At the beginning of the year, seventh-grader Cassandra was unfocused in the classroom. She would act out in school, throw things, and faced multiple suspensions. Even when she was in class and doing well, she was habitually tardy and would often try to sneak out of class with friends. In the first term, she failed reading and math.
Her CIS Site Coordinator, Lizzy, connected with Cassandra and discussed her difficulties at school. After earning Cassandra’s trust and learning more about her challenges, she got her a book, Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones. The protagonist’s struggles with her family are similar to Cassandra’s and she felt a connection to the book. Before long, Lizzy and Cassandra made it a lunchtime ritual to read the book together and that time became Cassandra’s most focused at school.
Lizzy also connected Cassandra with a social/emotional girls group to help her work on her social skills, communication, and conflict resolution. Cassandra’s been making progress and opening up about her feelings. By the end of the school year, she went from an F to a B in reading and an F to an A in math! And she was recently cited by her school as making significant improvement in both behavior and academics.
It was more than just a book and a relatable character that brought Cassandra back to an interest in school. It was a caring adult willing to take the time to explore that book with her, and the emotions the book raised. CIS places caring adults in schools so they can connect with kids like Cassandra and get them invested in their academics again.