Checkmate on Life Lessons

Chess board with two hands touching a game piece.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Supreme El-Bey, at Kilo Middle School, had the opportunity to connect with students by playing chess. Supreme utilized this opportunity to use chess as a metaphor for navigating life. He noted that many of the students he interacts with are experiencing difficulty managing their emotions. So, he utilized the game to illustrate to young people how patience, knowledge and strategy can be beneficial for traversing life successfully and reaching their goals.

Small Gestures

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Amber Rowe Mosley, at Thomas Jefferson High School received this note of thanks from a mom whose family she has been working closely with all school year. These small notes of appreciation mean the world to our Communities In Schools staff and give you just a small glimpse of the important work we do to support families and students in our communities.

Picture of the note that reads: Amber, there are NO words, to express how grateful I am to have met you, the things you have done to make sure my kids are safe and full and help me move. A thank you just isn't enough. you have put so much time and effort into everything. Working with my schedule and helping even after we have moved. it's hard, doing this by myself and you've helped me to not pity myself and be more productive and proactive. To think more outside the box. I'll let the landlord know. Thank you SO much.

Flying High

Students holding up aircraft model made from paper and other materials.
Students sitting around a table.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Robert Daniel, at Lakota Middle School, created the Aviation Exploration after school program to give students the opportunity to learn about aviation science and leadership in fun and interesting ways. Recently, members have been working on manipulating the 4 forces of flight and building simple airplanes. They have even been working on creating and delivering shark tank style proposals for their program budget and for an Aviation Expo fundraiser.

Spontaneous Gallery

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Pat Perkins, at Illahee Middle School, is helping to give young artists a spotlight to shine. It all began when one brave young lady asked if they could display their art in the CIS room. In reply Pat said, “Of Course!” Following this the young lady inquired if their friends could display also. Now, over 20 students have brought in artwork to be displayed. The gallery was announced to staff and students and a student designed guest book was made available for signing.

Student artwork hanging on wall with gray background.
Student artwork hanging on wall with gray background.


Students sitting on the floor in a circle.
Students sitting on the floor in a circle.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Alexis Jordan, at Totem Middle School, mediated a debate between a large group of students on the topic of colorism. It was recounted that several students on both sides of the argument felt offended and had their feelings hurt at one point or another, but by the end of the conversation, all of the students felt that their voices were heard and their beliefs were respected. Throughout the debate students advocated for their beliefs in a respectful manner. Colorism exists and it was an important step that students were able to recognize it and the way it influences their perceptions of others. Alexis was very happy that students were comfortable enough to engage with such a challenging topic and that they trusted her enough to guide them through it.

Tis the Season

guitar and music book.

The holiday spirit is in the air at TAF@Saghalie in the form of a thoughtful Secret Santa. After learning of a student who very much wanted to learn guitar but didn’t have an instrument, one extraordinary teacher stepped forward to make this holiday extra special. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Kimberly Foster, collected a guitar and learning book from the teacher to gift him. This holiday his family will be able to pick up the guitar and he can start practicing during the winter break. Kimberly felt it was such a thoughtful gift and expression of kindness. She was very happy to help coordinate the gift giving.

This year, Sequoyah Middle School had a staff Giving Tree where staff members could donate gifts to families for the holidays. Our School Outreach Coordinator Alicia Vasey-Neilson and AmeriCorps Assistant School Outreach Coordinator Makenna Lester, helped to put this wonderful holiday support together and were able to help almost 30 students have a brighter holiday this year! In addition to the Giving Tree, they were involved in working on a holiday raffle for staff who donated to the Giving Tree for students and their siblings. Prizes for the raffle included four gift vouchers to Lumpia World, a restaurant and food truck owned by one of our own Sequoyah families. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who participated in the Giving Tree, Lumpia World and the Ellis family for their gracious donation to CIS! 

Decorated Christmas tree.
Open containers of take out food.

Continuing with the joyous season of giving our attention turns to our School Outreach Coordinator, Shana Ludwig, who had two holiday heroes really come through helping make the holidays just that much brighter at Decatur High School. One donor made a substantial purchase for her holiday care packages. Shana worked with Black Student Union and Leadership Students to prepare care packages for 12 families. Additionally, a friend of Shana’s who works in the custom shoe business came in to do a shoe cleaning but when Shana brought the pair of shoes out of the CIS clothing closet, he looked at them and realized they were in really bad shape. After seeing the disrepair of the shoes, he decided to gift a pair that he had already fixed.

Desk with stacks of snack boxes like cup of noodles, granola bars and fruit snacks.
White Adidas shoes with black stripes on the side.

School Outreach Coordinator, Amanda Martinson, posing for picture with student.

This month has been all about the holidays at Federal Way High School! Our School Outreach Coordinator, Amanda Martinson, has been busy making sure that families have enough food for winter break and holiday gifts, along with planning for Federal Way Cares. In the midst of all of the holiday preparations, spirit week has swept through the school and helped build excitement for winter break and stir the holiday cheer with days like, Twin Day! One thing that truly set the tone and affected the holiday spirit, Amanda recounted, was when some students gave their reply when asked “What do you/your family want for Christmas”. One student said, “Food. Just food,” and another student said, “Lightbulbs, food for my cat, and food for us.” After hearing some of these responses, Amanda has been working hard to make sure these families are getting what they need to have a great holiday and winter break!

Holiday helpers to the rescue! After an unfortunate turn of events and loss of support brokering holiday help for their Holiday Drive, our School Outreach Coordinator Cameron Enoch, at Sacajawea Middle School, sent out a plea to staff and PTA by email. Astonishingly, By the time Cameron arrived at school the next morning, he was greeted by a table of food. The teachers and some parents put their heads together and were able to get food donated, in addition to purchasing many things with their own money. Food continued to be delivered throughout the day and because of the generous donations, they were able to have enough for over 30 families resulting in a surplus!

Multiple long tables filled up with food resources including stacks of cans potatoes onions and more.

Success Night

School Outreach Coordinator, Fatou Bah, standing with Susan Enfield, the Superintendent of Highline Public Schools.
Hallway with groups of people looking at information, food, and display tables.

Winter Success Night at Tyee High School was a huge success! Our School Outreach Coordinator Fatou Bah, exuberantly reported a huge donation turn out, everything from food and clothes to gift cards from a myriad of stores. At the event there were smiles everywhere as the families grabbed their resources and got the assignments for their students for the upcoming winter break. The superintendent of Highline Public Schools even stopped by Success Night. Fatou extends a very big thank you to fellow School Outreach Coordinators Amber, Marcela, and Ms. Pat, and everyone who donated to the success of this event.  


Student speaking in front of SOAR meeting.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Cierra Gamble, at Todd Beamer High School, had the opportunity to sit in and listen to the new SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism) students, during their first meeting with Dr. Watson. The students were excited but a little nervous about attending their first meeting. Cierra was happy to report they did an amazing job. Her students were able to share their stories and voices. It was inspirational to see all of the students in the room passionate about improving their school environment.


Group photo of students in front of blue backdrop.

Our School Outreach Coordinator Gina Forest, and Todd Beamer High School’s college & career specialist, took a group of roughly fourteen girls to the Amazon IGNITE STEAM field trip. IGNITE stands for Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution. On this trip the girls learned that there are very few women that hold a position in the work of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). These young ladies had a great time on the trip. They had a chance to connect with the panel of women as they shared their personal stories to the group. Thanks to this field trip experience a few of the young ladies have now expressed an interest in STEAM career fields. Way to go Amazon for hiring an amazing team of ladies for IGNITE!

Placement Success

Student in button up shirt sitting at office desk.

Our Experiential Learning Coordinator, Markese Walker-Brown, at Truman Campus, has had continued success securing internships for several students. They are all set to have four young women starting at Head Start. Three of these young women will be assisting teachers and one will be working in the kitchen serving snacks and lunch. Additionally, Markese has had success with another student securing an internship at Totem middle school working with the English Language Learners 7th grade program. He also assisted in securing an internship for another student at a small engine repair shop, in which the shop owner is willing to higher the student in the spring if all goes well. Keep up the great work!

Creative Outlets

Walgreens gift card.

Thanks to WE Charity and Walgreens, our School Outreach Coordinator, Alicia Vasey-Neilson, at Sequoyah Middle School, is gearing up to implement trauma-focused art groups next semester. They were awarded with $500 for supplies making the creation of these groups possible. Through a trauma informed work model, they will be working to promote resiliency among student participants by shifting the focus from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?”. The groups will specifically aim to help students recognize unhealthy coping skills and try to replace them with healthier options in the form of creativity and art.

Transformative Space

Hanging rack of sweaters and jackets.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Marcela Arreola, at Highline High School, has been working hard to transform her office space. The first stage of this process took the form of a mini closet, where they now have warm clothes for students, jackets, socks and shoes. Marcela has set up working with the Burien Police department to start a hygiene drive over the break. The next stage in her room transformation will be staging her small food pantry along with a small hygiene pantry. Marcela relates, “my hope is that my room becomes a one stop shop for families in need and a place I can invite newly enrolled students to visit as a part of their school tours.” A special thank you goes out to South Minster Presbyterian Church who donated $500 to Communities In Schools for food and clothes.

Relationship Building

Story Cubes Game. Set of nine dice with a variety of different pictures on each side like a key or magnet.

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Precious Yarborough, at Madrona Elementary, worked on building relationships with a game called “Story Cubes”. Story Cubes is an improv game where kids have to think quick on their feet and collaborate to tell a story using a random picture. Each child takes a turn rolling a die, and whatever picture is face-up on their die is the one they use to build on the previous person’s story. The kids played several rounds and the all left her office in good spirits. Precious remarked on how great it was to build relationships among different grade levels.

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