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Lexi’s Journey: A Giving Heart

CIS of Georgia | Academic Assistance Basic Needs Mental Health Poverty Technology

Seventeen year-old Lexi has an unbreakably positive attitude towards school and life, no matter what challenges she faced throughout her childhood. Growing up in poverty wasn’t easy and instability stood in the way of becoming the person she truly wanted to be: a good student who helps other teenagers facing similar barriers to learning.

Lexi carried a lot on her shoulders. With her father in the criminal justice system, she cared for her younger siblings and never complained about carrying adult responsibilities, even when it meant that she couldn’t take care of her own feelings.

Then, when her family kept moving to new towns because of financial situations, life started to feel unmanageable. They struggled to have enough food and Lexi’s emotional needs took a back seat to hunger and physical needs. On top of all that, COVID-19 and virtual classes caused her to struggle in school because of confusing technology and lack of one-on-one support. 

“Lexi has a giving heart and is an incredible example of someone who is working hard to break through barriers presented in her life.” — Ali Jennings, CIS of Catoosa County Site Coordinator

One day she was connected to Ali Jennings, a Communities In Schools of Catoosa County site coordinator in Lexi’s school, Together, they worked on learning to talk about strong feelings, safe ways to manage stress, and self care. As their relationship grew, Lexi started to open up to Ali, sharing about all the obstacles going on in her life, including hardships her family faced that were growing as a result of the pandemic.

Ali went beyond the classroom to help Lexi and her family.

And Lexi took charge of her story. Ali often made up activities for the whole family to do together, like when she put Easter eggs in their yard so they could have an egg hunt. She brought food, love, and community resources to make chaotic times easier to navigate. She also provided safe spaces like the Student Success Center and additional self-care resources that empowered Lexi to have a healthy outlook on her mental health and reengage with learning.

Having a trusting relationship with a caring adult changed Lexi’s attitude towards school from dread, to looking forward to her classes and feeling motivated to focus on learning. Lexi says that her favorite part of being a CIS student is getting to talk to Ali and hang out in the Student Success Center. 

She continues to move forward with a giving heart, always helping in the Student Success Center, and doesn't let anything hold her back from achieving high grades.
 

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