Capital One MathCorps 2019

Capital One logoEach June, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) sends elementary students to the Capital One corporate campus in Plano for the Capital One MathCorps Initiative. In this two week initiative lead by Capital One employees, students learn individual decision making skills, how to work with others, critical thinking skills, problem solving, and of course, math skills. Each day students start with an assessment, followed by interactive lessons, hands-on activities, and educational games. At the end of the day, they retake the morning test to see what they learned.

This partnership between Capital One and CISDR allows students to interact with the Capital One employees who lead each of the sessions throughout the initiative. The students attending MathCorps gain a unique perspective and learn to use math skills as well as life skills in real world, real work situations. Special thanks to Capital One and the incredible Capital One employees who provide this dynamic learning initiative for these students. Because of this program these students will be better prepared to use mathematics and decision making skills in both school and in life.

2019 Capital One MathCorps Photos

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? 37% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of school, which is the highest dropout rate of any disability group, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In the last two years, we have seen a 20% jump in the number of students having mental health issues. With kids as young as 8 in crisis, we are training teachers, parents and other caring adults like you in Mental Health First Aid. Learn to recognize the signs of distress, so you can put the phrase “see something, say something” into action. Join us for an upcoming session, to make sure that red flags will be noticed, students will receive greater care, and schools will be safer.

Starting today and running through June 9th, keep an eye out for our 30 second Public Service Announcement on NBC 5. The spots will air from 4:00 pm through 7:00 pm. Let us know what you think!


Vibha Dallas, a volunteer-driven organization that works hard to ensure that every child has access to quality education, has selected CISDR as the local beneficiary of their 16th Annual Kite Flying Festival. This free family-friendly event will be held at Northlake College (5001 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, Texas 75038) on Saturday, May 4, 2019 from 2pm to 8pm. Bring a kite or buy one there. You are also welcome to bring a picnic basket or purchase food from one of our many vendors.

This year’s festival will feature a high-energy fashion show as well as performances by community members and local dance schools. The first 200 kids will have a chance to learn about the science and history behind kites, all while making their own. Face painting, henna, temporary tattoos, a bounce house and a raffle will add to the festivities. A cozy marketplace will feature vendors with interesting wares for sale. We welcome all members of the community to join us at this free and fun event.

Congratulations to our Employee of the Month, Debi Williams at Armstrong Middle School in Plano. Debi has hit the ground running since she started with CISDR. She is thorough in her work, always meets deadlines, and runs a great program on her campus. Debi is a great team player and always is sure to bounce ideas around with her colleagues. She ensures that her students know they have someone to count on in their school. By going above and beyond, Debi makes her students feel safe and important. For putting put her best effort into everything she does for her students, Debi Williams is our Employee of the Month.

Congratulations to our Employee of the Month, Cara Cargill at Press Elementary in McKinney. Cara was nominated by her colleagues because of her ability to adjust and make any situation work for her. Her collaboration with the school counselor is outstanding, and when the counselor was named counselor of the year for McKinney ISD, she thanked Cara and all her hard work in her acceptance speech. Cara cares about her students and works to provide positive groups. Thank you, Cara, for all the hard work you do for the children we serve!

CISDR’s Employee of the Month program recognizes staff whose job performance and overall contributions embody our mission. Our January 2019 Employee of the Month is Raul Ferrer at Finch Elementary in McKinney.

Raul, who has worked for CISDR for more than 12 years, was nominated because “he is always looking for resources that will benefit his students and help with parent engagement. He works tirelessly to provide the services that his students need, and is well-known throughout McKinney ISD.” Congratulations to Raul for being Employee of the Month!

Thank You to the South Asian Bar Association of Dallas / Fort Worth (SABA DFW) for raising $9,000 for CISDR at its annual gala last fall. Special thanks to everyone at SABA who helped make this possible, including CISDR Board Member Neelima Gonuguntla, Shivan Mehta, Johnson Kuncheria, Vishal Patel and Sonali Patnaik. On behalf of our students, staff and board, thank you for a wonderful evening supporting the children of CISDR!

We are happy to announce that Sylvia E. Fuentes has joined the CISDR Board of Directors. Sylvia has been an educator for 20 years. She is an accomplished leader, trainer and presenter with over a decade of successful, innovative experience in campus and central office administration, supporting school communities in the urban sector.
Sylvia has been recognized as a dynamic Turn-Around Principal for every school level from Elementary to Overage-High School. She is the first recipient of the Dallas Association of Counselors’ “Principal of the Year” award. In addition, she was recognized as “Principal of the Year” by the Association of Hispanic School Administrators of Dallas and was a Finalist for “Principal of the Year” with the Dallas Independent School District.
Currently, Sylvia is Lead Associate and Consultant for Stetson and Associates, Inc., where she provides expert support and consultation for school districts, educational organizations, and state agencies dedicated to supporting students. She is also the founder of Thriving Leaders Collaborative, a leading organization that supports school transformation through school personnel, family and community empowerment to effect sustainable change.
Sylvia has a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently in the Doctoral Program for Educational Leadership K-12 and Policy Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, with an expected graduation date of May 2019.
We are grateful to have Sylvia’s expertise on our Board, and we look forward to her help in furthering our mission of surrounding students with a community of support and empowering them to stay in school and succeed in life.

As we give thanks…

…the story of one resilient young woman…

Above: Eritrea telling her story to guests at the 2018 CISDR Golf Tournament.

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 11, and along with the usual struggles of becoming a young lady, I was attempting to deal with Type 1 Diabetes and an unstable home environment.

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. She’d gone to college and had a degree in chemical engineering. My father had been in the child militias of East Africa, and had escaped to seek refuge in the US at age 17. 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.

Coming into middle school was intimidating and at times felt impossible. 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 cliques. Throughout middle school, I spent a lot of my time in the central office with the nurse. Being a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic was a struggle for me. 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 introduced me to Ms. Kendria Taylor, the CIS Site Coordinator.

Ms. Taylor was young, a graduate from UNT, and she was spunky too! 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, or 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, 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.

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. We played football with some of the Cowboys players, got to meet the cheerleaders. It was the most fun I got to have in a long time. This was one of the first times I was able to get along with girls my age and I knew it had everything to do with CIS.

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 that I wouldn’t get to go to the 8th grade dance. Ms. Taylor helped me make sure I got all my assignments turned in and that my grades were high enough to go. I couldn’t believe it when my parents agreed!

Ms. Taylor and CIS legitimately changed the course of my life. I 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. She and CIS were a lifeboat when I was trying to get off the Titanic. That is what CIS did for me. It gave me 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 or in the classroom. I will always be eternally grateful to CIS and to the opportunities it gave me.

Above: Eritrea (right) with her former CISDR Site Coordinator (and current CISDR Board Member) Kendria Taylor

Today, Eritrea is a college graduate working on a school campus in Dallas. Imagine her surprise and delight when she learned that her new employer had a CISDR office! Eritrea’s former Site Coordinator, Kendria Taylor, is now a member of the CISDR Board, and Eritrea herself volunteers with our Leadership Council.

We are very thankful for Eritrea’s personal and professional success, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other students who have overcome adversity through the Communities In Schools program. We are also grateful for the hard work of our staff, volunteers, amazing board and you!