Breakfast Chat & Chew highlights impact of CIS

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CIS of Atlanta hosted a breakfast at Ronald E. McNair Middle School (DeKalb County) on Thursday, Oct. 30 for local officials to learn first hand the impact CIS of Atlanta is making in the lives of students, families and staff.

McNair Middle School Principal Ronald Mitchell welcomed the group and spoke about the vital role CIS plays in bringing needed resources to the school's students and families. State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, District 39, facilitated the program, and DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May was one of several elected officials in attendance.

As the group enjoyed a catered breakfast, a panel shared their emotional testimonials, including CIS Site Coordinator Pam Hurst, CIS students Jennifer Gaspar and Alexia Springer, a parent and two school support team members.

Check out the article published in the DeKalb Champion newspaper.

See photos from the event below:

CIS executives honored for their dedication to students

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Former Executive Director of CIS of Atlanta, Patty Pflum, and CIS Co-Founder and former President of CIS of Georgia, Neil Shorthouse, were recently honored and celebrated for their dedication to the success of students since the national organization was founded in 1972.

Honorary chairs were Bill Milliken, co-founder and vice chair of CIS National, and Brad Currey, George Johnson, and John and Susan Wieland.

Hundreds of friends, family members, partners, donors, alumni and current and former staff showed their support and love to Patty and Neil during the celebration reception held on Tuesday, Nov. 18. We would like to extend a special "thank you" to the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, who hosted the event.

Check out photos from the special event below:

West End student defeats the odds to begin a college career

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Dealing with the death of both parents, Tyrelle Smith couldn't take his academics seriously at Carver High School. He had more than 40 absences because he truly believed he didn't need an education to graduate.

“My counselor told me that if I didn't start going to class then I wouldn't graduate,” the 18 year-old said. “When the summer came, they told me I needed to go to summer school since I never went to class. I just felt like I didn't need it.”

Smith’s grandmother, Sharon Chainey, never gave up on him and continued pushing him to do better.

“He didn't want to go to Carver so we brought him to [West End Academy Performance Learning Center], and he still didn't want to go to school. I told him if he dropped out of school, then don’t come back home,” Chainey said. “I kept pushing him and kept praying. Before West End, Tyrelle was going nowhere and was floating the opposite way. West End was the place for him where everybody showed him love and support. This school changed his life.”

West End Academy Site Coordinator Lisa Wilson swept Smith under her wing to encourage him, provide mentorship and show him his true potential. By the end of summer 2014, Tyrelle completed four classes and had a 100 percent attendance rate.

“When I first got here, I didn't want to be here. I just kept going and got to know Mrs. Wilson, and I realized I liked school enough to do my work,” Smith said. “If Mrs. Wilson didn't stop me from leaving school, I don’t know where I’d be.”

In mid-September, Smith enrolled in classes at Arkansas Baptist College with plans to pursue a degree in psychology. He even landed a job in the college’s admissions department with the help of Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Steven Lee (District 5).

“I’m excited and happy that I’m making my grandmother proud, my principal proud and I’m proud of myself,” Smith said. “I never thought I had the option of going to college because I failed so many classes in my 11th and 12th grade year, but I did it. I thank my grandparents, [Principal Dr. Evelyn Mobley], Mrs. Wilson and Communities In Schools for helping me with my second chance.”

Wilson surprised Smith with $8,000 from the West End Academy Scholarship Fund to help cover his expenses on tuition, books, transportation and housing. Smith is the first student to graduate this semester out of a roster of 110 students at West End.

“Tyrelle is an awesome young man. He had a stellar summer and he did exceptionally well academically,” Dr. Mobley said. “He redirected himself to be the best he can be and became a model student. He is an ambassador of hope.”

The West End Academy Scholarship is made possible through generous support from the Robert & Polly Dunn Foundation. To contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

H.E. Holmes students pledge to not be monsters

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Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School fourth and fifth grade students were frightened, excited and shocked to meet Frank Shelly on Tuesday, Oct. 28 during the anti-bullying presentation "Don't Be A Monster."

In partnership with Communities In Schools of Atlanta, the Don’t Be A Monster campaign is a program delivered in the month of October, which is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. The program's cast is from Netherworld Haunted House.

The cast spoke about the effects of bullying, while encouraging the group of students to take a stand and speak out against bullying.

The star of the presentation was Frank Shelly, a Frankenstein-inspired character, who played the role as a student being bullied in school. Students watched a video about Frank experiencing mental, physical and cyber bullying by various students at the school. Although Frank appeared to be a real monster; on the contrary, the students learned that the real “monsters” were the students bullying Frank in the video.

At the conclusion of the presentation, students, in unison, took a vow to “to stand up against bullying.” Moments later, a surprise guest, Frank, appeared in person to meet and greet the students.

Don’t Be A Monster presentations are energetic and inspiring. Attendees are challenged to evaluate their understanding of the community and how to be more inclusive of those around them. By teaching students concepts like diversity, expanding their social circles, being a leader, and evaluating how they treat themselves and their peers – bullying will start occurring less in schools. Additionally, students leave the presentation equipped with the tools they need to have an educated and empathetic discussion around bullying.

Check out photos of the presentation below:

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