More than 300 community members volunteer their time each year in service to Puyallup students.
They are the volunteers who work with Communities In Schools Puyallup (CIS of Puyallup), a non-profit organization, in partnership with the Puyallup School District (PSD) and the community to support students and families in our schools.
CIS of Puyallup works with more than 30 local businesses and organizations to develop resources to serve Puyallup students and meet a variety of needs. The support ranges from reading and math tutors, providing food and school supplies, after school programs, coordinating community service projects, and parent engagement events.
For example, CIS of Puyallup partners with the Mountain View Community Center to provide after school care and to supply food to those in need. Costco employees volunteer as tutors for the Costco Readers program, and Costco has donated more than 450 backpacks to students each year during the annual CIS Fill the Canoe School Supply Drive. A group of 107 community volunteers spend time reading with 167 individual students at schools each week in the Good Samaritan Readers Program. Fred Meyer has an annual food drive to support local families in the district and has helped donate thousands of dollars in food to support students. There are many more businesses and organizations who support Puyallup schools through CIS of Puyallup —including churches, Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Executive Director of CIS of Puyallup Jan Mauk said they focus on developing community relationships and connecting critical community resources to students and families. Many of the activities and programs are geared towards academics, however they provide non-academic support as well. They look for the reasons students are struggling and try to resolve them. “We focus a lot of our work in the elementary schools because the earlier you can get kids on track, the greater your chances of helping them be successful. Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Dropout prevention starts here,” she said.
“Surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life—this is the mission of Communities In Schools of Puyallup and we are carrying it out in the Puyallup School District.”
~ Jan Mauk, executive director CIS of Puyallup
There are CIS of Puyallup Site Coordinators assigned to various schools throughout the district. They work with a school site team which includes school staff members such as the principal, vice principal, counselor, and nurse to assess the specific needs and assets of the school. They create individual student plans for students that have been referred to them as needing support. In partnership with other community organizations and many dedicated volunteers CIS of Puyallup provides the students with the resources they need to stay in school and to be successful. These include academic and non-academic support such as tutoring or mentoring, physical and mental health care, basic needs like food and clothing, life skills, and college and career preparation.
The site coordinators look for ways to connect with individual students in an effort to identify the reasons why a student is struggling and remove those barriers. “In our Good Samaritan Readers Program we had one tutor who brought in the sports page and connected with a young boy because that’s what the student cared about. Sometimes it’s about connecting to what the students are interested in,” said Mauk. She said there are all kinds of reasons why a student may struggle in school and many are non-academic, such as coming to school hungry or attendance issues.
Mauk said CIS of Puyallup also focuses on working with families. In partnership with the district they offer evening literacy classes for first-grade parents. Dinner is provided and high school students are on site to provide child care. “By providing food and childcare we hope to make the evening accessible to all families, since sometimes it is hardest for those who need it the most to attend the event,” said Mauk.
During Thanksgiving, with food donations from over 13 organizations and additional individuals from the community including 45 baskets provided by the Puyallup Kiwanis, 147 families received Thanksgiving meals.
Students throughout the district have many opportunities to give back by volunteering their time through March Gladness and other programs.
March Gladness is a program coordinated by CIS of Puyallup that is designed to encourage students to make community service a part of their lives. The program encourages K-12 students to engage in local, hands-on community service. A student leadership team made up of junior and senior high students works with CIS of Puyallup and adult volunteer coordinators at the schools to coordinate projects in each of the district’s 32 schools.
March Gladness runs from January through March with community service projects taking place in schools and throughout the Puyallup community. Last year over 12,000 students participated in 66 projects. Projects planned for the 2017 include Pennies for Patients and Care for Critters at Ferrucci Junior High and Wall of Thanks and Camp Kesem Coin Drive at Karshner Elementary, just to name a few. Visit the March Gladness web page for more information.
“March Gladness is a wonderful program and since 2006 it has really helped to cultivate that culture of giving back and volunteering with our students. It makes our kids feel connected and appreciated within the community.”
~ Jan Mauk, executive director CIS of Puyallup
Secondary students have many opportunities to volunteer. They provide tutoring to younger students and volunteer at events throughout the district. The CIS of Puyallup programs provide opportunities for them to earn the school district’s varsity letter in community service.
Communities In Schools is a national organization with 161 affiliates in 25 states and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017. The Puyallup affiliate began in 2002 with a reading program, Good Samaritan Readers, at Stewart Elementary which served 22 students.
Mauk, who joined CIS of Puyallup in 2005, said she especially enjoys working with so many amazing people—volunteers, staff, donors, and supporters. “When you look at all the people I have the privilege to work with on a day to day basis who are so passionate about their work and live it out by giving back to our students, it is very humbling.” she said. Mauk was recently nominated by the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce for their John Portal Memorial Rising Star award for her work in the Puyallup community.