American Graduate Champion: Sarah Shaney

KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

2015_sarah_shaney_photo1Today’s Champion is Sarah Shaney! Sarah works as a CIS Program Manager at Eastside Memorial High School. Her nomination letter from the community said, “Sarah is an American Graduate Champion because she does whatever it takes to help her students, from providing basic needs assistance and individual and group sessions, to success coaching to help her students stay on track with their academic goals. Sarah’s work demonstrates that meeting students where they are, taking the time to listen and understand, and tailoring the support offered to the unique circumstances of the student really can keep students from dropping out, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.”

The Communities In Schools program at Eastside Memorial is managed by Sarah and serves 115 students. During her first year at Eastside Memorial, Sarah implemented a success coaching program at Eastside. Eighty students on Sarah’s 2014-15 caseload received success coaching three times during the school year. Volunteers met individually with students under Sarah’s direction, working with students to talk about GPAs, grades, college and career plans, and to check on progress toward meeting their goals. Sarah helps to provide students on campus with new ways to cope with stress including round-table discussion groups and a peer-to-peer mental health educator program. Sarah believes in advocating for her students both on campus and in the community. During the Texas Legislative Session earlier this year, Sarah and a group of CIS students visited the capital to talk directly to representatives about the realities of student life and the importance of CIS services. It was a great opportunity for students to be part of the conversation and Sarah really shined talking passionately about her students and her work. At a campus visit to Eastside in the spring of 2015, one of the students Sarah works with told CIS that he was planning to drop out of school because he struggled to juggle two jobs and school but that Sarah had helped him rearrange his schedule and set goals so he could stay enrolled. He said that thanks to Sarah, he would not only graduate from high school but that he also planned to apply to college next year.

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.