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Carla Snell (left), Community in Schools coordinator for Huntington High School in Cabell County, was honored by West Virginia first lady Cathy Justice on Thursday.

HUNTINGTON A Cabell County Communities in Schools site coordinator from Huntington High School was honored for her work with the program by West Virginia first lady Cathy Justice on Thursday afternoon.

Carla Snell, who worked as a special education teacher for 13 years, accepted the CIS position when five schools in Cabell County joined the program, supported by the governor and the West Virginia Department of Education, in 2019.

Justice honored Snell’s work with students at HHS by presenting her with the Rhododendron Award, which recognizes individuals in the state who have demonstrated particularly impressive work in the program.

“Carla is a young, vibrant young lady that has a world of energy, and she shows it,” Justice said during the livestream award ceremony. “If anyone cares about children and students, what they do and making them succeed in life, it’s Carla.”

Communities in Schools assists students and families with local resources through a school-based coordinator, helping to address the dropout rate and promote student success — a job Snell said “had her name written all over it.”

“I didn’t even know what Communities in Schools were. It was all new to Cabell County,” Snell said. “When the job came up, I read the description and thought it was just meant for me.”

When the program took off at the start of the 2019 school year, two of Snell’s students visited Justice at the Governor’s Mansion.

“I had a student who needed some dental work done, to the point it could have been cancerous if it wasn’t done quickly. He was 18 years old. We ended up having his teeth pulled, and he ended up getting a beautiful set of dentures. You talk about a boost of confidence — that one did it. He is now in college; he is in his freshman year of college,” Snell said. “I also brought another student to the Governor’s Mansion, and she is also in college now. She’s doing wonderful.”

Snell said the support she’s seen businesses in the community give to students in need is inspiring and thanked the state for supporting the program.

Two other CIS coordinators, from Clay and Wyoming counties, also received the award from Justice.

More information on the program can be found at www.wvde.us/cis.

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.