Beloved: CYC Reengagement program
Another year passed and as Beloved watched her friends on the stage getting a diploma, she realized she was falling behind. She transferred schools during both her freshman and sophomore year and began hanging with the wrong group of students at her new school. Her mom kept pushing her to take school seriously, but a lack of confidence and toxic relationship limited her motivation. Then, she met Nakato through CYC. With her help, Beloved finished all of her credits within three months. She got her GED and was concurrently enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Emily Griffith Technical College. Today, Beloved is working part-time and taking classes to be an LPN.
Emilio: CYC Educational Intervention program
The first month of the school year, CYC’s Educational Intervention Specialist Mel received a phone call from a student’s mother who was concerned about her 9th grade son because he had been missing class, was not doing any work for school, had behavior problems at home, and was telling her he wanted to drop out of high school. He had missed a few school days and was failing 3 classes, 2 of which were important core classes.
After CYC’s initial meeting with Emilio, it was clear that he was a very bright student with a lot of potential. However, Emilio had outside factors impacting his success. His house was very crowded and chaotic due to his older brother’s family moving back in. This made it hard for him to get any work done and also was negatively impacting his mood. He wanted to drop out of school, start working, and move out of his home.
Together, Mel and Emilio put together a plan. He connected with a high school senior who had been in a similar situation and was able to speak about the benefits of staying engaged in school. Teacher meetings also followed, where CYC helped him advocate for different homework accommodations since it was so difficult to complete at home. A plan was also put into place to prioritize missed assignments and review grades regularly. Over the semester, Emilio’s attitude changed.
Although he initially wanted to drop his Honors English and Honors Math class for second semester in favor of the regular level courses, he decided to stay the course. He wanted to prove to himself, his mother, and his teachers that he could do better in those classes second semester.
Emilio ended up passing all of his classes first semester and is off to a strong start second semester. Without support from flexible and caring teachers, a student mentor, or CYC intervening at the right time, Emilio could have become a student who fell through the cracks. Instead, he has become an engaged and highly motivated student who is on track to reach his goals and graduate from high school.
Karina: CYC's Futures Academy program
Karina struggled in school and dropped out her Freshman year. Soon after, she got pregnant. She stayed out of school to take care of her daughter Mia for two years and thought high school was just not a good fit for her. Then Amber, an advisor at Futures Academy, called her and got hold of her father. Amber told Karina’s father Futures would help her get back on track and provide access to resources for her daughter. Karina didn’t want to go, but once she toured the school and felt how welcoming the staff was, she decided to give it a try.
Though she had a stable home at her father’s, Karina’s biggest challenge was how to go to school and care for her daughter and younger siblings, while her father worked. Each day she would get her siblings to school, her daughter to daycare (an Aurora Public Schools’ program, housed in the same building as Futures), and then attend Futures. Still she thrived. She started passing her GED tests and enrolled at the Community College of Aurora taking pre-nursing requisite classes.
After several semesters at the Community College of Aurora, Karina’s daughter was diagnosed with stage three cancer. Karina had to put her dreams on hold as she stepped away to take care of her daughter, but Mia was a fighter and after a year + of treatments, she was recently given the title of “cancer free.” Karina is more determined than ever to pursue her dreams of college and become a nurse to care for others the way that the nurses cared for Mia.
“The best part is I feel like I am succeeding, that I am doing something positive for my future and Mia’s future.”
Lori: Colorado Reading Corps AmeriCorps member reflection
As a grandmother, I have noticed that being a Reading Corps tutor has helped me become an even better grandma to my grandkids. I am more tolerant and patient with them. In turn, being a grandmother has helped me serve my Reading Corps kids with empathy and patience. Sometimes, these kids just need a hug and reassurance that everything is going to be okay, like the day that Andrew came to our session in tears. Instead of jumping right into our intervention, we just sat and talked. He was upset because of an incident that happened in his classroom. He came in last during a math speed contest and the kids laughed at him. We just talked and I told him what I see every day when he comes to work with me on reading - a bright little boy who wears his heart on his sleeve and a boy who has such high expectations of himself, he crumbles when he feels he isn’t perfect. I told him perfection is overrated. Embrace those mistakes and learn from them.
The next day, Andrew greeted me with a hug and told me, "Miss Lori, you saved my life. There's a sign outside your door that says 'surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine’. That is how you feel to me." I had to blink back the tears. Anytime that I become overwhelmed, or feel like I just can't face this challenge, I think about that moment with Andrew, or the fact that Hattie doesn't cry anymore, or the dozens of other little miracles that I have witnessed in this role. It gives me the strength to go on. I look forward to the next little miracle.