Communities in Schools announces new partnership, hopes to tackle students’ non-academic needs

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- For some students, succeeding in the classroom is about a lot more than academics.

Emotional and social needs can make doing homework or paying attention in class difficult.

Friday, a group hoping to address those non-academic needs, Communities in Schools (CIS), announced it would now be partnering with Eastlawn Elementary in Burlington.

CIS currently partners with more than 400 schools across the state, but Eastlawn Elementary is the first partner school in the Alamance-Burlington School System.

J'Taime Lyons, a former teacher at Eastlawn, will now serve as its CIS Student Support Specialist.

"When I see the students at Eastlawn, I see myself," the eastern North Carolina native said. "I lived in poverty and did not even know that. Our parents try to give us their best but sometimes they may not have the resources."

Lyons recalled one student who struggled to focus, and she later learned it was due partly to emotional issues related to his father being incarcerated.

"This child is coming to school with so much in their backpack that's not academic," she said. "And it's unfair for me to ask that child to turn it off."

Lyons said CIS will provide services to both students and parents, including teaching parents how best to read to their children at home.

Monisa Brown, whose grandson is at Eastlawn, said she looks forward to using the services.

"I think that's going to be a tremendous support to the school," she said. "That's a big thing with me, education. Because that's going to take you wherever you want to go in life. And something you can fall back on. Not just a temporary thing."

The Eastlawn Elementary/CIS partnership was made possible thanks to a $28,000 donation from State Farm.

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