When you meet Ajah, you find a self-assured, confident spokesperson for young moms. She connected to Communities In Schools in her Senior year and participated in the ELECT Teen Parent Initiative. When asked what message or guidance she would like to give back to her peers she quickly articulates, “A lot of people talk down to teen parents. Once you have a future plan a baby doesn’t stop you if you really want to do it.”
Ajah has availed herself of supports and activities offered by her CIS Site Coordinator. She was very motivated to graduate and stayed focused on that goal. She set her sights on attending college to study nursing. She is due to start classes in January 2017.
The CIS Site Coordinator at Ajah’s school speaks very highly of the progress she made in her Senior Year. She “finished strong” and the relationship with her son is to be admired. Ajah was a strong voice in the group and demonstrated the possibilities once she set goals with her CIS Site Coordinator.
Tymir learned he was expecting a son during his first year at the Communities In Schools Southwest Education Center. The excitement of becoming a Dad actually distracted him from school and his attendance started to decline. When he returned for his senior year he signed up for a parent-focused program, ELECT, and the MANSA Men’s Group offered by CIS at school. When asked why he chose to join and how Communities In Schools helps he said “they help you push to finish school, even when you think you can’t”.
MANSA provided Tymir with the opportunity to serve as a leader in the school and a chance to give back to peers and community. He participated in running the school store with members of the MANSA group. They went into the community and served lunches at the local men’s homeless shelter in addition to service projects around the school.
The Site Coordinator at Tymir’s school awarded him “The Family Man” Award at the Senior Awards Ceremony. When she was asked how she chose this category and recipient she explains “He received that award due to his hard work and dedication to his academics and also his family”. For Tymir, becoming a father was the catalyst for his educational transformation. His CIS Site Coordinator honored that and celebrated him for his dedication.
The Power of Parenting
Tymir and Ajah are parenting a 2 year old son and although his arrival could have been a roadblock, they knew the strength in their partnership and they pushed forward. Although they didn’t attend the same school, both schools had a CIS Site Coordinator who offered them support and recognition for achievements. One thing that was important to both students was being the best possible parents to their son. They both emphasized that achieving in school and following through with goals helped them feel like they were being good examples for him. Knowing this was a motivating factor, the Site Coordinators at each school made sure to offer Tymir and Ajah opportunities to attend family friendly field trips and events with CIS outside of school as incentives and recognition for promoting academic and attendance success. One thing was certain, Tymir and Ajah would always be in attendance with their son, often first to arrive at these special events. When asked about favorite experiences, Ajah quickly responded that Disney on Ice and Sesame Street Live stood out as really memorable because their son really connected with the characters. These trips were made possible through support from the School District of Philadelphia. It is clear these outings had an impact on the whole family and not just on Ajah and Tymir’s school success.
Tymir and Ajah walked across separate stages to receive their diplomas in June but they truly succeeded together. Their CIS Site Coordinators were there to celebrate them as they took their next steps as a family. When we ask each student what they hope to pass on to their son and their peers as a result of their experience Tymir says he hopes to be a good role model and show his son the importance of following through. Ajah emphasizes the power of a future plan and focusing on working towards that goal. CIS of Philadelphia believes in celebrating the strengths of each student through our One on One Relationships and often finding that key motivating factor for a student is at the heart of what we do. For both Ajah and Tymir, the power of parenting became a central focus that inspired school success.