CSCS is About YOU
Kicia didn’t know what to expect when she enrolled at Clark Street Community School. All she knew for sure was that CSCS gave her the opportunity to continue her passion of working as a Program Leader for Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) after school program as part of her educational plan. While another school balked at the idea of her leaving early everyday to go to “work,” staff at CSCS saw her passion and the power of learning through that experience, allowing her to apply that growth towards graduation.
Besides a chance to add a 'work plan' to her school schedule, Kicia assumed that everything else about school would be the same as before: find a couple friends, tolerate teachers, jump through hoops and ultimately graduate. But from the first day of class, Kicia knew everything about Clark Street was going to be different. The systems were unfamiliar. The teacher interactions were unexpected and ultimately the student body lacked the diversity she had experienced at her previous Madison high school. In response to this, she decided to keep her head down and not draw any attention to herself to avoid any additional discomfort at her new school.
Then one fall afternoon, feeling completely disconnected, invisible and confident in her abilities, Kicia decided that she would rather work independently at home than stay at school where she just didn't believe she could connect. She planned to leave and she thought no one would care.
She was wrong.
“CSCS makes you be honest with yourself about your likes, dislikes and needs.”
Let's back up a step to better understand Kicia leading up to this moment.
Kicia loves to write, but on her own terms. She was excited to hear that there would be writing in all of her CSCS classes, but found herself avoiding the work when the topic wasn’t interesting, either finding a corner to hide in or bluntly shutting down teachers who tried to enthusiastically promote finding new interests.
Over a relatively short time, though, Kicia was drawn in by the CSCS writing process which she saw helped her to become a better writer as she was encouraged to observe the world around her and share her reactions honestly through writing. There were endless opportunities to write and Kicia experimented with narratives, poems and argumentative papers, filling her notebooks with emotions and insights. Teachers worked with her to apply her passions in class and generate writing pieces that met both personal goals and graduation requirements.
That day Kicia tried to leave early, she ended up going to a sandwich shop with a staff member who stopped her on her way out the door. They spent over an hour writing and sharing feedback with each other. That day Kicia realized that even though she quietly tried to blend into the crowd of CSCS students, someone still believed she was special.
Kicia knew that even though she still felt uncomfortable within the community, CSCS was a space where she could talk to people and get help if she needed it; a place that supported her in seeking meaningful ways to take her passions even further than she could have imagined. Through this personalized lens, Kicia found more success completing work even on her least motivated days and willingly engaged in conversations with teachers about how her classes could allow her to continue learning what she wanted to learn.
“I am most proud of how I’ve changed as a person since I started attending CSCS.”
Kicia’s writing is very personal and she is hesitant to share it out with peers and teachers, even when she knows it is good. Even in person, Kicia has been reluctant to share her story due to the judgement and responses she received in the past from both peers and educators. CSCS is starting to break down that wall. (She even agreed to let us share a poem, which you can view below!)
“Everyone talks to everyone” and you are invited to speak your truth without fear of retribution. While Kicia still doesn’t like getting peer feedback on her writing, she is more comfortable sharing and talking with teachers about her work, willing to discuss some of her more personal experiences. Although she was nervous about leaving her friends and attending a school where she worried about sticking out, by being in a space away from the friends she grew up with, Kicia has found even more independence and the ability to make decisions that will benefit her in the long run.
“Here they focus on you as a person first and your work second, always willing to support your needs.”
One of the primary reasons Kicia was initially drawn to CSCS was her ability to leave school early everyday to work for MSCR. She’s passionate about that job because she strives to be the person who is consistently there to motivate and encourage those kids to try new things; be that outside support person she never had growing up. While she intrinsically knew this was critical for her students, CSCS was the first place where she experienced the power of this relationship for herself.
While she’s still not ready to let everyone see her full spirit, Kicia is creating the next chapter of her story at CSCS. Teachers are helping her connect with new ways to share her writing while she tries to narrow down what seems like an endless list of future options. She says, “CSCS makes me want to do everything so I can’t figure out what to do!” Kicia knows that she is destined to make a difference in the world, but isn’t sure if that will be through teaching, writing, social justice work, some combination or something completely different!
Kicia doesn’t mince words, sugarcoat her experiences or share false positivity. She misses her friends, she still feels disconnected at times and her work completion still doesn’t quite reflect her ability, but she believes in the value of her education at CSCS. She appreciates the connections she’s established with her teachers, their recognition of her talents and their efforts to help her grow. Most of all, though, she knows she will be successful even if she hasn’t quite figured out how...yet.
By Kicia Davis
I hate trees but mainly their leaves and their ability to leave because it reminds me too much of my father.
But the more that I speak I no longer weep on the past because I’m unsure of tomorrow
Brittle and broken, scorned and shattered a close description of my heart
you tell me what pain is, it's insane that i’m put together just to fall apart
I love with my eyes closed because at times i'm scared of what’s in front of me
I open my eyes only to realize the person that I am becoming
I know pain all too well that forever I’m stuck with
You can only dream of so many things before you want to reach out and touch it