Communities In Schools transforming one life at a time
Posted on 10 Jul 2012 by Michael J. Solender
Charlotte resident Lashonda Perry has a future that looks bright. Perry, 26, is thriving in her role as a licensed insurance agent for industry leader Allstate. Growing up in Charlotte as part of a single parent household, success for her was not always clearly in focus. Perry said the dropout prevention program, Communities In Schools made all the difference for her.
Perry participated along with other family members in Communities In Schools intervention programs when she was in middle school at Coulwood, and high school at West Charlotte. “It really made a significant difference for me,” said Perry. “I received leadership skills training and also was continually encouraged to dream big and know that anything was possible. The programs and people were very inspiring for me.”
A North Carolina A&T University graduate, Perry is a volunteer for Communities In Schools where she is a weekly “lunch buddy” and mentor to a ten year-old student at Walter G. Byers Elementary school. Perry feels strongly about delivering the same kind of support she received as a youngster and knows firsthand how support, encouragement and positive role models can make a difference in the lives of students at risk of dropping out of school.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Communities In Schools is an affiliate of the national Communities In Schools network, serving over 6,500 students annually in 44 high poverty Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who are most at-risk for dropping out. Their mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. As the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, Communities In Schools is helping build a stronger local community where every child is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential.
May Johnston is the community relations director for Charlotte CIS. “We work with children beginning in kindergarten all the way through high school,” said Johnston, “It is critical that our kids have the support they need whether it is a good breakfast and snacks so they are ready to learn or having the appropriate school supplies and resources necessary, CIS is there to provide support.
Perry and Johnston were two of the over one thousand participants at a recent celebration recognizing more than 600 graduating high school seniors from 12 area high schools and 400 underclassmen who were recognized for attendance and other scholastic achievements for the 2012 school year. The celebration was held at Time Warner Cable Arena Uptown and was a joyful and enthusiastic event. Statistics shared at the celebration cited 99% of the program’s participants systemwide stayed in school for the prior year and 88 % of CIS students had a 90% or greater daily attendance average.
Perry has taken her enthusiasm for the outreach program to her workplace and through the Allstate Foundation secured a one thousand dollar grant for her outreach idea that will work to establish a community garden at the elementary school where she mentors. The Allstate Foundation donation to Charlotte CIS was part of their “Give Outside the Box” program where the company encouraged its employees to think about how they would spend $1000 to make a difference in their community. 37 such grants were made to nonprofit organizations across the country through the program.
“We are thrilled to be a recipient of such generosity,” said Johnston. “And knowing that the idea for the donation came from one of our former students was really heartwarming. Lashonda is a role model that others can truly look up to.”
Lashonda Perry would have it no other way.