Communities In Schools of Rowan County, N.C., Site Coordinator Bob Foreman’s first career was in music. The New York native plays the trombone, has degrees in music education and brass instruments, and taught instrumental music in New York State for 32 years. After retiring in 2001 and relocating to North Carolina, Foreman landed his current job with Communities In Schools of Rowan County in 2003. As a site coordinator at Knox Middle School in Salisbury, N.C., Foreman works to stay in tune with the needs of at-risk students.
Of the 589 students at Knox, 89 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch.
“I’ve worked with low-income students and families before,” said Foreman. “Now I’m working with kids who are in poverty. There are so many needs, and we can only do so much. I want them to know that I am a support, but I also want to provide them with what they need when I’m not around.”
One of his most successful initiatives has been a partnership with nearby Catawba College. The partnership was forged before Foreman arrived, but has since expanded. The school sends tutors and mentors to Knox. They work one-on-one with 22 students for an hour every week. Foreman has also asked for help from volunteers from St. Johns Lutheran Church, a local church that has adopted Knox Middle School, adding another 24 adults to the total amount who mentor and tutor at the middle school.
His previous experience as a teacher has helped him navigate through the many steps and procedures that are often required when it comes to getting things done within the school system. But being in a support role, where he isn’t the teacher, was a totally new experience for Foreman. He quickly learned that the best way to gain the confidence of teachers and parents was to start by building relationships.
When he speaks with teachers, he offers them another approach to working with students, letting them know he is available as an added resource if they need it. When he speaks with parents, he makes sure he is bridging the gap between them wanting to help their child and knowing what needs to be done to make that happen.
But it is when the site coordinator speaks with students that Foreman finds his work the most rewarding.
“I’ve always really enjoyed working with kids,” said Foreman. “I had a band teacher who was fantastic and that’s why I ended up teaching. I like the idea of being there for them to help them see where their strengths are. I worked once with a sixth grader who was struggling. And now he’s turned things around and is getting A’s and B’s, and he can see his potential. I know that Communities In Schools services help provide that.”
Foreman’s wife, Beth, is also a Communities In Schools of Rowan County site coordinator, working at Koontz Elementary School. Their support for students is a true family affair.