Kaitlin was an eighth grader who had been retained from the previous year. Kaitlin was often chronically late or absent and as a result, she was failing all her classes. When she made it to school she was often tired, withdrawn and disinterested in school.  CISS AmeriCorps member Jessica got to know Kaitlin and took the initiative to build a safe, trusting relationship with Kaitlin. In getting to know Jessica, Kaitlin began to open up about some of the challenges of her home life, including her responsibilities for caring for siblings and severe mental health issues of family members that sometimes made home and unsafe and unpredictable place to be.

Throughout fall and winter, Kaitlin’s case management was focused primarily on improving her attendance with family engagement, positive motivation and time management support. In the spring, Kaitlin made a huge change in her attitudes and actions toward learning. Beyond exponential improvement in her attendance, Jessica and Kaitlin met with her teachers to create a plan to graduate. From there she visited the CISS office nearly every day to work on major 8th grade projects and re-submitting incomplete or failed work. Kaitlin began to realize her own academic and leadership potential, inspiring her friends and schoolmates. When other struggling students visited the office she would often say: “if I graduate so can you, you just have to work hard.”

Cumulatively, Kaitlin improved in her final grades by 160% percent. Kaitlin’s hard work paid off as she was able to attend a reward field trip to EMP museum with other CISS students, all of her eighth grade commencement activities and graduated from Middle School. We are all proud of the great achievements she made, thanks to a supportive adult to help guide the way.