The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed as speakers both Nassau County School Superintendent Dr. John Ruis, and Susan Milana, executive director of Communities in Schools. The two talked to the club about the very successful 20-year partnership between the Nassau County School District and Communities in Schools (CIS). Dr. Ruis emphasized that CIS has been an integral part of student success in Nassau County since 1993 – assisting many students in difficult situations who might have otherwise dropped out of school. Milana added that CIS’s primary goal is to better prepare teenagers – beginning as early as the sixth grade – to achieve educational success and be better prepared for their futures. She noted that CIS relies heavily on volunteers to work with students and that 35 to 40 percent of CIS’s funding comes from donations. She reported that CIS has served more than 5,000 students who are facing difficulties at home, are academically challenged or have behavioral issues. CIS surrounds these kids with a community of support to provide one-on-one mentors or tutors, offer life-skills coaching and support the kids in any way they need. She closed by saying that through constant coaching, monitoring, measuring and positive reinforcement, 97 percent of CIS case-managed students stay in school, 76 percent show improved behavior and 98 percent graduate from high school. CIS’s motto is “We never give up and we will always find a way to serve the needs of our students.”