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From Surviving to Thriving: CIS Prepares Partners for an Impactful School Year

“Last year we thought was going to be a year of recovery, and it really felt more like discovery,” said CIS of Chicago’s Senior Director of Partnerships Robin Koelsch in a recent interview with CBS Chicago. “Our theme this year is to go from surviving to thriving.”

Robin’s sentiment is one shared by CIS of Chicago school partners and community partners alike. Chicago Public Schools returned to in-person learning last year and encountered unique challenges. Many students experienced significant learning loss during the pandemic and needed extra supports academically, socially, and emotionally.

Teachers felt these challenges acutely. According to a National Education Association survey, more than half of teachers said they were thinking of leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.

Community organizations, in response, supported students and teachers with programs that met these needs, but for many organizations, as Robin said, it was a year of discovery. New methods of program delivery, new ways to engage with students, and new school needs transformed community programs and resources.

CIS of Chicago is preparing its community partners for the 2022-23 year by equipping them with the resources to go from surviving to thriving.

In August, CIS’ Partnership Team hosted Summer Institute for community partners. The day of learning and collaboration provided organizations with critical professional development opportunities so they can execute impactful programs this school year.

Summer Institute sessions recognized the challenges that community partners – and the schools they serve – have faced over the last few years. Sessions also reflected what Chicago students need this year to learn and what teachers need to feel supported. One attendee said, “I feel inspired by the workshops and speakers. I also really value the connections I made today.”

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Sessions included tools for:

  • Integrating arts-based techniques to increase student engagement
  • Building positive relationships with students through a trauma-informed lens
  • Fostering relationships with parents to reinforce programming
  • Using multiple learning styles in lessons
  • Incorporating creative solutions for classroom management
  • Supporting college and career awareness in program offerings
  • Fostering student imagination and creativity and
  • Addressing students’ physical and mental wellbeing

Summer Institute, an event now ten years running, amplifies CIS of Chicago’s mission of surrounding young people with a community of support. CIS of Chicago community partners play a critical role in student learning. Investing in their professional development is key to their success in the classroom, and in turn, the overall success of Chicago students in school and in life.

In the 2022-23 school year, CIS of Chicago will support 70,000 students at 200 Chicago Public Schools by linking them with more than 1,300 community partner programs and resources. Programs will address everything from arts, academic enrichment, and college/career readiness to behavioral, physical, and mental health.

“Our team at CIS understands that supporting our students this year is not only the responsibility of our teachers and schools. The programs, resources, and services provided by community organizations are critical to helping students stay on track to graduation,” said Karen Roddie, CIS’ Associate Director of Community Partnerships. “Together with our partners, CIS of Chicago will serve tens of thousands of students this school year and address their holistic needs.”

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