‘Communities in Schools’ returns to Coweta to help ‘at risk’ students


Communities In Schools (CIS) of Georgia Director Neil Shorthouse recently provided the Newnan Rotary Club with information on efforts by the organization to serve at-risk students. The program is expected to be reinstated in Coweta in 2014.

Shorthouse said the CIS goal is to increase high school graduation and reduce dropout rates. Shorthouse thanked local leaders for their efforts to reinstate Coweta’s Communities in Schools program.

“You have a great school system, an innovative system here in Coweta County,” said Shorthouse, noting the future of Georgia and the nation rests with the success of students in public schools. “But there are also social issues, issues that have nothing to do with schools and don’t start there, that pull us back.”

Shorthouse asked Rotarians, business and community leaders to focus on the challenges faced by students who live in poverty. He encouraged club members to become involved with Communities in Schools as a way to support at-risk students with community resources that could help them learn and flourish at school and graduate.

Coweta County’s Communities in Schools maintained a strong program for many years under the leadership of the late Bonnie Garrison, said Coweta County School System spokesman Dean Jackson. 

“The program has been revitalized in the last year with support by Leadership Coweta, the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce and the Coweta County School System,” said Jackson.

The local board is working towards initiating programs aimed particularly at elementary-aged students in 2014 and is approaching the community currently for funding and marketing of the efforts.

“Communities In Schools has had a long track record of success in Coweta County,” said Central Educational Center (CEC) CEO Mark Whitlock. “That success has set the stage for a broader program today focused particularly on younger ages and focused on the barriers faced by young students that can prevent them from being successful in school.”

Jackson said the local board is led by Chairman Dennis McEntire, Vice Chair Lisa Smith, and members Carole Ann Fields, Garnet Reynolds, Arthur “Skin” Edge, Matt Brass, Sally Hensley, Kristy Lilly, Rhodes Shell, Jac Counts, Vince Bass, Beverly Yeager, Lisa McDonald and Gerald Kemp. 

Founded in the 1970s, CIS operates 183 programs in 27 states. Communities In Schools is considered the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, providing at-risk children with academic assistance, school supplies, health care, counseling, family support, food and positive community role models. In addition to strengthening community outreach to children most in need through their schools and school systems, the organization also encourages greater involvement by parents in their children’s education, and offers students ways to take greater responsibility for their own learning and development.

For more information on CIS visit www.communitiesinschools.org