A few weeks ago, I attended a breakfast fundraiser for Communities In Schools as a guest of my friend Diane Olsen. It was the first time I’d heard about this wonderful group whose mission is, briefly, “Helping Kids Stay in School and Prepare for Life.”
CIS accomplishes this mission in several ways, but mentoring and tutoring are two important components. Linda Torkelson, senior director of marketing, communications and special events shared this photo of CIS’s mentoring in action.
When I listened to one of the students whose life had been changed by CIS, I knew that this organization was worth my support. Kevin Beck, now 20, led what he described as “a life of crime” as a high school dropout in New Jersey before an aunt who was a teacher influenced him to get help by making a move to Arizona. Beck enrolled at Metro Tech high school in Phoenix, where he was mentored by Lloyd Hopkins and began to excel academically. Hopkins helped him apply for college scholarships and Beck currently attends Glendale Community College, where he maintains a 3.2 GPA. He plans to transfer to a four-year university soon, where he will pursue a degree in pharmacy. Best of all, Beck helps do for other students what Hopkins did for him.
At the breakfast, Hopkins talked about the need at CIS for tutors, mentors, interns and volunteers for special events. There is a real need for adults who’ve been through school to commit to be mentors. Never underestimate the value of one-on-one interaction when it comes to motivating a young student to be successful!
Communities In Schools (CIS) has been in the Valley for 16 years and there is also a National CIS. President Laura Magruder heads CIS of Arizona, which created an initiative with seven components: K-8 Community School Partnership, Small School Academies, All-Star Kids Tutoring, College and Career Readiness, Supplies 4 Students, Arizona Diamondbacks Lineup for Learning and Americorps Vista. Visit cisarizona.org to learn more.