CHARLESTON, WV (Hinton News) – Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice announced the launch of the official website for her nonprofit education initiative, Communities In Schools (CIS) West Virginia.
“I am beyond thrilled to have our CIS website up and running,” said First Lady Justice. “A lot of hard work has gone into developing the website, and I sincerely thank all involved. Important information and data will now be readily available, which will be highly beneficial to our goal of expanding CIS to all 55 West Virginia counties.”
CIS aims to forge community partnerships and bring resources into schools to help remove barriers to student learning with a goal of keeping all students in school and ultimately graduating.
In 2018, First Lady Justice started the CIS program in three pilot counties. Since then, the program has expanded to include 194 schools in 36 counties.
First Lady Justice was joined by representatives from the West Virginia Department of Education, including West Virginia Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach; Deputy Superintendent of Schools Michele Blatt; Debra Sullivan, CIS Advisory Council Chair and West Virginia Board of Education Member; CIS Program Coordinators Cynthia Sorsaia and Tracy Komorowski; CIS Regional Specials Erin Boyd, Zachary Hughart, Ginny Ratliff and Carla Snell; Vicki Shannon, Executive Assistant of First Lady Justice; and Serena Nichols, CIS Liason from the Office of the First Lady.
“I cannot overstate the important role Communities In Schools plays in our public schools,” said Superintendent Roach. “The relationships built with our most vulnerable children lead to better outcomes academically, emotionally and developmentally. The new web resource will be instrumental in developing even broader avenues of support for CIS, our children, and our schools.”
“CIS is a major pillar of support for our schools and our students,” said Deputy Superintendent Blatt. “As we evolve out of the pandemic, the needs of our children have grown exponentially, and our teachers and principals need the critical help that this program provides. The announcement today means that we can extend the story and mission of CIS and allow more involvement from stakeholders around the state and country.”
“Through the CIS website, our West Virginia community at large can learn more about CIS and can become directly involved by contributing funds to support the operation and growth of this special program,” said Sullivan. “In my mind, there is no more important mission than to educate and uplift our youngest residents. The First Lady’s zeal for children’s well-being is widely recognized. CIS is already making a difference and the CIS website will extend the good work being done to directly touch students’ lives.”
The website will feature a CIS county on the homepage every few weeks. The counties will be featured in alphabetical order starting with Berkeley County. More information about the impact of CIS across the state can be found on the website’s home page under “Our Impact.”
“The launching of this website will make a huge difference in our ability to connect with those wanting to support Communities In Schools West Virginia,” said Sorsaia. “Our hope is that when they access the website and learn about the impact we are making across the state, they will be inspired to become a supporter of this amazing work!”
Also at the event, First Lady Justice accepted a $15,000 check from the Truist West Virginia Foundation in support of CIS, presented by Truist West Virginia Regional President Patrick O’Malley. This is the third year that the Truist West Virginia Foundation has made a contribution to the CIS Nonprofit.
“We are extremely grateful for the continued support of Truist West Virginia,” said First Lady Justice. “They see the value that our CIS program brings to our education system and are paving the way for other West Virginia businesses to follow suit.”
“This is a big day for Communities In Schools. I look forward to getting feedback from the website and from our CIS teams throughout the state who will be able to learn about what their colleagues are doing in their respective counties.”
More information about Communities In Schools WV can be found on the new website at ciswv.org.