Family Engagement: Building Relationships and Partnerships, not Activities

Although the importance of Family Engagement is quickly gaining recognition across schools, it still means a lot of different things to different people- from principals, to teachers & staff, to parents and the community.  Everyone agrees that closer collaboration with families impacts student success and achievement, but a shared responsibility and common practice is yet to develop. Yes, traditional school-wide family engagement events are plentiful - from Parent Teacher Conferences, to Open houses, Back-to-school nights and other one-and-done activities. The challenge with most of these events, is they do little to foster meaningful relationships and real connections between parents and the school [...]

2020-03-08T14:13:00+00:00February 5th, 2019|0 Comments

A Volunteer Perspective:  A Vital Mission

  The economic benefits of ensuring access to high quality education are difficult to exaggerate. Many societal problems could be solved if people had access to the educational resources they need. My own educational opportunities have provided me with the freedom to pursue an exciting career, explore interesting hobbies, understand finances, and even cook delicious food. All aspects of my life have been deeply enriched by a passion for learning. This motivates me to give back in order to increase the educational opportunities available to as many people as possible. This is why I volunteer my time and money in support of [...]

2020-04-04T18:58:38+00:00February 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

Holiday Pop-up Shop

Most people are familiar with the old adage “it is better to give than to receive.” And this past holiday season at CIS of NOVA truly captured the significance of that saying.  While the holiday season is oftentimes marked as a special time of the year with celebrations, family gatherings and the exchanging of gifts, we know that it can also be a difficult time of the year for those who experience significant financial constraints. The third annual Holiday Pop-Up Shop at the Arlington Career Center offers a special opportunity for school officials, community partners and the staff at Communities in Schools [...]

2020-03-08T14:14:29+00:00January 15th, 2019|0 Comments


We hear it often because the research is clear: parental involvement correlates to higher student achievement and school improvement. For the past six weeks, I had the honor to work alongside Career Center staff, as we actively engaged Latino parents in the education of their child through FACE’s program “Participa…en Mi Educación” or “Participate in My Education.” “Participa” equips parents with the tools necessary to not only navigate the U.S educational system, but to effectively participate in and navigate that system with more ease and confidence. While “Participa” has been utilized throughout Arlington Public Schools for many years, this year was different. [...]

2020-03-08T14:15:34+00:00December 9th, 2018|0 Comments

Communities, In Schools

As a proud member of Communities In Schools of NOVA for the past five years I’ve watched our researched backed model of Integrated Students Supports improve outcomes for schools, students, and families.  What does this mean, and why is Communities In Schools one of the leading educational nonprofits in the country? Well… CIS does not use a one-size fits all approach in our work.  We conduct annual needs assessments of our COMMUNITIES to identify resources and opportunities to support our schools and students CIS places full-time staff members (Site Coordinators) to work with students directly IN SCHOOLS!  We are a unique youth-serving [...]

2020-03-08T14:16:03+00:00December 6th, 2018|0 Comments

Stand Up

Which do you prefer? Summer or winter? It’s not a very difficult question, most people could easily think of the answer and a few reasons why without much effort. You’ve probably had this exact discussion with someone and know what points they’d bring up to defend their side. Now try to imagine making that same argument in a language you hardly speak. Try it with someone who has never experienced one of those seasons. When you don’t have the language skills and there is such a large cultural divide, even something as simple as picking your favorite season becomes difficult. STARS is [...]

2020-03-08T14:16:20+00:00December 6th, 2018|0 Comments

“The beginning is the most important part of the work”

For newly immigrated students, the beginning of their experience in Arlington Public Schools can be the difference between graduation and dropping out. For the past decade, these students–facing challenges of language, culture and resources–have been the most at-risk of dropping out of school. Recognizing this crucial need in our school communities, Communities In Schools of NOVA is working to bridge these gaps to provide students with a solid foundation in our community. Through orientation programs such as STARS at Wakefield, and Monday Connect at Arlington Community, students are given the opportunity to begin their education in Arlington on the right foot. World [...]

2020-03-08T14:16:44+00:00December 2nd, 2018|0 Comments

Hammond Admirals are cookin’ up something delicious!

This past Monday marked the beginning of our fourth year of Teen Cuisine with our partners at INOVA Health and our very first alumni Lunch Bunch! Teen Cuisine is an after school program that gives students the opportunity to learn about healthy and nutritious eating and try recipes that they can make at home. Every year it is one of our most popular programs, and it’s always a surprise to hear kids raving about kale chips! This year we’ve expanded the program to continue to work with students who participated the previous year by offering a bi-monthly lunch group where students can [...]

2020-03-08T14:16:58+00:00October 27th, 2018|0 Comments

Seeing is Believing!

It’s easy to go into a community and talk about the success of our CIS model. It’s easy, because before I do that, I get to see firsthand how effective that model is at each of our CIS NOVA schools. Every fall, slightly after the back-to-school dust settles, I visit our Site Coordinators to learn about the great programs they have planned for the school year. The first thing I observe when I visit, is that Site Coordinators are busy. It’s no surprise that 5,745 students were connected to CIS resources and supports last year, or that 98% of our students were [...]

2020-03-08T14:17:21+00:00October 24th, 2018|0 Comments

A Migrant Family Thrives Within a School Community

It’s not an easy thing migrating to a new country. Having to adapt to a new environment; navigating your way through language barriers, learning new norms and wanting to feel included all at the same time is challenging.  And of course thriving is a whole other story.  Sahar and her family escaped conflict in Syria as asylum seekers, in search of a better life in America.  We met the family in 2016 when two of Sahar’s children attended Gunston Middle School. Our CIS coordinator at Gunston, Rula, worked with Karim (a 6th grader at the time), Sahar’s youngest son to ensure he felt a [...]

2020-03-08T14:17:38+00:00October 24th, 2018|0 Comments
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