CISTA kick-starts summer for students
Communities In Schools of the Tecumseh Area (CISTA) is kicking off a busy summer with T-Town Safety Monday, June 24. CISTA executive director Heather Masten said that the course, which teaches students five years old through second grade about a wide range of safety issues, is already fully enrolled, but parents who would like to check for last minute openings may call the office at 423.7574. There is a fee for all programs.Masten said that she is grateful for the community’s participation in CISTA’s classes and programs. For example, she pointed out that the Tecumseh Police and Fire Departments are always cooperative in helping children understand that there is help available in times of danger during the T-Town Safety course. “Among many other things, they learn at a young age that 911 will get a concerned adult on the phone,” Masten said, “and that is an important lesson.”The T-Town Safety program incorporates playground safety, bike safety, and fire safety, along with stranger danger warnings.Courses throughout the summer are instructed by CISTA staff: Cindy Hook at the middle school, and Rhonda Tinsley and Lisa Kirby at various sites, but also by professional people who volunteer their services to teach and reassure children including student volunteers from Tecumseh High School, who assist site coordinators at the various schools where the courses are conducted. Besides the local police and fire department personnel, participants will be instructed this summer by Tom and Sylvia Jenkins from the Law Enforce-ment Education Program; Anne Kane of Golden Acres, who instructs in pet health and safety; Korey Petterly of the Lenawee County Sheriff Marine Patrol; Sue Dieter of First Student Transportation, who teaches school bus safety; a representative from the Michigan Attorney General’s office speaking on cyber safety; and the Tecumseh Parks and Recreation department, a representative of which will instruct on playground safety.“We have a great community that is willing to work with us,” Masten said of the many officers and organizations who will be working with the T-Town students and other courses during the summer. Masten said that many businesses have contributed both money and goods to help with the classes CISTA offers.Next up on the summer schedule is Middle School Mayhem, which runs from Monday, July 8, through Friday, July 19. This session is for students who will be entering the sixth grade and will deal with the transition to the higher level of learning and responsipbliity that goes along with what was formerly called junior high school.Middle School Mayhem works with students to increase math skills with team-building activities that help students with socialization skills. It is not all math problems, though. Students are also introduced to basic cooking and sewing projects, skills that Masten said are important for both boys and girls. Julie Sinclair of Stitch Wizard facilitates the tailoring class.Students are usually referred to this program through their fifth-grade teacher, but availability of seats for the class can be arranged independently, space allowing, by calling the CISTA office. CISTA also has a website where applications and more information are available at www.cistecumseh.org or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.As the summer winds down, August opens up opportunities for students entering first grade and a transitional opportunity for students making the leap from one of the four elementary schools in the district to the middle school. The program for children just starting school is from Monday, Aug. 5, through Friday, Aug. 9, and is called ABC Refresher. It reinforces a child’s understanding of the alphabet, as the course title implies. It also helps the begininning students to strengthen their writing skills through crafts and stories.For the older students, fourth graders going into middle school, Summer with S.A.M. (Students Achieve More) is designed to prepare students for the new environment of middle school. The adjustment to the move from elementary school is helped along with a mathematics course that is keyed to bringing students up to speed on the level of that subject that they will be encountering when they begin school in the fall. This course also emphasizes team-building, which strengthens students face-to-face socialization skills.The CISTA staff also includes Diane Savoia, who is developing site coordinator at the high school, helping to arrange for older students to mentor the younger participants of the summer programs. The CISTA board includes Sherri Tuckey, chairperson; Sam Schmidt, treasurer, Heather Marsh, secretary, Michael Sunderland, Janis Montalvo, Mike McAran, Kevin Welch, Tom Wright, Erika Aylward, Amy Snelling, Melissa Hilton, Rhaea Miller, Thomas Meyer, and Heather Franco. Student board members are Jillian Rine, Preston Pelham, and Mariah Armstrong.Executive Director Masten said that one of the most important tools that CISTA employs to evaluate what services are needed for the school district students is the annual needs assessment survey, which asks parents questions about how the organization is helping through its programs during the summer and through the school year. “We have collected a wealth of information over the years,” she said, “and it helps us adjust and adapt our programs to the needs of the students and the community.