A student success coach, a math tutor and a volunteer mentor walk into a school. Their impact on the students at Leland Middle School exemplifies how significant Communities In Schools’ targeted interventions can be.
One of those students impacted is an eighth grader named David. He is the youngest child in a family of four. His older brother is in the Army and stationed in Germany, and David lives at home with his two sisters and mother. His father passed away last year. David arrived at Leland facing enormous challenges.
David was referred to the CIS Action for Success program by his fifth-grade elementary school teacher for disengagement/lack of motivation and disruptive behavior/suspension. He had a behavior plan in elementary school and was referred to the Leland CIS program immediately upon arriving.
For the past three years, David has received targeted CIS interventions and support. He has received math and reading tutoring. He participates in the Why Try program with his CIS Success Coach Ms. Ruth where he regularly checks in to review his grades, behavior and attendance. And he also meets with Pete Erbe, a veteran of the U.S. Army and former teacher at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who has been his lunch buddy and mentor since sixth grade.
With CIS supporting him throughout his time at Leland, David has improved his grades, his attendance and his behavior. The number of disciplinary referrals he received dropped over the course of three years, and so far this year he hasn’t received any. His math skills have also improved. After just one math tutoring session this year, his math teacher exclaimed David was more confident and answered questions in class instead of sitting unengaged. The teacher went on to say that his attitude is much improved as well, with David sharing that now he understands it.
David’s mentor Mr. Erbe works with him to set goals for his education and encourage him to participate in athletics. With his mother’s consent, David is now also part of a neighborhood soccer team.
“Mr. Erbe helped me through dark times by talking to me about my dad’s passing. He made me laugh when I was sad. And he also encouraged me to go out for sports,” said David. He is so inspired that Mr. Erbe was in the military like his brother, that he plans to enroll in JROTC next year at North Brunswick High School with a future goal to be in the Army Special Forces Infantry. “If I didn’t have the CIS Action for Success Program with Ms. Ruth, I would be depressed, failing my classes, and getting into fights.”