When CIS of Philadelphia Site Coordinator, Ms. Gina, met Emmanuel last October he had already left two other high schools. He had some disciplinary conflicts on his school record and issues with high risk behaviors outside of school threatened to derail his education. He decided to give school one more shot, hoping the small school and accelerated environment at Camelot Excel Academy would be a better fit. School personnel quickly referred Emmanuel to the Communities In Schools Site Coordinator once he shared his previous challenges and explained that he is a young parent working towards a goal of graduating high school.
Emmanuel wasn’t really sure about connecting to Communities In Schools at first. He felt like no one was really there to help him at his previous schools. He says this contributed to his lack of attendance and engagement which resulted in being dropped from school roll. He says that after meeting with Ms. Gina who approached him with “open arms” and hearing about the extra supports she could offer to him for being a better Dad he decided to sign on for the support.
Ms. Gina’s eyes light up when she talks about the progress Emmanuel has made at this new school and his increased commitment to his education. She emphasizes his desire to prove to himself and to his teachers that he can master the material and achieve success. She is most impressed by his drive to set goals, not just long term goals, but specific daily and weekly goals designed to push him that one step further in self improvement. When asked for an example he said “I’ve been getting to school at 7:40 lately so next I am working on getting here by 7:30 AM”.
Emmanuel explained that he was always into getting his school work done but acknowledged that he wasn’t focused on really learning the material; just wanted to spit out the answers to finish the tasks. His resistance to learning the content showed on his report cards. He also really struggled with making good decisions, getting himself to school and being mentally prepared to cope with his school day. When asked how he and Ms. Gina worked on those issues he is quick to point out that if he doesn’t get to school by 8 AM he knows Ms. Gina will be heading out to a home visit to check on him. When he feels anxious or loses patience and composure in a class setting the school will allow him to decompress in Ms. Gina’s room and work independently for a period of time. Ms. Gina keeps a photo of London, Emmanuel’s daughter, on the wall near her desk for him to look at, a strategy they agreed on when he is “slipping”, to help him remember the example he wants to set for her. Emmanuel says Ms. Gina always knows when he has made a mistake or a bad choice, something she says she can read by his facial expressions right away. That’s when they put their plan to work, regroup, and focus on his goals.
London will be at graduation on June 14 to cheer for her Dad, Emmanuel, when he receives his high school diploma this year. Ms. Gina will be there to support him as he takes his next steps towards Community College of Philadelphia. He will leave a legacy at the school with the other young fathers Ms. Gina asked him to mentor as they connected with Communities In Schools. Emmanuel, a proud Class of 2016 graduate, will continue on his path to success, setting one goal at a time.