Communities in School
Jose de Jesus Zamora was first sent to F.S. Lara Academy for two months his freshman year after going to Cigarroa High School. F.S. Lara is "a disciplinary alternative campus," according to the principal's message on F.S. Lara's website from Robert N. Chaney Jr. Sophomore year, he was back again for the whole first semester after another disciplinary issue. But during Zamora's time at F.S. Lara, he received guidance from the local organization Communities in Schools, which offers academic guidance and college preparation services to students, and provides social workers to help them do well. "Our goal is to do whatever it takes for kids to succeed in school," Program Coordinator Sandy Salinas said Communities in Schools has existed for 26 years in Laredo, and serves 24 schools in Webb, Zapata, and Jim Well Counties. It works alongside other United Way organizations to care for the students it serves - such as South Texas Food Bank, which helps the organization maintain a food pantry at Martin High School. The organization also provides case management for 3,266 students through 23 site coordinators, which see about 145 students each.
Zamora's site coordinator is Sandy Villareal. She meets with Zamora every week and gives him advice about various subjects such as employment -she recommends local businesses that are hiring, and gives him applications to fill out. She also gives him gift cards as incentives - to Red Lobster or the movies.
"If I ever had a problem, she'd be the one I would go to," Zamora said.
The organization receives funding from United Way which goes directly to student re-sources - school uni-forms and supplies, college tests like the ACT, glasses for students without insurance, food, hygiene items, shoes, student incentives (like Zamora's gift cards) and local college visitations.
Zamora's currently a junior in high school, and he will continue his involvement with Communities in Schools next year. He says he's thinking about graduating from high school early and joining the army.
Zamora also has a role in spreading the word to other students who could use the services provided by the organization.
"My brothers an in-coming freshman." Zamora said. "I would recommend (Communities in Schools) to him. For more information on Communities in Schools, call the organization at 956-791-2199 or visit its website at www.cislaredo.org.