It’s hard enough for students to succeed in school even when they aren’t facing hardships. But an organization has stepped in to help out wherever and whenever some students need it.
Inside every public school building in Pittsburg is a representative with a group called Communities in Schools. It’s a not for profit organization that steps in to help kids that are at an increased risk of dropping out for a variety of reasons including economic hardship or difficult family situation.
“We’ve grown over the past five years from two sites in 2013 to now ten sites serving more than 5000 students making sure they stay in school, have the resources they need to be successful, making sure they graduate with a plan,” says Lashawn Taylor, Communities in Schools S.E.K. Director.
PSU graduate Lashawn Taylor is the Southeast Kansas director for the group and felt drawn to it because a mentor played a huge role in his life while growing up and is paying it forward.
“You know I was one of those kids that was at risk of failing, didn’t have a huge support system, Communities in Schools places a caring adult in the school and and and we’re they’re biggest cheerleader,” says Lashawn Taylor.
“We make sure that their basic needs are met and um we also want to make sure they aren’t struggling with academics or behavior or attendance so we track all those,” says Sasha Jefferson, Meadowlark Elementary Site Coordinator.
“We focus a lot on college and career readiness,” says Reannon McCoy.
Reannon McCoy is the high school site coordinator and among other things, keeps clothing and food for students that may not get enough at home.
“Helping them find their voice again is probably just the most rewarding part of the job,” says Reannon McCoy.
In addition to Pittsburg schools, the group also has on-site representatives at Chanute Elementary and High School, Parsons High School and beginning this year, Fort Scott High School.