By Lynette Monroe (Program Assistant, NNPA ESSA Public Awareness Campaign)
Dr. Tiffany G. Tyler is the president and CEO of Communities in Schools (CIS) Nevada. CIS creates school-based strategies for improving the academic outcomes of students by addressing their basic needs. This work centers on helping school leaders understand the needs of their school populations apart from over-simplified ethnic and income categories.
As a former high school dropout, Dr. Tyler used the motivation from the birth of her first son (she said she didn’t want her son to “have a dropout as a mom.”) to propel her to the highest levels of academia, as an education psychologist. While studying for her dissertation, she happened upon a report detailing circumstances that contribute to student dropouts, as well as preventative practices that retain enrollment. She uses her experiences as a former beneficiary of many of the services she now provides to inform her role as chief Advocate.
“Having the benefit of people, over the course of my return to school, who not only encouraged me to continue my education, but helped in many ways, I now have the opportunity to pay it forward every day,” Dr. Tyler said, speaking of her daily motivation to make a difference.
Dr. Tyler said that her primary responsibility is to shepherd the vision and mission of the organization: to provide children with the resources and support they need to not only graduate, but to lead a successful life. Communities in Schools operates in 63 schools in Nevada, including 50 schools in Southern Nevada and the remaining in Washoe and Elko County. An impressive 66,720 K-12 students benefit from the integrated services provided by CIS, yet the need still outweighs access to resources.
Dr. Tyler believes in the power of the work, but also in the power of action. In order to really move the needle on reducing dropout rates she believes we need everyone at the table; not only to discuss the challenges faced, but to also develop a course of action for moving forward. Dr. Tyler is consistently looking to partner with stakeholders and other like-minded organizations to bring more assets to schools. She serves as the co-chair of the Juvenile Justice Services Citizens Advisory Committee in Clark County and maintains board memberships on a number of organizations in the community.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, memorializes integrated support services as a successful practice and allows federal use of resources to be leveraged to provide more resources to communities. For the first time in federal education policy, integrated support services are explicitly noted as an allowable intervention for funding and noted as a strategy that districts and states can employ or use to turn around underperforming schools. ESSA recognizes that family and student support play a key role in improving academic outcomes for students.
Dr. Tyler encourages educators to uphold principles like equity, social justice, and community that transcend any one administration. Principles such as these are at the core of legislation like ESSA. Furthermore, parent engagement is a crucial part in ensuring student success.
Parents should see themselves as partners. Parents should show up and share their vision for their children; what they see as their child’s strengths and how they would like to partner in assisting with their challenges. Parents should advocate for what they perceive are their needs.
Dr. Tyler charges parents to get informed about the policies that directly impact their household and remain consistent in their engagement to ensure staff accountability.
Learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act at www.nnpa.org/essa.
Lynette Monroe is the program assistant for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign and a master’s student at Howard University. Her research areas are public policy and national development. Follow Lynette on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.