The Union Recorder

July 22, 2013

Creekside to welcome first CIS site coordinator

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County (CISMBC) is expanding its mission to identify the most critical needs of Baldwin County public school students and families by adding a full-time site coordinator at Creekside Elementary School this coming academic year.

“We’re very excited that we will have site coordinators in three of our elementary schools now,” said Sandy Baxter, CISMBC executive director. “The site coordinators will work together to coordinate extra services in the schools, uniform and supply closets and in other ways as we move forward.”

Creekside’s first-ever site coordinator, Jessica Coats, will work in collaboration with fellow site coordinators Kathy Benton at the Early Learning Center, Christi Tyson at Eagle Ridge Elementary, Joyce Denson at Midway Elementary and Felicia Cummings at Baldwin High School to bring resources to local students.

“This year we didn’t want to leave one elementary school out, so we will use Chase Greeson of AmeriCorps VISTA for about 10 hours a week at Blandy Elementary School to provide some support at the school and some of the same benefits as the other schools," Baxter said. "We plan to raise enough money to have a regular site coordinator at Blandy by next year.”

The site coordinator program has been able to provide students with academic support, which in turn has boosted the success of student academics.

“Before we had site coordinators, students at Georgia College really wanted to help and teachers wanted them to volunteer, but there was no means to facilitate that in an orderly way because of having to work with several schedules. The site coordinator program has allowed so many new things to come into the schools,” Baxter said. “We have a great relationship with Georgia College and we’ve had great success with bringing in tutors and mentors. During the school year, students gain a one-on-one relationship with Georgia College student tutors, so the child gets 100 percent of the tutors’ attention. Students’ grades and reading abilities have gone up because of that.”

Eagle Ridge was the first school to house a full-time site coordinator.

“Christi Tyson is going into her third year. Each year, the scores at Eagle Ridge have improved dramatically, and she knows she is one of the reasons,” Baxter said. "In partnership with administration, teachers and counselors, the site coordinator identifies the most critical needs of students and families — needs that are preventing children from succeeding in school and in life."

As with all CISMBC initiatives, the site coordinator program is funded solely through donations and grant funds. The organization was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to support CISMBC’s literacy programs and initiatives.

“We’ve received several grants from Communities In Schools of Georgia, and we’re continually looking for grant funding. We also utilize fundraisers and ask for donations and partner with a lot of groups," Baxter said. "By partnering, we can keep the cost down and still be able to provide programs. We’re very creative in how we use the limited funding we have so we can stretch funding to provide programs to students and families.”

CISMBC aims to help students who are at risk of failure to stay in school, achieve academically, graduate and become productive and contributing members within the community. As the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates, CIS connects students and their families to critical community resources tailored to local needs through a school-based coordinator.

For more information about the local organization, to donate funds or supplies, or to volunteer time, contact Baxter at 478-452-3408, or visit www.milledgeville.communitiesinschools.org.

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