Alexander County Board Member of the Year

Alexander County Board Member of the Year 2015

Pictured from the left are: Jordyn Mundy, Site Coordinator at WAMS; Glendora Yarbrough, Executive Director; Chad Pennell, Alexander County Board Member of the Year; Brittany Loudermilt, Site Coordinator at EAMS; Angie Yates, Program Director; Dawn Clawson, Board Chair.

At our regular CIS Advisory Board meeting today in Alexander County, Chad Pennell was recognized as the Alexander County Board Member of the Year. He was given the award by Executive Director, Glendora Yarbrough, Chad has been an Advisory Board member since 2012 and has a true heart for CIS. He works tirelessly to secure opportunities for CIS to be in the spotlight in the community. This year Chad has also accepted the role of Vice Chair for the Advisory Board. Thank you, Chad, for a job well done!

Liberty Methodist Breakfast



Reading Partners Kristy Burnette 12-6-15

Reading Partner, Kristy Burnette, works with 3rd grade students to help increase their reading level.

Liberty Methodist is having a breakfast fundraiser this Saturday from 6:0010:00 am.  All proceeds will go to our Alexander County Reading Partners Program which helps 2nd and 3rd grade students at three elementary schools in Alexander County increase their reading level.

Please come and support this wonderful and much needed cause. There will also be story telling as well as pictures with Santa Claus for the kids. Community In Schools will also be raffling a chair donated by the kind folks at Craftmaster. 

Thanks in advance for your support!  Please contact April Oxentine for any questions or more details by phone at (828) 244-5645 or by email at

We need your help to read!

Communities in Schools (CIS) in partnership with the Alexander County United Methodist Missional Network are excited to be working with and growing the Reading Partners Program in Alexander County. We are currently active at Taylorsville Elementary, Hiddenite Elementary and Stony Point Elementary schools. Reading Partners is a program in which volunteers from the community work with 2nd and 3rd grade students to help them learn invaluable reading skills.  The Reading Partners Program is in need of reliable volunteers at all three elementary schools.

CIS pics 047

On Wednesdays Hiddenite Elementary meets from 12:05-12:35 pm and Taylorsville Elementary meets from 2-2:30 pm. Stony Point Elementary meets on Thursdays from 2-2:30 pm. All volunteers commit to spending 30 minutes each week tutoring a 2nd or 3rd grade student. In only 30 minutes a week, you can give a child the chance to significantly increase their reading levels and create an irreplaceable bonding experience for both the students and volunteers.
The Reading Partners Program supplies an easy guide to assist the volunteers in the tutoring process. To ensure the safety of the students, CIS completes a background check on all prospective volunteers. Volunteers will attend a short orientation before their volunteer work begins.  If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering for the Reading Partners Program, please contact April Oxentine by phone at (828) 244-5645 or by e-mail at

Students Serve at Corner Table

LaTonya Hairston helped to organize a field trip to The Corner Table in Newton where the students (and staff!) had the opportunity to give back. LaTonya is the Site Coordinator assigned to the  Alternative Learning Program (ALP) in Alexander County.

ALP students and staff member

Students and staff getting the food ready to serve.

Students and staff preparing food for The Corner Table.

Students and staff wrapping silverware.


The Corner Table was pleased to have the help from the ALP students and gave them all credit for the hard work that was done. They said this was one of the best school groups they had ever had volunteer their time at the organization. The staff was also impressed with the students willingness to help. One teacher remarked, “It is a blessing to see the best of the students shine through.” Many times all it takes is for students to be given the chance to help.

CIS Welcomes New Volunteer Coordinator

With the New Year upon us, resolutions are at the forefront of many a mind!  Marketers are ready on the draw, and commercials abound for gym memberships, diet plans, smoking secession programs and the like – all for those resolved to become a healthier version of themselves in 2015.

Though these commercials may make it seem otherwise, all New Year’s goals are not necessarily fitness related.  Recent surveys have revealed a large number of individuals geared up to increase their education levels in the coming year. To the philanthropic end of goal-setting, a surprising number of people desire to give back to their community by volunteering more!

Communities In Schools is a great avenue to meet a goal such as this.   Recently, we welcomed a new Volunteer Coordinator for our Reading Partners program at Hiddenite and Taylorsville Elementary Schools.


April Oxentine joined us November 17th through NC Literacy Corps, and through her work with Reading Partners will be providing small group and one-on-one tutoring to 3rd graders at both sites. This tutoring, however, is not possible without volunteers.

Currently, we have 5 volunteers at Taylorsville (TES) and 8 volunteers at Hiddenite (HES). Both sites are always looking for more willing individuals to come read with these young learners. HES volunteers meet Mondays from 1:30-2:00 pm, and TES volunteers help on Wednesdays from 2:00-2:30 pm.

If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering, please contact April Oxentine at 336-452-4367 for more information, or by email at

CIS Advisory Board Hard at Work

The Communities In Schools Advisory Board met on Monday, November 3, 2014, discussing current and upcoming services for learners in Alexander County.  Each of the three site coordinators for Alexander were in attendance, and gave special mention to the growth of case-managed students currently being served.

[From Left to Right: (front) Brigette Rhyne, Macy Jones, Angie Yates, Jordyn Setzer, (back) Dr. Jennifer Hefner, Brittany Loudermilt, Kevin Mann, Chad Pennell, and Dr. Jeff Peal]

Currently, our Advisory Board meets once every three months, and is an offset of the CIS Wilkes Board Meeting that focuses only on the implementation of the CIS Model in Alexander County. During November’s meeting, staff and board members brainstormed ways to recruit additional representatives to serve, who to recruit, and the implementation of terms and policies.

As Communities In Schools is a nonprofit organization, special time and discussion was dedicated to additional sources of revenue.  Advisory members are always on the lookout for new or continued sources of funding, keeping CIS informed for appropriate.

If you or someone you know would be interested in donating monetarily or in kind to Communities In Schools, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231, or Glendora Yarbrough at 336-651-7830 today!

Rocking Red Ribbon Week

Along with our site coordinator Brittany Loudermilt, students at East Alexander Middle School participated again this year in the annual awareness campaign, Red Ribbon Week.  Held the last week in October, Red Ribbon Week is designed to educate participants, as well as the general public, on the violent and harmful nature of both drug use and the drug industry.

From Monday, October 27th, until Friday, October 31st, students at EAMS worked to promote awareness while learning new information themselves.  Learners worked to design public service posters, with a completed poster enabling a chance to win a gift card to Walmart!

In total, ten posters were submitted that truly conveyed convincing messages about staying drug free.  Our young artists implored that their peers chose to make a stand against drug use and continue to strive for greatness.

Communities In Schools also offered enrichment activities during the week.  Learners had enjoyed some friendly competition amongst the comradery: They were challenged to guess how many candies were in a jar, with the closest guesser receiving a Walmart gift card as well!

Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

If you are familiar with Communities In Schools, you may know that we believe all students are entitled to each of our Five Basics.  Specifically, we continually strive to ensure every learner we serve has access to:

1. A healthy start and healthy future
2. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult
3. A marketable skill to use upon graduation
4. A chance to give back to their community, and
5. A safe place to learn and grow.

One of the basics we feel too often overlooked happens to be a safe learning environment.  As years progress, our youth are gaining increasing access to information, paraphernalia, and negative role models that threaten the safety of themselves and others.  Incidents of violence and drug use continue to increase, and – more disturbingly – become problems at younger and younger ages.

Today’s students face a world of challenges unfamiliar to generations prior.  In association with high risk behaviors, incidents of bullying continue to skyrocket, and the advent of social media has brought this troubling behavior out of the school and in to the homes of both victims and predators.  Many victims of bullying report missing school in order to avoid confrontation.

East Alexander Middle School (EAMS) has taken action to eradicate these behaviors.  On Friday, October 31, 2014, all members of the student body participated in a Bullying Survey.  Results of the survey were delivered directly to the principal.

Through this questionnaire, EAMS hopes to identify areas of need around the school campus: locations that need more reinforcement or supervision, appropriate preventative measures, and positive behavior award measures to foster kindness and discourage bullying.  Action will take place, and the survey will be repeated at the end of the year to document changes we are sure to be seeing.

If you would like to know more about Communities In Schools in Alexander County, or would be interested in donating your time, talents, or treasures to our great efforts, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231.

Out and About at the Apple Festival

As Communities In Schools (CIS) continues to expand and develop our presence in Alexander, we thrive on opportunities to interact with and get to know our community. We enjoyed one such occasion on October 18, 2014 – with our second year manning a booth at the Taylorsville Apple Festival.

The Apple Festival and events like it offer our staff and volunteers excellent opportunities to promote current Communities In Schools programing and services. Programs include Reading Partners, wherein carefully screened and trained tutors are matched with third graders to practice reading and comprehension skills.   For older area learners, we also offer Community of Friends Mentoring: which matches screened and trained mentors with students in sixth through eighth grade.  These mentoring pairs spend two to four hours each week together outside of school.

Public turnout was incredible during the festival this year, giving CIS a great chance to recruit willing and able volunteers for the above programs.  In total, 420 booths participated in the Apple Festival this year, with exponentially more community members stopping by to learn about out cause.  Those who stopped by had the chance to contribute monetarily this time as well:  our local Craftmaster donated a luxurious leather recliner to be sold via raffle.  Tickets sold for $1.00 a piece, or seven for $5.00.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the volunteers and staff who helped work the booth and make the day a huge success: Janeen Jones, Macy Jones, Susan Gantt, Mary Brown, Jason Evans, and the Alexander County CIS Team of Brittany Loudermilt, Jordyn Setzer and Angie Yates, all led by CIS Executive Director Glendora Yarbrough.

As always, we are in continual need for mentors and tutors as our offerings and waiting lists continue to grow.  If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering, please contact Angie Yates at 828-409-0231.

Cougar Seminar at Alexander Central High

The 2014 school year is bringing many exciting changes when it comes to Communities In Schools’ work in Alexander County.  One of our new programs comes in the form of Cougar Seminar, which is offered to students in 9th through 12th grade at Alexander Central High.

Cougar Seminar is an advisory program that began on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.  Between September 3 and October 29th, students will meet in small groups with an assigned advisor (trained school faculty member) each Wednesday for 25 minutes. For the remainder of the school year, these meetings will take place every other week.  Students will remain with the same advisor until graduation.

Seminar Advisors serve not only as instructors, but as caring adults in the lives of our students: there to be a confidant and support through triumphs and trials. They also are a liaison to the students’ families: Advisors are required to make four parent/guardian contacts for each participant throughout the year.

While making invaluable connections with their Advisors and peers, participants also work through character- and resilience-building activities as a group.  Topics covered so far this year have included study skills, dating violence, cyber-bullying, digital footprints, internet safety, and more. ‘

Reception of the program has been both amazing and encouraging.  Youth report that Seminar has become their favorite class, noting that “The pressure is off and you can get to the meat of things.” Moreover, life-changing relationships continue to grow and blossom: learners have already felt comfortable approaching their advisors with difficult issues. In one instance, a student was able to open up about their advisor about another youth’s struggle with self harm. The teacher was able to intervene accordingly and help put an end to the destructive behavior.

If you or someone you know would like to know more about Cougar Seminar, please contact Angie Yates today!