COMMUNITY GEM: Ashley Bass is helping Dayton kids meet their needs with Communities in Schools

A Dayton woman is helping kids meet their needs in school working as a coordinator through Communities in Schools, a nonprofit connecting students with additional supports to help them learn, advance in grade level, and graduate.

Ashley Bass was nominated as a Dayton Community Gem for making a difference in the Dayton community through her work as a Communities in Schools senior site coordinator at Emerson Academy, a National Heritage Academy and charter school in Dayton.

“We case manage at-risk youth and help families bridge that gap of needs that might be missing in between school and home,” Bass said.

Those needs can range from basic needs to social emotional learning, or even just some extra attention in the classroom.

“Sometimes kids need just a little one-on-one support,” Bass said. “My goal is just to go out, meet those needs, and meet the kids where they are so that the only thing they have to worry about and focus on in the school is being in school and being a kid.”

Bass previously worked as a teacher, but she felt she wasn’t able to always help her students fulfill their needs in that role.

“I couldn’t really help my kids the way I wanted to when I saw a need sometimes due to like fraternization policies, things of that nature, so I couldn’t really be as flexible with helping with them either,” Bass said.

After working with Communities in Schools for four years, Bass has seen a number of her students come out of their shells, gain self-esteem, and seek out new experiences.

“I have seen students believe in themselves. Some of my students coming in had low self esteem, especially during that COVID era where they were secluded at home, so they had not really been able to socialize,” Bass said. “Some of their social awareness went down, some of their self-awareness went down, so to be able to see kids like come out their shells and explore their options or show them things outside of experiences that they would normally get, outside of the city‚ that’s probably been one of the most rewarding things.”

Bass’ colleagues at Communities in Schools, including Hannah Booth, regional director of programs and partnerships for Southwestern Ohio, and Zoe Van Dyke, director of development, nominated Bass as a Dayton Community Gem.

“Ashley always has a can-do attitude and positive, uplifting spirit,” they said. “She has a knack for bringing people together to work for the common good with a great sense of humor. Her ability to forge community partnerships across the Miami Valley has supported CIS of Ohio’s students, their families, and the surrounding communities in the Dayton area.”

Bass also serves on the boards of two different organizations, the Dayton African American Cultural Festival and Faith Freedom Life.

Bass is motivated by her church background, she said, and she currently attends Freedom Faith Missionary Baptist Church.

“Serving others has always brought me joy, so I feel like I’m living in my purpose,” Bass said.

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