Tracy Lafon

Tracy Lafon, Community Program Manager, for ‘Communities in Schools of the Cape Fear’ described how this multi-state group works to meet the needs of kids in schools beyond the personal attention that their teachers can give. As Tracy said, ‘We are there to support the school, students, and families with additional resources that help the students stay in school and succeed.” For Pender County the program covers the four middle schools, two elementary, and Topsail High School with learning and emotional support where the poverty level is greater than other local high schools. Communities in Schools also covers Duplin and New Hanover County schools in southeastern NC.

During the worst days of COVID, CIS staff did what teachers couldn’t by making personal contact to be sure that students had the resources such as an Internet connection to get their in-home learning lessons and to make sure they could handle the technology involved in distance education.

Tracy described how CIS places personnel in schools to work one-on-one with students that need more attention to be successful with their school work assignments. Another point that Tracy made was that bringing their program to kindergarten students is important as kids learning skills develop earlier probably due to greater exposure to TV and the Internet given that their families can be totally immerse in on-line activities.

Communities in Schools feature a program called BabySteps for pregnant teens and young parents assisting them with their needs new needs as well as helping them continue their education in college or find life skills in the post-high school years. The organization also has a Teen Court program that gives experience to students on both sides of the Justice System. Additionally, there is the CIS Gives Back program to help facilitate community service and restitution piece after the students leave the Teen Court Program.