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Local program guides students to graduation, starting in elementary school

Posted at 7:40 AM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 23:15:56-05

WACO, TX — Students should be focused on getting an education, not challenges in their home life. This is why one organization is focused on clearing paths for success for local students.

Communities in Schools builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. They're mission is to decrease the high school drop out rate

“I was very troubled. I just had behavioral problems and it just helped me grow and become a better person,” said Amaya Jones, a senior at University High School.

She joined Communities in Schools in the 6th grade.

“I don’t connect with people well and they made me feel comfortable and with them I got to express myself,” Jones said. “I didn’t have to hide me, ya know.”

CIS partners school-based staff with teachers to identify challenges students face in class, or at home, and coordinates with community partners to bring outside resources inside schools.

From immediate needs, like food or clothing, to more complex ones, like counseling or emotional support, CIS does whatever it takes to help students succeed.

Natalie Fullwater, a CIS counselor, is helping 110 seniors at University High School.

She says her goal is to get students their diplomas.

“I feel like these are my kids, watching them graduate is amazing just its just a great feeling to see that they made it they overcame everything that they were struggling with,” Fullwater said.

Angel Resendez is a senior at University High School who says he was heading towards dropping out before joining CIS.

“Without CIS, I probably would have been a dropout or probably wouldn’t be attending high school right now, they motivate me to come everyday and do better,” Resendez said.

Resendez credits CIS for helping him deal with trouble at home.

“I was struggling with youth homelessness, and I finally got one and I finally got stable financially and I was able to provide for myself outside of school and inside of school,” Resendez said.

CIS supports more than 3,000 students in six districts across Central Texas.

“Everyone could need extra support and that's what we’re here for,” Fullwater said. “We do provide mentoring, tutoring, life skills and we also connect students to other social services agencies here in the community.”

The organization is supporting the students as they strive to succeed.

“When you’re stuck in something find someone to talk to, there’s people there for when you think there’s nobody there for you,” said Resendez.

Jones said the program has helped her see life as half full instead of half empty.

“Look at me. Twelfth grade and I’m gonna graduate,” Jones said.

For behind-the-scenes of the story, click here.