Since it began in 2000, Communities in Schools Peninsula (CISP) has helped hundreds of students academically, socially and in other important ways.

CISP volunteers tutor children in math and reading and also help them work through social and emotional issues that affect their learning.

According to CISP program director Laurel Shultz, volunteers gave 6,831 hours to helping children on the Key and throughout the Peninsula School District between July 2014 and June 2015.

“Our main goal is to keep kids from dropping out of school,” Shultz said. “Teachers can’t do it all, so we bring community members into the schools too, to help kids one-on-one.”

More than 90 percent of CISP students go to college, according to KP resident Wendy Wojtanowicz.

Wojtanowicz is the CISP site coordinator at Peninsula High School and at Key Peninsula Middle School.

Wojtanowicz has been on the school board for eight years and started working as the first permanent site coordinator at KPMS in October.

“As site coordinators we can aid the school counselors –– not just in academics but also the social aspects,” she said. “We can get emergency dental services for the kids or if we know of a family dealing with homelessness, we can get them the resources they need.”

The CISP volunteers develop important personal relationships with the children they help, she added.

“We provide after school mentors in math, English and sciences. We also try to engage the community by having events.”

In February, Wojtanowicz organized a “We are the Love” program at KPMS in partnership with the Peninsula violence-prevention coalition, with funding from CHI Franciscan. “It’s a program where kids do community service projects,” she said.

“It was part of National No Name-calling week. It’s about spreading kindness. The kids would sit with someone new at lunch, or do something that tells the other kids that we’re glad they’re here and we like them,” she said.

Also during school lunch time, the children made 367 valentine cards. “The kids decorated them and personalized them. All the materials were free,” Wojtanowicz said. “And just before Valentine’s Day we distributed them throughout the school to make sure that every kid could feel the love,” she said.

The We are the Love project was Wojtanowicz’s own idea, Shultz said.

“We’ve never done it before. But Wendy knows the community very well and she took it upon herself to write a grant to the Franciscan foundation specifically to help fund the We are the Love program. We’re so lucky to have her.”

Wojtanowicz has another CISP event scheduled March 18 at KPMS. “It’s called Dancing Through the Ages,” Wojtanowicz said. “If you’re good at dancing you can come and give instruction on your favorite dance from your favorite era.”

Or just come and learn a new dance.

For information on CISP visit peninsula.ciswa.org.

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