Holiday Cheer

Holiday is in the air with feelings of joy and a spirit of giving throughout the community. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Amanda Martinson at Lakota Middle School, has her list and has checked it twice. Amanda received wish lists from her Lakota families this winter and is working hard to fulfill as many wishes as possible. With her home being transformed into a version of Santa’s village with delivery and wrapping stations to prepare, Amanda is excited to bring Lakota families some holiday cheer!

Another of our School Outreach Coordinators, Shana Ludwig at Decatur High School, is overwhelmed with joy to see the amazing generosity of our community this winter season. Shana set out with a goal to provide holiday gift cards to 12 families in need. Donation after donation continued to come in on Shana’s holiday fundraising page and they more than achieved her goal. Thanks to her generous donors Shana was able to provide gift cards to 20 families! Gina Forest, another of our School Outreach Coordinators, was also excited to report success raising money to help support the students and families at Federal Way High School during the winter holiday season. Our School Outreach Coordinators raised $34,500 to provide gifts and food for 496 students (250 families) in the Federal Way and Highline school districts!  Thank you to all of our partners, Good Shepherd Youth Outreach, Brooklake Church, Christ the King Bible Fellowship, and donors including the amazing FWPS teachers and staff who supported this effort! 

Multicultural Club

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Kimberly Foster at TAF@ Saghalie, was excited to announce the Multicultural Club had an amazing kick off meeting in December. During their first meeting the students expressed missing their famous potlucks and time to connect with friends. The students had a great time reconnecting and even had a surprise visitor! Ms. Joaquin, recently retired former club advisor, stopped by to visit with the students at their first meeting of the year.

Kimberly, working in collaboration with Ms. Sera Castro, set up meetings with student leadership and mapped out a plan for how to run the club virtually. Students are all a buzz with anticipation, sharing updates on virtual learning and their excitement for the club for the rest of the school year. Stay tuned for more Multicultural updates!

Career Academy & Beyond

CIS is continuing to grow at Truman Campus. Markese Walker-Brown began his journey at Truman Campus in 2018 as our Experiential Learning Coordinator, focusing on our Internship Program for the Career Academy. The purpose of this program was to provide “real-world learning” to our scholars in the form of their interests and passions. At the peak of our program, we had 88% of our scholars involved in an opportunity. Continuing to grow at Truman Campus, now Markese proudly fulfills the role of School Outreach Coordinator following the full CIS national model. We have come a long way and to celebrate our students and growth at Truman Campus, here are some of Markese’s memorable program highlights along the way. Markese recalled having one very shy student break out of their shell to shine, securing an internship with Sea Mar Community Health Centers. He had a group of three female students committee to 100 volunteer hours through St Francis Hospital counting toward their internships.

Another group of four young women started internships with Head Start at the same time. Lastly, one student was accepted to the Puget Sound Skills Center in the Auto Body Technician program, and was presented with a very unique opportunity after visiting RWC trucking company in Tukwila. Since the company did not offer internship opportunities and they were highly interested in partnership they worked out a job opportunity. At only 16 years old, this student is the youngest person hired in the company, which has locations across the country. Markese is proud of our scholars for their hard work and resilience and can’t wait to see how Truman Campus continues to grow.

Talent Show

Madrona Elementary School has talent. Each Friday the 4th graders put on a talent show. Our School Outreach Coordinator Precious Yarborough, has one student, Diana, who is really letting her creativity shine. Diana joined in the talent show proudly displaying her artwork. She showcased three original pieces of art, Garfield, a dragon, and the Grinch. All of Diana’s artwork is freehand and showcases her own personal style. Precious arranged for a special holiday surprise for Diana, sending her a mini canvas and acrylic paint set. “Her Grinch drawing was very fitting for the holiday season and I can’t wait to see how she uses the new art supplies”, said Precious.

Making Miracles

The holiday season is truly a special time of year where we come together and lift eachother up. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Pat Perkins at Illahee Middle School, shared a story that embodies the season of giving and showcases how generous and amazing our community is. Pat reached out to the community seeking support to help an Illahee family of eight with six children who were struggling with homelessness. The community responded with overwhelming support. Pat was able to provide assistance with their financial need to get an apartment. Additionally, a community member stepped up and purchased beds and bedding for the entire family.

The Illahee teaching staff contributed with a table, chairs, linens and bags of clothing including coats. Our community partner Brooklake Church provided gift cards to the family. A very special thank you to everyone who came together to make this family’s Holiday miracle come true!

Determination to Succeed

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Fatou Bah at Tyee High School, has been working with Esther Bunganga grade 10 since her first day of school in America. Esther speaks French and Lingala. In spite of her challenges with a language barrier, home life, and distance learning, Esther is determined to succeed. Most recently Fatou has been meeting with Ester to work on her history class. They have been meeting 2 hours each day after school for the past two weeks. Fatou is continually surprised by Esthers perseverance explaining that Esther has been taking care of her 5 month old sister while they work on her history. “I am forever impressed by Esther’s dedication to her education despite the many barriers that she faces,” Fatou says.


This month we had two of our schools’ SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism) groups really step up and make their voices heard. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Cierra Gamble at Todd Beamer High School, told us her SOAR scholars created and shared their own racial autobiography. The students did so well creating their racial autobiographies that the school requested the SOAR group create a lesson that will be shared with the whole school. “They’re a small group that has amazing potential to make a positive impact,” Cierra says.

Another of our School Outreach Coordinators, Amber Rowe Mosley at Thomas Jefferson High School, also shared about her SOAR group who really went the extra mile to make their voices heard. The TJHS SOAR group, joined by the Unified People Scholar Yasmin Mustefa delivered a presentation at a recent TJHS staff meeting. The two groups have combined forces, along with others at the school to ask the district to take another look at changing the current school name. They are asking the name to be changed to Truth and Justice High School to keep old legacy alive while also finding a name that represents the true multiculturalism that is today’s TJHS.

Scholar Voice Collaborative

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Makenna Lester at Kilo Middle School, wants to celebrate one of her Scholar Voice Collaborative (SVC) students. This month, Kilo’s SVC participated in a “Dream School” contest. Students had the opportunity to create their ideal school setting through a creative project such as a song, poem, video, artwork, or essay. Emily, a Kilo 8th grader, created this poem (pictured below) to describe how she would envision her perfect school.

Another of our School Outreach Coordinators, Alexis Jordan at Totem Middle School, shared about how her SVC group is focusing this month on students feeling welcome at Totem. SVC students brainstormed ideas together and came up with suggestions. Several students came up with the idea that teachers can add BLM posters onto their canvas page. They also thought it would be good to add BLM and PRIDE posters on their virtual backgrounds in zoom, so students know they’re welcomed by their teachers.

Lunch Bunch

Our School Outreach Coordinator, Alicia Casey-Neilson at Sequoyah Middle School, has been collaborating with Sequoyah counselors to host lunch bunches. The students have the option twice a week to join a lunch bunch group. There are two types of lunch bunch groups, one group is focused on social aspects of reconnecting amidst the pandemic and the other group is focused on career paths. In the social group students can gather together during their lunch time to hang out and play games. The career focused group has speakers for the students to listen and learn about potential future career paths. Way to connect!

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