Angelita Aguilar: The Champ You Want at Your Side

Angelita Aguilar (center) with Principal Valerie Boggan (right) and CIS Site Coordinator Deborah Yarbrough (left).
Angelita Aguilar (center) with Principal Valerie Boggan (right) and CIS Site Coordinator Deborah Yarbrough (left).

Today we highlight Angelita Aguilar, one of seven school and community partners honored with a 2016 Champ Award. Her award was sponsored by State Farm and CIS Board member Namita Sharma presented the award.

If you found yourself on a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight, encircled by hungry sharks—did I mention your boat is leaking?—this Champ is who you want at your side.20160517-_DSC8174

As Dean of Students for Kalamazoo Central High School, Angelita Aguilar is a calm, rock solid person others turn to for support and guidance. Approach her office and you just might encounter this common scenario: the phone ringing, several staff seeking her input, a parent waiting to ask a question, a student approaching, looking for guidance. Angelita is at the center of it all. You’ll recognize her by her attitude, always one of “How can I help? What more can I do?” You’ll also recognize her by her ears. They are the ones turned up full-volume to listen.

Angelita, her very name means messenger, angel. She lives up to her name.  She’s a down-to-earth, no-nonsense kind of person who has shrugged off her wings and hangs with students succeeding and students struggling.

She advocates tirelessly for what works for kids. Because she understands the CIS mission, she empowers students to take full advantage of the community supports and resources CIS offers at Kalamazoo Central High School.

Too often, in this noisy world, messages aren’t always received, but when Angelita speaks, kids and grownups alike listen to what she has to say.

At a parent advisory meeting, Angelita stood up and talked about the Communities In Schools’ approach and how she couldn’t imagine a Kalamazoo Central without CIS. A parent at that meeting was so inspired that, after that, she called Kalamazoo Central’s CIS Site Coordinator, Deborah Yarbrough. “I thought I knew about CIS,” said the parent. “But, Ms. Aguilar, she really knows and connected the dots for us. She explained all the supports you bring into the school. Now I want to be part of CIS. What can I do to help?”

Deborah says, “Angelita’s office is always available to assist students I’m working with. I’ll walk into her office with a student that has given up—and when we leave, these students have an academic plan and a sense of hope. I can’t imagine Kalamazoo Public Schools or Communities In Schools without her.”

We can’t either.

Angelita Aguilar, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life. 

 

Angelita Aguilar (center) with Namita Sharma and State Farm.
Kalamazoo Central High School Dean of Students Angelita Aguilar (center) with CIS Board Member Namita Sharma and State Farm Insurance Agent Ryan Smeader.

 

 

Patti Petersen

photo 1Today we highlight Patti Petersen who was recently honored at the sixth annual Champ Celebration.  (This is the fourth installment of a nine part series.)

During the week of Caring, CIS, KPS staff and students join together in a community wide service project organized by Kalamazoo Central. Patti Petersen’s meticulous office quickly becomes Grand Central Station. Patti is at the center, greeting students, community partners and CIS staff as donations pour in. In the midst of all this traffic, she is smiling. As lead secretary for a high school that is even larger than Mancelona, Michigan, Patti’s organizational skills benefit more than just the Kalamazoo Central Principal.

She is also one of the key ingredients to our success. “Patti grasps the CIS mission,” says Artrella Cohn, Director of Secondary Sites. “She is the CIS to our CIS as she does everything in her power to help us and our partners get to that next step. She is a barrier buster and our go-to-gal. She is that ray of sunshine and even on the most trying of days can put everything in perspective. Her attitude is always one of “How can I help? What more can I do?”

We are all on this journey together—KPS, CIS and our community partners to give our students a better education and it just wouldn’t be the same without Patti Petersen at the station.

Patti Petersen, we thank you for helping students stay in school and achieve in life.

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Moore Than Ever

Lori Moore with Arcadia Elementary Principal, Greg Socha.
Lori Moore with Arcadia Elementary Principal, Greg Socha at Champs.

Today we feature Lori Moore, one of the 2013 award winners recently honored at the sixth annual Champ Celebration. CIS Board Member, Jeff Patton, who is also CEO of Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services presented the Champ Awards. (Installment 2 of a 9 part series. You can read the first one here.)

What more can I do? This is the question Lori Moore posed to herself and CIS Executive Director, Pam Kingery, after being inspired by the work of others after attending last year’s Champs celebration. Pam pointed out that since 2005, she has been lending her celebrity status to elevate awareness of the important work the community is doing through CIS. Proceeds from the sale of her popular Potluck Pals holiday cookbook have benefited CIS, as well as many other great non-profit organizations that are CIS partners. She uses her Lori Moore Show as a platform to elevate the visibility of needs we have identified—particularly the need for volunteer tutors—as well as the important work the community is doing through Communities In Schools. She has warmly welcomed into her studio our CIS partners, volunteers, Site Coordinators, Directors, and Kalamazoo Public School students.

“Still, what more can I do?” she asked. And thus, in the fall of 2012, the Lori Moore Corps was born when she reached out through the air waves and recruited some of her faithful listeners. “So far, we have placed 23 of Lori’s fans as individual volunteers throughout the schools,” says Carly Wiggins, Director of Volunteer Services. “I couldn’t imagine doing my job without her!”

IMG_1115On Tuesdays, now, after her morning has started at 3:50a.m. and when her radio work is done and she has slipped out of range of WKZO listeners, you’ll find her in Arcadia Elementary School’s library surrounded by seven 4th graders. Over lunch, the children check out books and eagerly discuss what they have been reading. They weren’t surprised to hear that their “Miss Lori” was getting a Champ award. “Youshould give her an award,” says one, “because she lets us have fun with books and we are all reading way more than we used to.” Miss Lori, they will tell you, is funny, nice, great, goofy, understanding, smart, sarcastic, a grown up with a good sense of humor. High praise coming from a bunch of fourth graders. One student pointed out that reading more is making her want to write more. Another echoed similar thoughts. “I’m getting higher grades in my writing and my parents were real glad they came to conferences this year.”

Jayce sums it up well. “I’m just so grateful to be one of the kids in her bookclub. That she takes time out of her day to be with us is really special.”

Lori Moore, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.