Communities in Schools of Milledgeville/Baldwin County (CISMBC) has named its second-ever executive director.
Janet Cavin, who was the Baldwin County Family Connection coordinator for nearly a decade, formally began her new role as CISMBC director Tuesday. She takes over the position previously held by Sandy Baxter, who retired late last year.
“I’m very excited about it,” Cavin said on starting her new job. “I’d been the Family Connection coordinator for almost 10 years, and we have been very close partners with Communities in Schools that whole time. I had the opportunity to work closely with the organization and could see firsthand the benefit for the community and the school system that Communities in Schools provides. The opportunity to actually come work for the organization was really a natural fit because we do need to work with each other, but we have different missions. Being able to come here just feels like I'm continuing the community partnership work that I have been doing.”
Baldwin County Family Connection and CISMBC are similar in that both organizations aim to help those in need, but the two differ in the people they target. Family Connection helps families in the community at large by helping with job training, housing and other needs while CISMBC specifically finds ways to help students by providing things like school supplies, uniforms and tutoring through a partnership with AmeriCorps. Communities in Schools works to remove barriers facing schoolchildren on their journey to graduation. Cavin told The Union-Recorder Thursday that part of her first order of business as the new executive director is to learn about some of the organization’s success stories.
“There’s a lot of stories of students who weren't reading on grade level but wound up excelling before the end of the year,” she said. “There’s a lot of good stuff that's happening in every school, so I’ve been listening to the stories so I can share them with the community at large.”
As the first executive director, Baxter helped build CISMBC, which is the local affiliate of a national organization, to the point where there are now CIS site coordinators in every public school building. Big news came in late 2018 when CISMBC announced it would receive $2.5 million over five years thanks to a U.S. Department of Education Full Service Community Schools grant. That funding helped create the “Bee Well” school-based clinic located in the Early Learning Center. The clinic opened in October 2019, and Cavin wants to spread the word that the clinic is not just for students.
“It not only takes care of students, but their parents and family members as well as the teachers, faculty and administration within the school system,” the new CISMBC director said.
She also touted a coming addition to the clinic’s existing services.
“One of the really exciting things we’re going to be able to start this new school year is having a psychiatric nurse practitioner who will be working full-time out of the clinic. She can see students in person or through telehealth for medication needs or trauma. Having that kind of programming getting started is going to make such a huge impact on the needs of our students and their families.”
Cavin explained that she also wants to find grant funding that can in some way benefit students who have an incarcerated parent or who experience things like gang activity in their neighborhoods. Both can create emotional trauma, which can make life inside the classroom exceedingly difficult.
“What I hope to bring is a continuation of the good work that has been started, but also to begin to focus on some specific groups of students,” she said.
Cavin said she is enjoying being able to get her feet wet in the new job this summer before activity really picks up next month in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.