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Communities In Schools kicks off new school year

SALISBURY — For Communities in Schools of Rowan County, student success is as simple as ABC.

Plus P, Executive Director Ron Turbyfill added Thursday, addressing volunteers from each of eight Rowan-Salisbury schools served by the nonprofit agency.

The organization supports students on their paths to graduation by providing resources like basic necessities, school supplies, mentors and tutors.

Each support, said Turbyfill during Thursday’s kickoff luncheon, is part of the “ABC plus P” premise that addresses attendance, behavior, classwork and parental engagement.

Leading the charge are those whom Turbyfill called MVPs: the volunteers. They serve at Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenberg, Koontz and Overton elementary schools; Knox and North Rowan middle schools; and Henderson Independent High School.

Regularly scheduled sessions with tutors and mentors, explained Turbyfill, encourages student attendance and promotes positive behavior, all while making strides in classwork.

“These three things are at the heart of success for any young person we serve,” said Turbyfill. “And you all are working on all three at one time.”

Volunteers enable Communities in Schools staff members to serve as liaisons with parents, identifying needs and providing the necessary support, he said.

“Our folks are not school employees. They’re never going to be the one calling about suspensions or calling to say your student is repeating a grade,” said Turbyfill.

Instead, they are student support specialists who ask questions like, “How can we help your child?” “What can we do?” and “What do you need that we can provide?” Turbyfill said.

While student support specialists build these bridges, the agency’s staff acts in ways not unlike Clark Kent: They are superheroes cloaked in everyday costumes, Turbyfill said.

Their superpowers include passion, promise, connectivity, loving, teaching, mobility, authority and team-building, he added.

“We can’t be effective by ourselves. The best person in the room cannot go into a school a close a door and work by him- or herself and get anything done,” said Turbyfill. “You’ve got to build teams.”

With the two forces working together, Communities in Schools is gearing up for another year of changing the lives of students. During the 2018-19 school year, Turbyfill said, 86% of students served through the program showed improved attendance, 73% improved behavior, and 91% improved classwork.

All are evidence of the community surrounding students of Rowan County with a network of support, empowering them to achieve academically and in life through volunteerism and business partnerships.

Thrivent Financial joined the kickoff to provide 399 personal care bags for students.

“If you have to describe what is Communities in Schools, this is it,” said Turbyfill. “We bring the community into our schools in a very purposeful way.”

Communities in Schools is a partner agency of the United Way.

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