Communities in Schools helps the whole child

Published 12:20 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

Terry Olliver sees firsthand the positive impact Communities in Schools has on the students he works with at DeQueen Elementary School in Port Arthur.

“Honestly, I can really see how this affects students. They build a relationship with me and I build relationships with them,” Olliver said. “Yes ma’am

I see the change. They care more; they know someone cares about them. They know they might not have what they need but they know someone at school cares about them that they can count on to help them.”

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Olliver said Communities in School Southeast Texas provides whole group sessions that serve all of the students. For example, they might have an agency come in and talk about bullying or hygiene. There are also small group or individual sessions targeting a student’s direct need.

And all of this takes place while the student is at school while not missing any classes.

“We also can help with homework and build a relationship with parents to further know the students’ needs,” he said.

Communities in Schools is also there to help the school as well; teachers, counselors, assistant principal etc.

“We are like a village,” he said. “I’m just here to be a helper they can rely on from the kids to the staff.”

Communities in School Southeast Texas was one of 13 non-profit organizations which were recipients of the inaugural Port Arthur News Season of Giving powered by Port Arthur LNG.

Adrienne Lott, media and communications specialist for Port Arthur independent School District, told of a number of activities done by the non-profit, from bringing in a dentist to teach oral hygiene and providing toothbrushes and toothpaste to bringing in Girl Scouts to work with girls at PE at least once a month.

There also give information out on the dangers of vaping, explain “good touch, bad touch” so children know if they are being mistreated or abused and how to report it.

The assistance offered by Communities in Schools also helps with other issues, such as food insecurity and uniforms or coats and shoes.

In October, Lott told Port Arthur Newsmedia that “Communities in Schools is the hidden jewel. If you have them on campus, you definitely want to keep them there. They are a catch-all. Anything the campus needs, they provide it.”

Currently the non-profit serves 54 schools in Southeast Texas, 14 of which are in Port Arthur and three in Nederland. Other districts include 21 Beaumont schools, five Jasper schools, three West Orange-Cove schools, four Bob Hope schools, one West Hardin school and three Vidor schools.

Port Arthur Newsmedia Editor Monique Batson contributed to this story.