Today we highlight Leroy Green, one of eight individuals and organizations honored at the annual Champ Celebration. CIS Board Member Susan Einspahr, along with Artrella Cohn, CIS Director of Secondary Sites, presented the award.
When CIS was in its infancy, working in just six Kalamazoo Public Schools, this next Champ was at our side. As a behavior specialist for KPS, it wasn’t in Leroy Green’s job description to volunteer his time to help us engage parents through strategies such as hosting special family math night events. And yet, after a long day, Leroy was cooking up some mean spaghetti and serving it at family math nights. His steady presence gave us credibility with both children and their families. He helped plant the seeds of success for an organization that would one day be in 20 KPS buildings. That was fourteen years ago.
Years even before that, when Dalanna Hoskins was a 3rd grade student at Woods Lake, she recalls one day in particular: “It was gym day. I loved gym. But I wasn’t going to be able to participate—I was wearing my church shoes and had forgotten my tennis shoes. I wasn’t one of Mr. Green’s kids—my behavior was great—but I went down to his office anyway.” She knocked on his door and immediately became one of his kids. “He dug around and gave me a pair of the ugliest tennis shoes I’ve ever seen. I wore size 2 and these were size 5. But I got to play in gym that day because of Mr. Green. He was CIS before there was CIS.”
It’s funny how the world works. Today, Leroy can be found at Milwood Elementary. In many ways, nothing has changed. Leroy is still committed to kids and families and helping students who need behavior support. He, like teachers, is often the first to identify additional needs that students have—something beyond behavior that is getting in the way of their learning. What’s different now, is that he doesn’t have to spend time cobbling together these resources. He turns to the CIS Site Coordinator in his building, Dalanna Hoskins, the very woman whose day he brightened all those years ago with an ugly pair of tennis shoes.
“He is exactly the same,” says Dalanna. “He still cares about kids and knows all of their names.” She, like all of us, is grateful to have him in our CIS family. Kids are the real winners because the community is providing resources through CIS, allowing Leroy to devote more of his time doing what he does best: building relationships with kids and their families to promote and grow positive behaviors.
At the end of a long school day, when he could be packing up to head home, Leroy has been known to get on the school bus with a student who has been struggling, to be a calming presence so that their next day will be a little better. “You learn a lot about where kids are coming from when you ride their bus routes,” Leroy says. He sees the whole child, knows a student’s life doesn’t stop when the last school bell rings. We also know this: You learn a lot about a man when you see him decade after decade showing up for kids. Whether you call him a Behavior Specialist, Bus Whisperer, or Spaghetti Wrangler, Leroy is first and foremost a specialist of the heart when it comes to kids and their families.
Leroy Green, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.