Keynote Speaker Ron Guerrier Moves to Express Scripts

Ron Guerrier

Ron Guerrier

Ron Guerrier, keynote speaker at CISDR’s Connected Community Luncheon on May 31, 2018, is moving on his career: As The Wall Street Journal reports:

Express Scripts Holding Co. announced this week that Ron Guerrier will be the company’s new chief information officer in an executive transition that comes amid the company’s sale to health insurer Cigna Corp.

Mr. Guerrier, formerly executive vice president and CIO at Farmers Insurance Group, will begin his new role on April 16. He has more than 20 years of experience as a corporate IT manager, having also held the role of CIO at Toyota Financial Services Corp.

Tickets and sponsorships for the May 31 luncheon are still available. Also joining us to speak on the impact of the tech industry are City of Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and Richardson ISD Assistant Superintendent over Technology Sandra Hayes. Click here to learn more, or contact us at

Using the Power of Community to Change Kids’ Lives

When students are faced with insurmountable barriers – lack of access to adequate healthcare, the death of a parent, trouble at home– that might keep them from actualizing their dreams, Communities In Schools is there. But we cannot do this work alone. We need you.


Right now, in the U.S. there are 14.5 million children living in poverty. The collateral effects of being in the margins of society follow these young people as they go to school each day.  That’s why Communities In Schools works inside k-12 schools to help underserved students reach their potential by offering access to resources.

Our work spans 25 states and the District of Columbia. We’ve helped more than 1.5 million kids stay in school to focus on their education, and there’s so much more work to be done. By chipping in $5 today you are advancing the Communities In Schools mission of ensuring all kids have the opportunity to succeed in life.

Monica Ordonez (CISDR VP), Jared Hughes (HGMS site coordinator), Eritrea (CISDR Alum & HGMS staff), and Daniel Horsch (new CISDR board member)

I would say the best adjective to use for my personality as a child was spunky.

At school, I was a whirlwind of energy, mess of curls, and unstoppable talking force. I was also 11 and along with the usual struggles of becoming a young lady, I was attempting to deal with type one diabetes and an unstable home environment. I started middle school at Lorenzo De Zavala in 2004. My elementary education was a mix of private schooling, public schooling, and some of my education being attained in Mexico a few years prior. At home I was the only girl in a family of 3 younger boys and my parents. My mom was from a small town in Mexico called Rio Verde. She’d gone to college and had a degree in chemical engineering. My father had been in the child militia of East Africa, the Horn of Africa, and had escaped to seek refuge in the US at age 17. For as opposite as their cultures were, they shared a few similarities. Both of my parents had no one in this country and they both didn’t speak the language when they arrived. I was raised to believe that life was hard for everyone and that although you didn’t decide the location of your birth, you could make the best of your situation regardless. My parents were loving but honest to a fault. They had no patience or tolerance for crying, misbehavior or disrespect. It wasn’t tolerated and was addressed swiftly. Money was always tight around my house. Dad worked about 16 hours a day and Mom stayed home with me and the boys to take care of us and the house, but mostly to keep up with my appointments and my own health problems. They tried their best, but both of them were from other countries with no idea as to how the American system worked and with too much pride to ever ask for help, so usually we just went without. My parents worked really hard to provide my brothers and I with school, shelter, food, water, and clothing. They loved us fiercely and raised us as best they could.  Coming into middle school, in a small suburban town where all the kids knew each other since pre-school, was intimidating and at times felt impossible. It was difficult to make friends. I wasn’t extraordinarily athletic. I was smart but I wasn’t a genius. I couldn’t identify with one specific race so some groups wouldn’t let me in their clique while others would. I felt lost. I tried my best to just be myself but being yourself at 11, when you don’t know who you are yet, is really hard.

Throughout middle school, I spent a lot of my time in the central office with the nurse. Being a type one insulin dependent diabetic was a struggle for me. My hormones always seemed to be out of whack which in turn resulted in my body going through a rollercoaster of death until I ultimately (almost always) ended up in the hospital. After a while, most of the staff at my school realized that accommodations needed to be made in order for me to succeed in school. The school nurse at the time, Ms. Beauchamp, introduced me to Ms. Kendria Taylor, the CIS Site Coordinator. Ms. Taylor was young, a graduate from UNT, and she was spunky too! She always smelled good and her jangly James Avery bracelet with all her charms for her accomplishments was something I admired. Her CIS office was in the central office where I spent a class period being an office aide and seeing the nurse for my health. It was perfect for me. I started getting more and more involved with other students who were also in CIS.  I didn’t have any sisters or cousins or friends to talk to about boys, middle school drama, how to do my hair. I didn’t have a role model at home who looked like me or who could understand my day to day challenges. Becoming a young lady with no type of guide was something I didn’t understand. Now as an adult, as I reflect I can see that Ms. Taylor was doing something for me that no one had done before. As a young Afro Latina girl, she gave me the opportunity to glance into my own future and see how much better life could get if I could just keep pushing and get through the critical hard years. I would eat lunch in her office or work on my homework if I had free time. She helped me feel like I had a friend in a school where I couldn’t identify with any of the children. More importantly, she was one of the only adults I felt actually took an interest in the things that were happening to me and advised me on how to persevere.

Jared Hughes (HGMS site coordinator) and Daniel Horsch (CISDR board member)

My first summer after being a part of CIS, I got to go to Dallas Cowboys Camp. Ms. Taylor chaperoned me and about 6 other girls in the CIS van. We played football with some of the Cowboys players, got to meet the cheerleaders. They gave us t-shirts and hats and pictures and back packs. It was the most fun I got to have with more girls my age in a long time.  That was one of the best weeks of my young adult life. I had a blast and more importantly I made friends! This one of the first times I was able to get along with other girls my age and I knew it had everything to do with CIS. They encouraged me to try with the other girls, to be kind, to keep trying even if I felt discouraged. She made me understand that I was special. That I was smart, and pretty and gifted and people would be happy to have me as a friend. I didn’t fully understand that until she explained it to me.

A few years later, It was time for the 8th grade dance. 8th grade was another struggle. I spent the majority of the year hospitalized for different issues. Ms. Taylor would bring me my homework and assignments to Children’s Hospital to make sure I got them done so I could go to high school. I was really worried at the hospital that I wouldn’t get to go to the 8th grade dance. Ms. Taylor helped me make sure I got all my assignments were turned in and my grades were high enough to get permission to go. I couldn’t believe it when my parents agreed! I WAS SO NERVOUS. There was a boy, Drew, that I particularly wanted to ask me to the dance. Long story short he did! And when I told Ms. Taylor her face lit up for me! It was like having a big sister be super excited for you. She recommended a hairdresser to do my hair for the dance and talked to my mom about getting me an outfit. Everything was set and ready to go. My mom dropped me off at the dance and I ran inside. When I got there, Drew was dancing with another girl. I was heartbroken. When I asked him what was going on, he simply told me he just needed me to buy his ticket to the dance. I recall Ms Taylor later telling me that I was beautiful, any boy would be lucky to have me pay attention to him, and that in the future he would regret it. I didn’t care about any of that then, it was so painful that type of rejection to my young heart, but it stayed with me over the years.

My Site Coordinator at the time, Ms. Taylor, and CIS legitimately changed the course of my life. There have been other students, some who came with us to Cowboys camp, that didn’t stay in the program and haven’t fared as well as I. A few of them didn’t graduate high school, another has 6 children. It’s the luck of the draw. Life is tough and it only gets tougher. I already was raised to know that life was difficult, but Ms. Taylor taught me that things were painful but survivable. She taught me that everyone has a future but that it’s up to you, not your situation, your parents, your friends, JUST YOU. A hand can always be helpful, but its up to you to make things happen.  She and CIS were a lifeboat when I was trying to get through the Titanic. That is what CIS did for me. It gave me a hope. Someone to be my ally during those confusing years in every teenager’s life. It taught me life skills I wouldn’t have learned at home and that I didn’t have in my classrooms with teacher.  I will always be eternally grateful to CIS and to the opportunities it gave me.

Where am I now? I am a college graduate and working as the registrar at Hector Garcia Middle School in Dallas ISD. Imagine my joy to find a CIS office here, where students can find hope, connection and a kind hand to guide them thru the chaos of being a kid.

Our February Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) crisis training class is SOLD OUT!

Our next two class sessions are now open for April 18-19 and May 10-11. Go to to register today.

YMHFA is an accredited 8 hour class training for non-clinicians (parents, teachers, community) in how to identify symptoms and understand the warning signs of a child in mental health or substance abuse crisis. Visit the link above for more information on YMHFA.

Thank you to Chi Omega Christmas Market for raising $22,500 for CISDR. Your generosity and holiday spirit will make a better 2018 for high-need students in the Dallas region. Special thanks to Angie Pirok for getting to know and support our mission.

The last thing we need is another pundit with an opinion on how to curb the growing incidents of violence on school campuses. As parents, teachers, anyone interacting with school age children, we hold our breath with every breaking story, and hope that our Dallas community is the exception.

In reality, perhaps we need to increase direct conversation about the pressure cooker that our school ecosystems have become, where every day they are asked to do more with less. Ask an adult and a child the same question, about how safe they feel on campus, and you will get two very different answers. Unfortunately, unlike other disparities in education, we cannot place a racial, income or neighborhood label on this problem. It’s an issue that unites us across all demographics, which is why we need to tuck in our chins and address the youth sub-culture we shrug off, because we can’t relate to them.

You may not have heard of Communities In Schools (CIS) because our best work is done off the radar, away from the spotlight of whichever educational approach is trending.  CIS is a statewide intervention program working in partnership with school districts with one task – serving at-risk students who show behavioral signs of crisis, which in turn impact school attendance and eventually academic performance. Our job is to help build resilience in kids that are bullied, confused, angry or alone, but also address the bully, check in with parents at home, and coach alternative behaviors by building a relationship with as many students as possible. Our work is hands on, intentional and often heartbreaking as we talk to students every day about issues we, as adults, can barely fathom.

In the last two years, we have reinforced the fact that we don’t do it all alone and formalized a consortium of our service partners (C3), meeting regularly to compare notes on trends in student behavior, family needs and available resources. CIS is also a certified training site in Youth Mental Health First Aid, which provides non-clinicians with the 8-hour awareness course for the nominal cost of the take away manual. For over 30 years, we have been that little-known entity acting as an early warning indicator to identify, assess, mentor, connect and re-direct a child into a safe and productive state of mind. But like many programs this amazing city holds, they won’t work if we don’t implement them.

This year, you will find your local CIS quietly housed on 58 K – 12 campuses, in 9 school districts and 4 counties. In collaboration with brilliantly dedicated teachers and faculty, we’re an additional set of sharp eyes, tuned ears and open hearts to draw attention to situations that might be otherwise dismissed as “not a big deal”. We invite you to be an active participant in the lives of children you know, and maybe even some you don’t. Attend a CIS community training, follow our posts on social media for tips and insight, or visit the website to learn more. Our community may not have all the answers to preventing the threats plaguing our kids, but we CAN start asking the right questions and give it a run for its money.

Our C3 group will host a free candid community discussion around school climate, safety and students in crisis. Not about guns, but what brings a child to the point where this is an option and what can we do to prevent another tragedy. Join us at 9am on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 1341 W Mockingbird Ln, concourse level conference room, Dallas, TX 75247. If you’d like to attend, please register here, or contact us at

Our hearts, prayers and love go out to Parkland, Florida. In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, CISDR’s C3 group will host a free candid community discussion around school climate, safety and students in crisis. Not about guns, but what brings a child to the point where this is an option and what can we do to prevent another tragedy. Join us at 9am on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 1341 W Mockingbird Ln, Concourse Conference Room, Dallas, TX 75247. If you’d like to attend, please register here, or contact us at

Every year, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) releases a visual retrospective of our most recent accomplishments. Complete with narratives, photos and numbers, we do our best to summarize what we have done to impact the lives of the thousands of students we have served. The annual reports below serve as an introduction to the Communities In Schools model and mission. Each is a snapshot of staff dedication, immeasurable board commitment and an unyielding drive to stem the tide of children without a chance.

2016-2017 Annual Report

2016-17 CISDR Annual Report Cover

Previous Annual Reports

2016-17 CISDR Annual Report 2015-2016 Annual Report
2014-2015 Annual Report
2013-14 CISDR Annual Report 2013-2014 Annual Report
2012-13 CISDR Annual Report 2013-2014 Annual Report

As we close out the 2017 year, we to thank everyone involved in the successes achieved by the students of Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR). Once again, CISDR has brought about meaningful improvements for the children we work with on a daily basis throughout the school year.

We couldn’t do this without the support of our donors, staff, community leaders, volunteers and our collaborative and service partners.

During the 2016-2017 school year we supported 7,274 high need school children, 76% of which are living below the poverty line. These children achieved the following results:

  • 85% improved in academics, behavior and/or attendance
  • 89% were promoted to the next grade
  • 96% of the eligible seniors graduated and
  • 97% stayed in school.

CISDR strives to be a leader in education reform and continues to innovate our campus based interventions to serve the children, families and schools that need it most.

On November 14, 2017, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region received 715 coats from Macy’s and Clothes4Souls in their fifth-annual Share the Warmth program. These coats were disbursed to 49 campuses across the DFW metropolitan area, creating a true and meaningful season of giving.

Seeing the smiles and appreciation filled the hearts of our CISDR Staff, teachers, and their families. Parents do not have to worry about the cost of providing warmth to their children and their children are filled with joy and excitement, boosting self-esteem promoting success in the classroom. Others who witness this giving become inspired to share in the joy of giving. One coat given can change hundreds of lives.