Dear Ms. Rosenbaum


It’s time again to think back to when you were young and in school and recall that caring adult you felt especially connected to. Maybe it was in elementary school, or perhaps it was middle or high school. Who is that special person who you still carry within your hearts, even after all these years?

For CIS volunteer Melanie Perry, her caring adult is a former teacher in the Kalamazoo Public Schools.  Years later, Melanie is giving back by helping students with their reading–in the same school district she attended. Since 2013, Melanie has been volunteering at Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School. How cool is that?



Dear Ms. Rosenbaum,

You were my fourth grade teacher at Washington Elementary. I still recall the time each day when you read aloud to the class. It felt like you were reading just to me. I remember you crying as you read the sad parts, which really made the story come alive and mean so much more.

I love reading stories to my grandchildren and hope in some way I can emulate for them what you did for me.

Thank you for being an inspiration in my life.



Melanie Perry



Seeing The World Through Mindful Eyes

How do students learn how to pay attention? How did you learn to notice things? Jessica Smith is back this week as our guest blogger and she tells us about one technique some students are practicing to develop their attention skills.


In my last post, I discussed the benefits of mindful breathing. Now, I am going to discuss mindful seeing. When you are looking at your surroundings and the world mindfully, you are paying attention to every detail surrounding you.

While working with students in the mindfulness group, we practiced mindful seeing. The students were instructed to find an object in the room and focus on it while paying attention to specific details. Some of those details include:

The color of the object
The shape of the object
The details of the object (For example, does it have a distinct pattern?)

Imagine you are walking in a garden of flowers. Let’s say you find a purple lily that caught your eye. Instead of simply glancing at this beautiful lily, mindfully look at it. What shade of purple is it? Does it have any speckles? What does the texture of the flower petals look like?

You may notice little speckles or dots, or the lines on the smooth texture of the petal. This is how you see mindfully. You look for details that you might not notice if you were looking at the flower as you normally would.

Seeing the world around us mindfully can help us notice things we may not have noticed before. We become aware of details we may not have been aware of prior to using our eyes in a mindful manner. We may learn to appreciate our surroundings by noticing the small details. We might notice the smallest details in a painting at an art museum, for instance.

Ever since I learned the technique of mindful seeing, it has helped me pay closer attention to my surroundings. I notice the patterns in a ceiling and the smallest details while watching a movie or a TV show.

Once you start seeing the world through mindful eyes, your perception will be different in a good way. Mindful seeing helps us slow down and notice our surroundings more carefully.

The more we use our eyes mindfully, the more likely we will appreciate the beauty of our world and the joys in life.

Man, Person, Figure, Abstract, Step

My next post will be about mindful listening. Stay up to date for CIS news and events through Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.


Remember to Breathe

Today’s guest blogger is Jessica Smith. A Western Michigan University MSW student, Jessica interned  with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo last school year. As part of her internship, she wrote several blog posts about mindfulness for Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.  



In April, I wrote a blog post introducing mindfulness. For this post, I am going to discuss mindful breathing.

When we’re breathing, we often don’t think about it. However, paying attention to our breathing and focusing on it is what we call “mindful breathing” – paying attention to each breath we take.

This year at Kids In Tune, the students at Woods Lake Elementary learned about mindful breathing and how to do it. First, the students get into their “mindful bodies,” which is a comfortable position, whether it be sitting cross-legged or lying on their backs or stomachs. Next, they close their eyes or make “soft eyes,” which consists of looking at the ground or at something that calms them.

During mindful breathing, the students focused on each breath they took, while slowly breathing in and breathing out. It’s not uncommon for the mind to wander during the practice of mindful breathing. In fact, it’s normal. If your mind wanders while you’re practicing mindful breathing, all you need to do is acknowledge and accept that passing thought, then bring your focus back to your breathing.

Practicing mindful breathing can be very calming, reduces anxiety and allows you to take a “break” from the day, putting all of your focus on each breath you take. The more the students practiced mindful breathing, the easier it became for them. They practiced mindful breathing for periods of time as short as 30 seconds to as long as 5 or 6 minutes. The more they practiced mindful breathing, the more calm and relaxed the students appeared.

Simply taking a couple minutes of your day to practice mindful breathing is a great stress reliever. If you would like to try mindful breathing, here are the steps:

•             Find a quiet, relaxing place to sit cross-legged or lie down in a position that feels most comfortable to you.

•             Close your eyes or make “soft eyes.”

•             Inhale slowly, hold it for a few seconds, then let your breath out.

•             You can continue this for as short as 30 seconds or as long as 5, 10 minutes, whatever you feel is best for you!

In my next post, I will discuss mindful seeing.

Meditation, Boy, Nature, Zen, Child


Check out “Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids” for the latest on CIS news and events.


Back to School Means…

It’s back to school today and back by popular demand is a post about what back to school means here at Communities In School…




Believing that the future of our community rests in our children who deserve caring adults to help them

Achieve their potential, academically, socially, and emotionally. Serving as a

Compass, a guide, an adult is placed intentionally on their path by a CIS Site Coordinator or After School Coordinator.

Kid-focused, we surround students with the supports they need.


The time is now. Every day, our donors, volunteers, school and community partners, and staff are

Opening the hearts & minds of children who are struggling and have given up or stopped believing in themselves,


Showing them a path to success in school, a path that allows them to pursue their dreams and passions….

Connecting the right services, to the right kids, at the right time, CIS restores

Hope in the lives of children and their families. Together, we are working to

Open doors of possibilities students can walk through to greet the

Opportunities they need to succeed in school and life and

Live out their Promise.


Thank you for donatingvolunteeringpartnering and working with Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Welcome to the new school year!



Four Clues That School is About to Start

Summer is almost over. While Kalamazoo Public Schools reminds us that the first day of school is Tuesday, September 8th, there are a few other clues at CIS that school is just around the corner.

Clue #1:  Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo is bursting with fresh, new back to school supplies for students.

From pencils, to notebooks, and backpacks, local businesses, faith-based groups, other organizations, and community members have been generous in helping our kids get off to a great start. We thank you all! We also give a shout out to our AmeriCorps VISTAS who helped with packing and organizing the wonderful contributions our kids will soon be receiving. A special thanks to our AmeriCorps VISTAS!

(Left to right) CIS Office Assistant Shayla Palmer and Lead AmeriCorps VISTA Lauren Longwell in the CIS Conference room work on packing up supplies.

Clue #2:  We can’t find Elyse Brey’s office. As CIS Director of Elementary Sites, she always keeps her space nice and organized but with all the back to school supplies and boxes we can’t seem to find her desk. (We’re not complaining. Keep the donations coming as our kids need them!)

Clue #3:  We are starting to see our floors again! Allied sent us two great movers—Craig Peterson and Archie Swindle—to get the resources to the right schools where our CIS Site Coordinators and their team can get them to the right kids!

Archie Swindle heading up ramp with school supplies. Craig Peterson inside the truck.

Clue #4:  This week, as part of our “Back to School Launch,” we’re seeing some fabulous “seasoned” as well as new faces. Here’s a few CIS staff who will be supporting our kids and the many volunteers and partners who work with us throughout 20 Kalamazoo Public Schools. What do these wonderful faces all have in common? They are all proud graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools!