

Using his love of basketball as an easy incentive, Mr. Harris got Malachai back to school so he could recover his credits and bump up his grades - by doing this, he was able to try out for the school's varsity basketball team. He made the team and went on to be awarded the All District Player by the team.

Mr. Harris is dedicated to his work with Malachai and they are, together, working hard to reach Malachai's biggest goal - high school graduation!

Through the Virginia Reads One Book program, each year in the month of March, schools, parents, and communities are encouraged to read together. Across our CIS schools, Chalkley and Bellwood Elementary Schools are participating in this year. Students and staff at both schools are reading Dog Days by Karen English. Because of the generosity of program sponsors Village Bank, VCU, and Executive Women International Richmond Chapter, the students at each school have their very own copy of the books, goodies and supplies, and ways to celebrate their literacy over the month!
As well, throughout the month, there will be various activities connected to the books. For example, Village Bank, Chakley's program sponsor, sent a fun visitor to Chakley to deliver their books and get students excited about Dog Days - Super Banks, their dog mascot! At Bellwood, they did a big assembly to kick off the program, when they handed out copies of the book, backpacks and fun supplies, and even had two real life dogs there - Elsa and Keegan from VCU's Dogs on Call! At both schools, our Site Coordinators are facilitating the program and activities along the way!

Manchester Middle School is doing something very similar! Through the generous support of Virginia Credit Union, all of the students at the school have their own copy of Seedfolks by
Paul Fleischman. The book's "story is told by a diverse cast of characters living on (or near) Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio, each from a different ethnic group. Chapter by chapter, each character describes the transformation of an empty lot into a vibrant community garden, and in doing so, they each experience their own transformations." The students will spend time each week reading the book in small groups, will have regular discussions about the story, and Virginia Credit Union will also support a culminating program activity!

These literacy programs are powerful ways to get children excited about reading, not only strengthening their reading skills, but also developing passionate readers! Thank you to our amazing sponsors for helping us bring this all to life!

Rethinking Pre-K
CIS of Chesterfield isn't yet in the pre-k space, but it is something we are hopeful to explore in the near future! In staying in touch with the latest research, we came across an interesting news piece from NPR about flipping the current pre-k approach on its head. We'd love to know what you think! Respond to this email and share your thoughts!

Article: A top researcher says it's time to rethink our entire approach to preschool
by Anya Kamenetz

Women's History Month!
It's Women's History Month and with approximately 50% of our students being female, we have many young ladies to empower and inspire. Below are a few resources for you and the girls in your life to learn more about this awesome month!
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