Beverly joined the CIS Durham team in 2013 as the executive director. She shares CIS's passion for helping children and families navigate the many challenges presented by today's landscape, empowering youth to stay in school and achieve in life. Coming up on her one-year anniversary, Beverly is proud of all the ways CIS Durham has grown, more than doubling the schools it serves with Graduation/Success Coaches and launching a new elementary school model. Beverly shares what keeps her motivated and how educators have touched her life in a Q&A:
What brought you to CIS of Durham?
For many years, I've admired the Communities in Schools model and have partnered with CIS affiliates in both North Carolina and Florida. Great work is happening in the lives of our youth because of CIS!
The opportunity to lead the CIS of Durham team was especially exciting to me. Durham is a wonderful community and the board and staff here are exceptionally strong. One of my favorite quotes from President Theodore Roosevelt states, "Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is to work hard at work worth doing." CIS of Durham's work is certainly worth doing—our young people are so bright and capable, they deserve every chance to follow their dreams and experience success. The chance to work with a talented, passionate team, dedicated to changing the picture for Durham's youth is a dream job for me and I am proud to be part of this team and this community.
What achievements are you most proud of coming up on your one year?
We have much to be proud of this year! In 2014 we expanded our Graduation/Success Coach Program from 4 schools to serving students in 9 schools and introduced a new, elementary school model. Our READS team continues its important work preventing summer reading loss and our Incredible Years team is building stronger families and supporting young teachers. I am proud that we served over 4,500 students last year and that we are on track to work with over 6,000 students this school year across Durham County. I am proud to be part of the Durham Community that values our work and the people we serve. Most of all, I am proud of the highly skilled and highly motivated group of people who make up the CIS of Durham team. Every day they work with a strong vision and sense of urgency to serve our students and our families.
What keeps you motivated on the job?
The greatest motivation for me is knowing that the work we do matters, that in some small way (and sometimes in great big ways) our work is helping people in our community. Whether it’s helping a student learn to set goals and tap into his potential or supporting a parent who is struggling to balance work and family in our fast-paced world, the CIS of Durham team is making an impact. On those days when I need a little extra motivation, a visit to one of our programs keeps me grounded and focused on the work still to be done and the people who are counting on us.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
When we have a free day, my husband, Bruce, and I love to take our dog Allie to the mountains for a long hike and a picnic. It's one of my favorite ways to relax, enjoy the beauty of the world around us, and reconnect with the things that matter most. My husband is also a football coach so I spend quite a bit of time in the summer and fall at the stadium cheering on his high-school team.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten from an educator?
Over the years, I've been blessed by many wonderful teachers whose advice and lessons still inspire me daily. My advisor in college once refused to grade one of my papers. Instead, she returned it to me saying, "This is ok for the average student but average should never be your goal. You can do better—try again and this time, give me your best." At the time, I remember feeling frustrated at having to rewrite the paper. It was meaningful, though, that she saw potential in my work and demanded my best effort. When days are long and there is more work to be done than there is time to do it, I remember her challenge that "average should never be your goal." It's a great reminder to dig a little deeper and never to settle for second best.
My husband, the Coach, is also a long-time educator and retired English teacher. He carries a slip of paper in his wallet with two words: "Ancora Imparo." Most often attributed to Michelangelo, these words translate to "Still, I learn." He carries this in his wallet to remind him to always be open and alert, that the world has much to share with the person who is willing to be taught. This has to be one of the best pieces of advice I've encountered and he shares it by living it. Perhaps this is the greatest lesson of all: Teaching is most effective when it's modeled. Now, if he could just learn to fold the towels!