Student Support Coordinator, Communities In Schools
LaChelle Nichols is a native of Kansas City. She graduated from Lincoln College Prep Academy and then went on to graduate with B.S. in Industrial Technology from Virginia State University. She holds a M.S. in Adult Education with a concentration in Higher Education from North Carolina A & T State University. Nichols has spent the past eight years helping young people prepare for life after high school. She has worked with the federal TRIO Programs- Upward Bound and Talent Search where she helped navigate students to the college application process, FAFSA and college scholarship applications. She is currently the Student Support Coordinator for Communities In Schools of Mid-America at Southeast High School. She also is the Head Track Coach and Head Dance Team coach at Southeast High School.
How did you come to work with Communities In Schools? What drew you to the work, and what does it mean to serve our schools through this organization?
When I lived in North Carolina, I worked for the TRIO Program Talent Search with a local middle and High School. It was in that role that I was introduced to Communities In Schools and worked very closely with their Site Coordinator in both buildings. Upon moving back to Kansas City, I saw a position open for a high school in the very district I graduated from. I just knew I had to apply! I am very big on being a change agent in my community no matter where I live. The opportunity to work with students in the same district I graduated from sounded like the perfect fit for me. Four years later and it still is the perfect fit for me! It means so much to me to be able to serve my students and their families as CIS. Since I am in the building 100 percent of the time, I get to build relationships with families, students, teachers, and staff and really advocate in times that others may not be able to. I can meet students right where they are and give that extra attention they may need!
How have you seen schools rise to meet the needs of students over the last year?
As Student Support Coordinators, formerly known as Site Coordinators, we hit the ground running during COVID. We were standing in the gaps in so many spaces and places. I remember having to get creative on how I interacted with my students. I also was hitting the streets, delivering food, school supplies, picking up broken laptops and taking them to the BOE to get fixed, picking up hotspots and delivering goody bags to students’ doorsteps to keep them motivated! I think my colleagues and I adopted the #ByAnyMeansNecessary mindset!
What is the importance of programs like Communities In Schools to students that may need extra resources? What role do programs like these play for the student?
It is very important to have programs such as CIS! I know at my school alone, having a extra person there 100 percent of the time to help take some of the load off of our counselors, teachers and social workers has made a difference. We can really get to the root of issues and do what we can to eliminate those barriers for our students.
What makes you most proud of your career so far?
Wow! There is so much I could say that I am proud of! But, honestly watching those Scholars cross the stage and graduate. Then have them running up to you take pictures with them after graduation. Many of my Scholars have some heavy stories. To see them smiling because they “MADE IT” is always the highlight of the year. Simply knowing that for a short period of time in their lives, no matter how much or little I worked with them, I made a difference is always a proud and inspiring moment!
What can we expect from Communities In Schools in the future?
For us to continue to be #AllinforKids! Being all in for kids looks different at every school we serve. However, for me, I will continue to serve my students and community. I will be a role model to our young scholars and be the Ms. Nichols they know and love!