Katie was a freshman at Sehome High School in Bellingham, Washington. She was not initially recommended to Communities In Schools for extra support, but when Site Coordinator Bergitte Olsen saw that she was failing all of her classes three weeks into the school year Bergitte talked to her about the opportunity to work with an academic mentor called a Graduation Coach.

Katie was hesitant at first. She confided in Bergitte that she already had a lot on her plate at home. Her family was in a time of transition. Her single mother was providing for Katie and her three siblings in addition to four foster siblings. Money was very tight and Katie had a lot of responsibilities at home. She really bought into the idea of joining CIS when one of her Young Life group leaders volunteered to be her Graduation Coach. They met every week for about an hour after school.

Katie was slowly starting to bring her grades up to passing when the winter basketball season started. Joining the team meant she had practice every day after school and could no longer meet with her Graduation Coach. Luckily, her Graduation Coach was flexible and agreed to meet with Katie in her morning homeroom class. Throughout this time, Bergitte was regularly checking in with Katie. She provided detailed grade print outs and goal setting sheets for Katie to work on with her Graduation Coach.

As a result, Katie went from failing all but one class with a 0.8 GPA in the first quarter to passing all of her classes and raising her GPA to 1.9 at the semester. Not long after, Katie’s Graduation Coach graduated from college and moved away. Bergitte and her fellow Site Coordinator, Kelsey Gaude, were able to step in and continue to provide Katie with caring support. It wasn’t long until Katie was stopping by the Communities In Schools office four or more times a day between classes or at lunch. She might have lost her Graduation Coach, but she did not lose a one-on-one relationship with two caring adults in her school. With regular check-ins with the CIS AmeriCorps members, Katie finished the year strong with a 2.5 GPA in the second semester.