Slusser to retire from Communities in Schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 6, 2015

After changing thousands of students’ lives over her 17 years with Communities in Schools of Rowan County, founding Executive Director Vicky Slusser is retiring, effective June 30.

The Board of Directors announced Slusser’s retirement Thursday and is preparing to begin a search to fill the position.

In 1991, Slusser began her career with Communities in Schools (CIS) in the Greater Fort Hood, Texas, affiliate where she served as first as a volunteer. She was hired in Fort Hood (now CIS of Central Texas) in 1993 as a case manager and then as site director.

After her husband Mark retired from the U.S. Army, Slusser and her family relocated to Rowan County and in 1998 participated in the formation and charter of CIS of Rowan County. Initially, CIS of Rowan County served only two sites with Slusser as its only staffer. She served both Knox Middle and North Rowan Middle schools.

As an affiliate, CIS of Rowan County has experienced steady growth, serving thousands of elementary, middle and high school students. As executive director, Slusser now leads a staff of 11 trained professionals serving seven Rowan–Salisbury Schools: Overton, Hanford Dole, Isenberg, Koontz and North Rowan elementary schools and Knox and North Rowan middle schools.

The mission of CIS of Rowan County is to “surround students with a community support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” To that end, Slusser works to provide academic tutoring, mentoring, engaging families in schools, meeting basic needs and developing life skills.

In addition to training community volunteers, each of Slusser’s sites maintains a uniform closet to help students in need and partners with Food for Thought, Salvation Army, Rotary, Partners In Learning and local churches to send backpacks of food home with students.

Annually, the agency’s School Tools drive has partnered with local businesses and churches to gather and distribute hundreds of book bags filled school supplies.

Slusser’s un-official “No. 1 Volunteer” is her husband, Mark, who has spent thousands of hours assisting his wife as well as the site coordinators at CIS schools.

Slusser has grown the organization’s impact on students as well as its support from an annual budget of $57,000 in 1998 to a budget of more than $300,000 today.

She secured funding from a variety of sources including: United Way of Rowan County, Rowan-Salisbury Schools,the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation,  Salisbury Community Foundation, Speedway Children’s’ Charities as well as individual donors across the community.

Slusser considers herself as having grown up as a citizen of the world, being an “Air Force brat.” She expects to remain very busy in retirement keeping up with her grown children Lora, Kyle, and Jason and grandchildren Caitlyn, Alayna, and Madalinn.

Communities In Schools of Rowan County is a United Way agency. For more information about Communities in Schools or how to become involved, call the CIS office at 704-797-0210 or go to cisrowan@gmail.com.

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