Building Relationships with Students and Parents

Filed under: Duncanville ISD,Schools |

Hardin Intermediate’s new Communities in Schools (CIS) program aligns perfectly with the school’s motto “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” The program is designed to help meet the needs of both students and their parents. CIS-Grant-1Since August 2012, CIS representative Shellie Thomas has worked at the school to tutor students, offer counseling, enhance classroom resources, and even conduct home visits to discuss student or family needs. “My job is to meet the students and their parents where they are, building trust while being a person at the school to whom they can turn for help,” she explains.

The position was added after principal Crystal Cross participated in a multi-district CIS grant application. A first year principal with Duncanville ISD, Cross is familiar with the benefits of the non-profit organization, having served as assistant principal at three Alief ISD campuses with CIS staff members. “They’ve always been such a support to my campuses, not only to the students and teachers, but also to the community and parents. I knew I had to try to bring this resource to Duncanville ISD.”

CIS-Grant-2Thomas works with students like fifth grader Mia Charles, studying and reviewing homework before school each morning in her office. Mia feels the sessions with the CIS staff member have not only improved her math and writing skills, but have also helped to meet her needs outside academics. “If my friends or I have anything we need to talk about, she is who we go to. I feel comfortable sharing what’s on my mind with her.”

Fifth grade student Felix Serrano says that working with Thomas after school each day has made him a stronger reader. “She helps me with my pronunciation of words I have trouble with. It’s really important to me, because I love to read.” Felix is now more confident reading bedtime stories to his four younger brothers, and recently volunteered to read to classes at Central Elementary with a group of fellow Hardin students, as part of a service project organized by Thomas.

CIS-Grant-3Thomas serves as the CIS campus manager at Hardin, and as the area team manager for several programs at Irving ISD campuses. She’s already developing at-home summer activities for students. “I want to supply parents with ideas on ways to encourage their children to read and use math at home during the summer break, so they’ll be one step ahead when school starts again.” Hardin Intermediate is the only Duncanville ISD school currently participating with Communities in Schools, but Thomas says there are three other campuses interested in joining the program next year.