Whitewater Middle School
Tamika McPherson has been volunteering with Communities In Schools for over 10 years, since she was a college student at UNC-Charlotte. In college, she wanted to volunteer but not just on campus – she wanted to be “out in the community.” Tamika read about CIS and what the organization was trying to accomplish, and decided this was where she wanted to give her time.
For the past two years, Tamika has been volunteering as a lunch buddy and mentor for a group of girls at Whitewater Middle, but before that she volunteered with CIS at Allenbrook Elementary, Nathaniel Alexander Elementary, and the (fomer) Smith Middle School.
When she was volunteering at Allenbrook, she really connected with a group of 5th grade girls there and decided to “move up” with them when they went to Whitewater Middle School. She has lunch and visits with the students weekly. “I ask them about their classes, their teachers, their grades, and what’s going on with them in general,” says Tamika. “I let them share whatever they like – I want them to be comfortable with opening up and expressing themselves to me.”
Her approach is working – two of the students she mentors mentioned how “Ms. McPherson is a person you can trust and tell your problems to.” Another student said she knows Ms. McPherson really cares because she spends extra time with them outside of school, doing “fun things like going bowling and having a girls sleep-over at a hotel.”
Tamika works at TIAA-CREF as a Business Management Analyst. She does not have any children of her own, but says she loves seeing how CIS really cares about their students’ success and the encouragement they give to ensure it. “I volunteer because it is how I was raised, to reach out and help when and where I can. But most of all, I enjoy it, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”