Two Students Savor the Season

Today, we’re grateful for Kalamazoo Public School students like Wesley and Lexi, who take in this season of thanks through all their senses. Both are third graders at King-Westwood Elementary School and are just beginning to write poetry with their teacher, Mrs. Laura McCoy. Their poems remind us that it is good to slow down and pay attention to the world around us.

Fall

I see leaves changing colors in the fall,
I smell all the delicious pies people make,
I hear most birds chirping on fall days,
I taste homemade Mac n’ cheese my mom makes,
I touch plates to eat my food in the holidays,
This is what it’s like in fall.
-Wesley

The Fall of the Year

Fall is near at last,
I see leaves falling,
I smell fresh caramel apples or apple pie,
I hear leaves crunching as I walk,
I taste the yummy pumpkin bread,
I like walking on the crunchy leaves,
Fall is now done……………..
-Lexi

Thank you, Wesley and Lexi, for sharing your poetry with us!

single-leaf

Pop Quiz: Dominique Jackson

dominique-jackson-internWelcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Dominique Jackson.

One of ten terrific interns working with CIS, Dominique graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 2012. A Promise Scholar, Dominique went on to Michigan State University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. “I was the first generation in my family to graduate from a four year university,” she says. She is currently working on her Masters in Social Work at Western Michigan University.

As a social work intern, Dominique works closely with her CIS site team at Linden Grove Middle School. “It’s great learning from [CIS Site Coordinator] Ms. [Tamiko] Garrett and [CIS After School Coordinator] Ms. [Jenee] McDaniel. And the KPS staff is awesome! They’ve all welcomed me and so it’s been a smooth transition coming in as an intern.”

Alright, Ms. Jackson: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

In some European countries, such as Norway, college is completely free. I didn’t know that.

Favorite word?

I have so many, it’s hard to say. Right now, I’d say strength. That’s what I need right now to get through this year, with working at Gilden Woods Early Childcare & Preschool, going to school, and doing my internship.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Always by Nina Lane. I really liked it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m still trying to decide, but I’m leaning towards doing social work in schools. Or, possibly, working with juveniles. This would tie in with my degree and I do like the thought of getting juveniles on the right track.

Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who is your caring adult?

My mom, for sure. She’s the one that’s always been there, motivating me and pushing me to do well.

Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?

Mrs. [Ruth] Schafer. She was my fifth grade teacher at Arcadia. She was very engaging, helpful, and pushed us to do better. She was hard on us while still showing her love and support. She was amazing and I loved her.

Also, Mrs. [Elaine] Sayre, my AP [Advanced Placement] Language teacher. I had her my senior year at Kalamazoo Central. Mrs. Sayre helped me think and really prepared me for college and the higher level of work that was expected of me. I have to also definitely say Principal Von Washington. When I was at Kalamazoo Central, he was just an awesome principal. He was always checking up on students to make sure they were doing okay. Oh, and Mr. [Ramon] Baca. He was my principal when I was at Arcadia and he was great too. I loved Mr. Baca.

As you know, Von Washington Jr. is now the Executive Director of Community Relations for The Kalamazoo Promise. What’s it like to be a Promise Scholar who is now giving back within the very school district she graduated from?

It’s definitely awesome to come full circle. I come from a single parent household and I didn’t know college would be possible for me, so getting the opportunity to go to college by the generosity of strangers is an amazing gift.

Right now, my younger brother is at Michigan State. He was eligible to receive 100% of The Promise as well. And I have a much younger brother at Arcadia who will be a Promise Scholar one day.

What do you do as a CIS intern at Linden Grove Middle School?

As a CIS intern, I check in with kids about their grades. I make sure they have everything they need, whether it’s school supplies or personal care items, whatever they are going to need to enhance their school performance. I also make sure they are getting their homework done while still having fun with them as well.

I really love working with Ms. [Tamiko] Garrett and Ms. [Jenee] McDaniel. They’re awesome, engaging, supportive, and not afraid to challenge me, which I love because I love learning!

What is something you are learning when it comes to your internship?

Every kid is different. You have to tailor your approach to their needs as much as you can, make sure they are being recognized individually. One strategy you use for one kid many not work for another, but that’s okay. You find the one that works.

Thank you, Dominique!

 

The Dolly That Mike Made

Anyone who sets foot in a school knows that the role of a custodian is vital to the health and climate of a school. At Milwood Elementary School, students, their parents, along with KPS and CIS staff, and every community partner and volunteer who serves Milwood Elementary, is better because of Mike McCurdie. CIS Project Manager Missy Best says, “As Milwood’s wonderful custodial staff person, Mike has also really gone above and beyond to do things for CIS.”

Milwood’s CIS Site Coordinator, Dalanna Hoskins, agrees. She tells us Mike embraces his work as a custodian, going above and beyond to assure that the learning environment is ready every day for children. “Every now and then I bring him coffee, or free coffee coupons to let him know much we appreciate his help,” she says. And today, as guest blogger, Dalanna Hoskins shines the spotlight on one of her favorite custodian and tells us how other schools will soon benefit from Mike’s ingenuity.

“Mr. Mike” is what I call him. Before I even set foot in Milwood, Mr. Mike was supporting CIS staff, volunteers, and partners. For more than a decade, Mike McCurdie has served as custodian at Milwood Elementary School. Since the time of Renita Ellis (Milwood’s first CIS After School Coordinator) to now, we know we can count on Mr. Mike. Whenever I need help or assistance with access to the school or unlocking rooms or bringing in boxes of supplies –whether it’s clothes, backpacks, or other basic need items from CIS Kids’ Closet or items from one of our partners, like shoes from First Day Shoe Fund—Mr. Mike is always there to help me with getting these much needed resources into the school for our kids.

Most of you are probably familiar with the Friday Food pack program that exists throughout many of our CIS sites and made possible thanks to our partnership with Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes. It was first piloted right here at Milwood Elementary, back in 2003. We credit our steadfast partner, Milwood Christian Reformed Church, with helping us get this program off the ground. Mr. Mike, too.

From the beginning, he has always there, helping with the food pack deliveries. As the program expanded and the number of food packs grew, Mr. Mike grew tired of always using the huge flat beds for the food packs. They were big, heavy, and cumbersome to wheel around. He knew there just had to be a better way. When, due to renovations, we temporarily moved to the school building on South Westnedge, Mr. Mike realized that the flat beds were not going to work at all. So, he came up with the idea of using wooden scooters instead.

The dolly that Mike made:

The dolly that Mike made

underside view of Dolly

And we have been using them ever since. In fact, it works so well that we are going to recreate his dolly for other CIS sites!

Thank you, Mr. Mike!Dolly made by Mike

Pop Quiz: Montrell Baker  

img_6778Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Montrell Baker. Now in his second year as CIS Site Coordinator for Loy Norrix High School, Montrell serves in the very school he graduated from in  2001! As a young student, Montrell attended Lincoln for kindergarten, Parkwood Upjohn from first through sixth grade, and then Milwood Magnet Middle School. Montrell went on to earn two Master Degrees from Western Michigan University, in Education Leadership and Sport Management. A proud KPS parent of eight-year-old Luke, Montrell works closely with his CIS site team at Loy Norrix to help students stay in school and achieve in life. As he puts it, “You won’t get rich working with youth, but the reward comes from seeing them grow and get better at something. That is payment in itself.”

Alright, Mr. Baker: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

POP QUIZ

What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?

I’ve been researching alkaline diets. I’m learning about consuming more green, leafy vegetables and limiting dairy products and meat consumption.

Favorite word?

I tend to use the word smooth a lot. It fits my personality because I’m quiet and laid back. That’s how I want life to be—smooth.  As in let’s have a smooth transition. Let’s have a smooth day today.

What are you currently reading?

I’m good at starting books but don’t always finish them. Right now I’m reading The 50th Law by 50 Cent. It’s based on a book written by Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power.

Will you finish this one?

I will. My sister got me the book. She’s a big reader and can usually find books that keep my attention.

You graduated from Loy Norrix High School. Thinking back to your years with the Kalamazoo Public Schools, who was one of your favorite teachers?

Three come to mind. Mr. [Derek] Wheaton was my second grade teacher at Parkwood. He was a great, great teacher.  I saw him recently during TJ Duckett’s Turkey Drive and he recognized me, even remembered my first and last name.

Mr. [Adam] Hosler was my math teacher at Norrix. He was knowledgeable, funny and allowed me to be myself in class. Math was my favorite subject. He’d write out his agenda and assignments for the week. When I’d finished all my work, he gave me more. He worked with me and kept my attention. He’s still teaching at Norrix.

Coach Chris Andrews—he’s now Portage Northern’s head baseball coach—he was one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever encountered. He knew how to relate with student athletes, knew how to discipline and keep us on track. We were 8-1 in football. Being a coach now [coaching his son’s team and having coached Linden Grove Middle School girls and boys hoops and football at Kalamazoo Central] I tailor my style after Coach Andrews.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a head coach for varsity football. As I got older, that changed to athletic director/assistant principal.  Now as a Site Coordinator, I have the opportunity to serve in a  leadership capacity, supporting students by overseeing the supports and programs that come through our school-based program. I really enjoy working with the youth.

Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who is your caring adult?

Two. My mom and my grandad. My mom she always instilled in my sister and me early on to be a leader and not a follower. Always give your best and work hard. Let your work speak for you. You don’t need to be much of a talker. Let your actions speak for you. My mom’s always there for moral support. When I was younger, she was there at 95% of my school and sporting events, cheering me on.

My grandfather, Les Owens, instilled discipline in me, taught me that once I start something I have to finish it. Don’t quit. Be a man of your word. Be a man of confidence. I looked up to him as a kid. He was a deacon in the church and he also coached rocket football. Growing up in Northside neighborhood, I’d see all types of people look up to him and come to him for help.

Thank you, Montrell!

 

An Hour A Week: April 2016

March was National Reading Month. We asked our volunteers what they were reading. Check out our blog, Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, to take a look at the responses!

Event Spotlight – Math-A-Lon

IMG_4104On March 30th 3-5th grade students from Edison Environmental Science Academy, Lincoln International Studies School, Milwood Elementary, Spring Valley Center for Exploration, Washington Writers’ Academy, and Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts participated in the first Math-A-Lon, a partnership with Kalamazoo Public Schools. Students competed at the Kalamazoo Public Library for several hours, solving math puzzles and equations to determine who took home the gold trophy.

The following teams placed at the event:

1st- Lincoln International Studies School

2nd- Edison Environmental Science Academy

3rd- Spring Valley Center for Exploration

Congrats to students and staff for participating in such a wonderful event!

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Volunteer Backpack

Volunteer Opportunity

Dia del Niño

El Sol Elementary

604 W Vine St

April 29th

8:30am – 4pm

Dia del Niño is a Mexican holiday, celebrated since 1925, which focuses on the importance of loving, accepting and appreciating children. We need 10 volunteers to assist teachers with hands-on projects going on throughout the day. Lower grade teachers will need the most assistance. Volunteers should dress comfortable, be flexible, and know that this is the funniest day of the year.

Contact Mimi Leake at nleake0901@gmail.com to sign up or call 269-568-1153

 

Upcoming Training

Cultural Competency: Diversity & Inclusion

Saturday, May 21st, 9-11:30am

First Congregational Church

345 W. Michigan Ave.

Explore how our biases shape and impact the relationships we have with the students we serve. Learn how to build empowering and student-led relationships by gaining a more comprehensive understanding of barriers students face.

Contact Kaitlin Martin at kmartin@ciskalamazoo.org to register.

 

Kids’ Closet

Kids’ Closet currently has a need for the following new items:

  • Underwear – children and adult sizes
  • Sweatpants – children and adult sizes
  • Shorts – children and adult sizes
  • Deodorant – men’s and women’s
  • Hand/body lotion – unscented/unisex
  • Feminine hygiene items

To make a donation, please contact Emily Kobza at ekobza@ciskalamazoo.org or 269-337-1601 x205. For more information, go to our website.

See the full version of our volunteer newsletter, An Hour A Week.