Closing Speech at the 2024 CTC Breakfast

written and shared by Dr. Ruby C. Scroggins

Growing up as a child, I hated school.

I grew up with dysfunction and school was not a safe or loving space for me.

When I was in middle school, my English teacher at Dr. Joseph Samuel Clark (JS Clark) told me that I would never be anything.

Years later, a retired Navy man packed his sea bags and came to Caddo as Superintendent of Caddo Schools. Guess who he appointed as principal of the newly renovated middle school that would now become an elementary school and would continue to be named JS Clark?  Me!   I said, Lord, I see you!

Until you sit in the chair as a principal, you really don’t realize that reading, writing, and arithmetic may require in some cases, additional supports to ensure success and mastery in those subjects.

The needs of my children in the same community where I grew up were staring me in the face.

Hunger, mental illness, physical needs and everyday necessities.

Things that we sometimes take for granted.   Such as appropriate clothing as it relates to our weather conditions, clean underwear, medical care on site to ensure children remain in school instead of having chronic absences, just to name a few.

I didn’t know where to start or where to turn.

Then I had a meeting with the current Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent, Dr. Goree, along with Chris Gabriel, Carolyn Hammond, and Chuck Meehan.

My stress level was greatly improved.

Volunteers of America partnered with the district to pilot Communities In Schools at JS Clark.

The motto for CIS is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

The support from tutors, who also served as mentors, were diligent in their presence by working twice a week in classrooms with teachers.

They would work with individual students and small groups of children on academics and foster great relationships as well.

Additionally, Volunteers of America provided Mental Health professionals, which were housed on our campus daily and worked hand in hand with our single school counselor who had more than 830 students with varied needs.

Meaningful after-school studies were also provided, in addition to cultural exposure and learning experiences outside of the classroom.

The data are very clear.

Even today, 10 years later, the data shows an overall increase in attendance at all CIS sites, which means a decrease in truancy; a decrease in behavior problems, and a visible increase in academic success.

Just what if Volunteers of America and all the supporters of this Church without Walls, were able to provide this support and services to every person.  What if we, everyone in this ballroom, specifically and diligently practiced being a Church without Walls in our community, just how much more beautiful could our service to others become in our city.

I would like to end with a quote from the poem: A Creed written by Edwin Markham.

I would often hear this quote as a child and in my adulthood from Pastor Brady L. Blade, Sr., and it reads: “There is a destiny which makes us brothers.  No man goes his way alone.  All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own.

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