Eighth-Grader Recognized for Her Accomplishments by CIS Student Supports Manager
By Katie Rankin, Communications Specialist, Communities In Schools of Chicago
Transferring to a new school wasn’t an easy change for Sophia, an eighth grader on the Far South Side. She had left behind friends at her previous school, and she had to adjust to a different school community with new classmates and new teachers.
Sophia’s mom recognized that she and her siblings (also transfer students at the school) could benefit from some extra support and guidance. Sophia was connected with Mrs. Chavara Turner, a Student Supports Manager from Communities In Schools of Chicago, and they began meeting regularly.
Mrs. Turner provided Sophia with a space where she could discuss some of the difficulties she was experiencing from the transfer. She also provided her with a space to learn more about herself — and lean into her strengths. Mrs. Turner took the time to get to know Sophia outside of her challenges, and she discovered Sophia’s talent and love of art.
Mrs. Turner started incorporating art therapy into her work with Sophia and showed her how she could use art to identify and manage her emotions. Mrs. Turner also used art as a way to keep her on track with her academic, social, and behavioral goals. Sophia discussed with Mrs. Turner her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and creating her own clothing line. With Mrs. Turner’s help, Sophia even finalized her business’ logo.
Mrs. Turner helped Sophia envision her life after elementary school. Sophia’s art focuses on Japanese anime, so Mrs. Turner encouraged her to explore opportunities to learn the Japanese language or even consider studying abroad when she got older. Now, Sophia is developing goals for high school and beyond. She will graduate from her South Side school this spring, already equipped with the tools she needs to make a successful transition to high school.
This spring, Mrs. Turner recognized Sophia’s success school wide. She highlighted her on a bulletin board she created, entitled “Girl of the Month.”
In February, Mrs. Turner’s bulletin board celebrated Black History Month by spotlighting a number of African American students, teachers, and school staff. Her bulletin board display was so well-received by the school that Mrs. Turner continued her spotlights throughout Women’s History Month.
To culminate the display, Mrs. Turner highlighted Sophia, a student who has made huge progress this year, with the help of caring adults in her school building like Mrs. Turner. Mrs. Turner told Sophia that she wanted to take her picture for the bulletin board, and initially, Sophia was hesitant about being spotlighted. She had never smiled for a photo before.
Mrs. Turner told her that she’d take a few different photos of her, some smiling and some not, and would let her choose which one she wanted displayed. Sophia chose the smiling photo. When Mrs. Turner finalized the bulletin board and let Sophia see it, Sophia smiled from ear to ear. Mrs. Turner is proud of Sophia for opening up and taking a chance — and for letting her personality shine in her new school setting.
Sophia is finishing out her eighth-grade year more confident, more open to new possibilities, and more willing to lean into her support system.
Student names have been changed to protect their privacy.