“Sonise is like a mom to these students. She’ll nag them about their homework, but everyone in the halls is always running up to give her hugs,” said Elizabeth Mejia, executive director of Communities In Schools of Miami.
Sonise Carri has been a site coordinator since 2005, and working with high school students since 2007. She carries an air of authority, but her sincerity and honest manner make her a person that young men and women feel comfortable talking to about their problems. She lets every student know she cares about his or her journey to success.
Although Carri is not shy about initiating relationships with students, she doesn’t need to seek out students who need support; all of the students at Miami Northwestern Senior High know she is there whenever they need her.
Her office is centrally located so students can easily find her. Recently, when the school was looking into creating an onsite office for a local college and there was talk of moving Carri’s office to a more isolated area in the building, students and staff alike stood up to support the site coordinator.
“The way the school is set up, the first floor is the attendance office and the main office,” Carri said. “Within the attendance office are the guidance counselors, assistant principal and the dean of discipline. Everyone that plays a key part in the students’ lives is in there. Sometimes they refer a parent to me to find outside resources, or I talk to them about academic information. It’s a lot easier for all of us to be in contact with each other if we’re on the same floor.”
Carri didn’t complain when she found out her office was moving; but when she told the staff and students, they went, as the site coordinator put it, “bananas.”
A few days before Carri was supposed to move her office, she took a group of students to a financial literacy camp sponsored by Communities In Schools of Miami. She was definitely not expecting to come back to school to find her office covered in caution tape and a sign that said “Communities In Schools Eviction Canceled.” While the site coordinator was away, Northwestern students and staff created a petition to keep Carri’s office in the same spot, along with those of the people she worked with to help students achieve. And they succeeded.
“To have that testament was so amazing,” Mejia said. “She felt so loved.”
“My students go through a lot of stuff,” Carri said. “If they don’t have someone there for them, they’ll melt down. Being a site coordinator is an additional voice for the students, and I love being able to support them.”