Albany, GA

In the words of a Communities In Schools of Georgia Intern

Crystal Rose McCarthy

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Tiara McGrew – Albany State University Intern, 2021cisga.org

I was given the task of working with Monroe High School, a school that Communities In Schools of Georgia had not worked with in years. I was told I would be given ten seniors to work, providing them resources and services that would help them graduate in May. The students given to CIS had not attended school in over a year. This presented a challenge. CIS focuses on student’s grades, attendance, and behavior. With these students not being enrolled in school, we had to look into new supports and resources until we could get them enrolled back into their high school or a GED program. With the support and consultation of my Field Supervisor, Ms. Simone Turner the Regional Program Manager for CIS of Georgia in Albany/Dougherty County, I enrolled the students into tutoring services to refresh them on their core subjects.

During weekly follow-up calls I performed with the students, I learned why they had not been enrolled in school in over a year. One student told me he stopped attending once the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and that in lieu of school he started working with his mother at a factory to support his family. Ms. Turner and I continued to advocate of behalf of the students over the next few months, while they continued attending tutoring and their weekly group sessions.

Another student expressed that after the birth of her second daughter she was too exhausted to return to school.

I am the mother of two young girls and after the birth of my second daughter I stopped attending school. I tried to go back once in the past, but I was unsuccessful. When CIS contacted me about going back to school, I was excited. I wanted to be able to earn my high school diploma that way I could attend cosmetology school and better my life and he lives of my daughters. While working with CIS I got a new job, and the agency was still able to work around my schedule and stay in contact with me. I attended tutoring sessions and group session with the CIS intern. In these sessions, I learned skills that have helped me at work, and I know will help me when I start the Fresh Start academy in the fall. I am happy I enrolled in the CIS program, they helped me get one step closer to finishing my education.—CIS Student Alumni

Each student had their own story, tribulations, and goals. They were determined to finish their education and I was determined to help.

Then, I was given another ten students to work with. They were attending classes and scheduled to graduate in May, but needed extra assistance to make it to the finish line. Ms. Turner and I were able to track the students grades as well as attendance. The students were also offered tutoring just like the others.

Prior to joining this program, I was failing two classes. I was a virtual student who had not been to school since the start of pandemic, which was hard. I did not enjoy virtual learning. When I joined CIS, I was at the point where I was transitioning back to in-person-school and I was nervous. I knew I would probably do better in-person, but I had not been to school in almost a year, and I was nervous that it was going to be just as bad as virtual. I expressed my concerns to the CIS Intern, Tiara and she served as a mentor to me during my transition. Each week we had a follow-up phone call where she would ask me about school and about my life in general. It was nice to have someone to express my feelings and concerns to.—CIS Student Alumni

I had them all come together once a week for a group session. During these group sessions I worked with the students on creating S.M.A.R.T Goals, Study Skills, Affirmations, and Vision Boards. We also had real discussions in group like life post-graduation and what it is like to attend college. For several of the group sessions I had guest speakers from Albany State University come and speak to the students about their personal experiences. There was never a week where I did not have participants. They stayed engaged and asked as many questions as they could. I tried my best to create a welcoming and supportive environment, because it was important to me that each student learned and applied their new knowledge to their daily lives.

Before I knew it, we were in the month of April. For the students not in enrolled in school Ms. Turner and I learned about their options and next steps from the school principal. Two qualified for the Fresh Start Academy, a hybrid program that works with each student at their own pace to earn their high school diploma. The other two students were too old for the program, which mean CIS needed to look into a GED Program for them.

I am proud of the progress each student has made. This internship taught me the true meaning of social work and advocating one behalf of someone.

These students have taken every resources and support that they could and used it to better their lives. They all have bright futures!

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I write articles for Communities In Schools of Georgia affiliates throughout the state.

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