Rocky Mount, NC,
08:00 AM

Delilah 2, Bullying 0

Communities in Schools is a support team for success

Walking down the hallway was always a challenge for sixth-grader Delilah Jones. Locker doors slamming, snickers emerging from a group in the corner. Delilah felt like the loneliest girl in the world. School was a nightmare.

That was just the walk to class. Once the door closed and Delilah was face-to-face with her peers, the up-close-and-personal bullying began. People made fun of the way Delilah dressed, talked and wore her hair. They punched, name-called and quickly contributed to her crumbling self-esteem.

On the days she could stand to stay in class, she was too distracted to focus. When the day seemed too much to face, Delilah pretended to be sick, missing days of school.

Soon, her grades tumbled, and she was failing her classes. Bullying was stealing more than Delilah’s confidence — it was stealing her education and her childhood.

Turning things around

At this point, Delilah needed a really good reason to keep going to school. She didn’t know it yet, but she needed to meet Ms. Edith Penny, a program coordinator with Communities In Schools of the Rocky Mount Region.

“That time was a really tough time for me…it was to a point where I didn’t want to come to school at all,” Delilah said. “I don’t know how I passed the sixth grade. I thank CIS for getting me past that.”

Identifying and removing barriers for students is part of the job for CIS. Students receive an individualized student support plan to target academic and non-academic barriers that are impacting attendance, behavior and coursework.

For Delilah, CIS stepped in to help with attendance and coursework. Ms. Penny helped Delilah in the classes she was failing, and got her removed from the bullying environment. Attendance was improving, and so were Delilah’s grades.

“The following year, everything was different. I was around a different group of students,” said Delilah Jones. “I was part of CIS.”

A new year, a brighter future

With her new support system, Delilah began to see a bright future she could call her own. CIS helped her explore different career opportunities and showed her college was a real option.

Today, she is a graduate of East Carolina University and walks down a different hallway as a confident young woman shaping the lives of today’s youth. Since February 2016, Delilah is a teacher’s assistant at Tar River Academy.

She works with students who have fallen behind in their coursework and are overcoming behavioral issues. Delilah knows they can reach their full potential — because she did.

“I have relationships with the students to the point they come to me when they have a problem or are having a bad day and just need someone to talk to,” she said.

As the middle school memories begin to fade, Delilah wants to be present in her students’ lives and help them get through the tough times. “I just remember Ms. Penny always being there.”

Delilah empathizes with today’s students who deal with cyberbullying. She has words of encouragement, “Know you’re not alone and you have a support system.”

“Across our state, you will find gaps where students lack access to the help they need to achieve their full potential,” said State Farm Sales Leader and Communities in Schools NC Board Member, Andy Shoffner. “State Farm is committed to closing this gap and has joined forces with CIS to expand to more low-performing schools. It is a wise investment.”

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