Sweating my Way through Charlotte, North Carolina


As my sister likes to say, “we’ve got excellent pores in our family.” By “excellent” she means to say that our pores open up and leak like the Titanic. One time, way back when I was teaching at the University of Portland, I didn’t let enough time pass between playing noon-time basketball and lecturing in an Introductory Psychology class and ended up sweating so much that my glasses fogged up.

And so you can imagine how much my pores enjoyed being in Charlotte, NC in August.

When I showed up at the Ice Cream Social on Tuesday evening I was sweating so much that I was sure everyone was thinking, “Great. It’s the night before he’s scheduled to speak and our keynote for Wednesday morning is ALREADY having a panic attack.” [It’s funny how self-consciousness about something like sweating can suddenly turn on my psychic powers, because I’m pretty sure I was able to accurately read everyone’s mind at that Ice Cream Social.] But really, it wasn’t that terrible because I only had to retreat to my room to change my shirt once during the 20 minutes I spent at the Ice Cream Social.

Note to self: When visiting high humidity regions, always pack clothing that doesn’t accentuate my excellent sweating ability of my pores.

But the real point of this blog post isn’t my personal struggle with perspiration—despite the fact that writing about my sweating is, I’m sure, intrinsically interesting as well as cathartic and desensitizing. The real point is to do some flat out bragging about the Communities In Schools of North Carolina (CIS-NC) programs.

If you don’t know about the Communities in Schools organization, you should. In North Carolina this organization includes an amazing staff with boundless positive energy that they direct toward dropout prevention. If you click on the link to their organization you’ll find a cool website with excellent information http://www.cisnc.org/. Here’s their mission statement:

The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. We are part of the national Communities In Schools network, which is the leading dropout prevention organization in the country, and the only such organization that is proven to decrease the dropout rate and increase on-time graduation rates.

I have to admit that before I arrived in Charlotte, I was skeptical about their claims of being “the only organization proven to decrease the dropout rate and increase on-time graduation rates.” This skepticism came from two sources: (1) decreasing drop-out rates is just extremely difficult for everyone, and (2) I’m skeptical about everything. But, after being with the ABSOLUTELY AMAZING administration and staff of CIS-NC for only a few hours, it was clear to me how and why they’re able to help students succeed. Here are a few things I learned.

  • Not only is the staff positive, energetic, and funny, they’re also smart, savvy, and fully dedicated to improving the lives of young people.
  • They utilize a rational balance of evidence-based approaches in combination with approaches that are designed to meet the unique needs of individual schools, staff, students, and settings.
  • They operate using the “5 Basics of Communities in Schools.” These common sense AND evidence-based principles include:
  1. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
  2. A safe place to learn and grow.
  3. A healthy start and a healthy future.
  4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation.
  5. A chance to give back to peers and community.

In addition to all that, I learned that their staff is sensitive, supportive, and compassionate. After all, when I delivered the keynote, they nodded and smiled (showing their listening skills), laughed at all of my jokes at exactly the right time (laughing with special vigor when I did my exorcist voice), and gave me lots of positive feedback for the rest of the morning.

Now it’s up to me to determine if they were just being especially kind to their sweaty keynote speaker or whether they really enjoyed the presentations. I’m hoping for the latter.

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