All In For Students Award Recipient 2015: The award is presented to site coordinators who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to students. With acts of love and transformation, these Heroes are the best at what they do.
Elizabeth Crumpler realized her calling to work with youth during a summer internship in Kenya. A junior at the time and planning a career as a broadcast journalist, her project was to take photos and document the work at an orphanage. But Crumpler had a revelation while looking through her lens, and it ended up being the shift that changed her career path.
“I knew immediately that I didn't want to be behind the camera,” she said recalling that emotional day. “I wanted to get in there and support the kids, get my hands dirty, connect with them. That’s the moment I decided to go into youth development work.”
Since then, Crumpler has focused her full attention on youth-oriented work and is currently into her second year as the site coordinator at CIS of New Mexico at Salazar Elementary School. Programs she began in just a little over a year have already helped to create a stronger bond with the parents and the students as well as the community.
Crumpler started a community garden, helping to teach students, parents and the community the benefits of harvesting and collecting fruits and vegetables. She arranged for an in-school food pantry and runs a clothing drive to provide basic needs to the student population. And Crumpler started a weekly parent coffee meeting that meets in the school staff lounge. The parents get to ask questions and to see that when it comes to their children’s education, per Crumpler, “We are all on the same page.”
“When I brag about her to my colleagues, it’s because it is much deserved,” said Salazar Principal Georgia Baca. “She’s absolutely, positively committed to the children, families, staff, community. And she does it all from the heart. I could not imagine this school without her.”
With her, the students at Salazar have an additional advocate who works tirelessly to support their needs. When a third-grade student was referred to Crumpler because of excessive absenteeism and poor hygiene, she conducted a home visit to find out exactly what the student was dealing with. She discovered there were 12 family members — five adults and seven, school-aged children — living in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home.
“This was a case of a nine-year-old having to make the choice every day of going to school or staying home to take care of younger siblings,” said Crumpler.
She arranged for family services to help the mother manage at home. She provided hygiene kits and school uniforms for the student and her siblings, and she paired the children with volunteers from Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The young girl, who Crumpler described as ‘bright and capable,’ improved her hygiene and truancy issues and was successfully promoted to the next grade.
It is thanks to Crumpler seeing things differently years ago that she’s able to be a relentless force at CIS of New Mexico, and the critical link in providing resources to students and their families.