Before the end of last school year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and while students were distance learning, Jason told his CIS Site Coordinator at Lanier High School, Elissa, that he saw more value in work instead of finishing school with a diploma. He finished out the school year, but when Elissa found out he had not re-enrolled for this school year, she pulled out all the stops. “He needed a positive male role model in his life to guide him and encourage him to push forward and finish school. I enlisted six of my former colleagues and friends to make videos with their stories of how they struggled and overcame obstacles as well as discuss the importance of school and earning a diploma,” Elissa said.

She compiled the videos together and wrote Jason a message to start off the video, “I was at a loss for words and felt like I had to do something.” She invited him to watch these videos because, “everyone has a story.” Each of Elissa’s friends tell their story of how they had big dreams, but they couldn’t reach those dreams without the support of those around them and they certainly couldn’t go as far as they have without finishing high school. Her friend Cameron encouraged Jason telling him, “It’s a great feeling to not only realize that you can do those things and be challenged and accept your own challenge, but then look at yourself and think well I did that – I beat that challenge – what else can I do?” Each story was filled with hope and inspiration for Jason to take with him.

After sending him this video, she visited him at home to talk about his future. They discussed him coming back to school and he even asked if he could sign up for basketball and track. This week, he has been re-enrolled to Lanier High School to finish strong. Elissa informed his teachers and the campus coach so Jason is surrounded by support and encouragement. The Lanier coach said he would personally motivate Jason to help him get his grades where they need to be to participate in the upcoming season. CIS-SA Site Coordinators like Elissa do whatever it takes to make sure their students get the education they not only need, but the education they deserve. We’re grateful for an incredible team that goes beyond school walls, no matter what.