November 28, 2023

GivingTuesday at CIS of Kalamazoo

Thank you for your commitment to kids!

This is our fifth year of our team GivingBack on GivingTuesday. Every year on GivingTuesday, we surprise an individual who has gone above and beyond for students in each school building with CIS of Kalamazoo presence.

Each CIS site team has selected a partner staff member who has demonstrated a commitment to working with CIS to help students succeed and making sure students’ needs are met. On this special day, we are delivering a special gift to each person. Check out the descriptions below to learn about the inspiring work being done by school staff.

Arcadia Elementary, Ms. Zimmerman – First Grade Teacher

Ms. Zimmerman truly goes out of her way to see her classroom succeed. She not only has great class management skills helping students with behavior, but she also works hard to ensure students receive mentoring to help with social-emotional skills. She is always planning amazing events to help connect community and families to the school. She pours love and care into her students through educating them, teaching them life skills, reminding them of their abilities and potential, and sharing her passion to see students succeed with staff. She is a role model in the school!

Edison Academy, Joan Baker – First Grade Teacher

Joan Baker has been a teacher at Edison for 12 years, and an educator for 18 years. Her students love her, and they learn a great deal while in her care. Mrs. Baker is a champion for CIS and Edison. She has contributed so many things to our Kids’ Closet, so that our students have what they need here at school. The number of pants she has donated is astounding!

Thank you, Joan, for teaching our students with love, giving them a safe space to be, and ensuring their wellbeing and continued success, academically and in life! We love you Mrs. Baker!

El Sol Elementary, Natalie Wilson – Principal

Dr. Wilson has been a great advocate for Communities In Schools at El Sol. She not only connects teachers to CIS services, but also students and families. Dr. Wilson is dedicated to her students and creating a community with her staff. She has built a culture of understanding and cooperation at El Sol.

Hillside Middle School, April James – Paraprofessional and Lindsay D’Hulster – Seventh Grade math teacher

On any given day you will find Miss April helping student in the “Eagles Nest”, the study skills room, in the hall, or classroom. She is always there for kids. Miss April greets each student with a smile and her positive attitude every day.  She helps kids if they need items from the CIS Kids’ Closet, gives academic support, or is just a friendly face at lunch. Miss April goes above and beyond for the students and her commitment to Hillside never wavers. Thank you, Miss April, for all you do to make Hillside a very special school. 

Lindsay D’Hulster is one of the most caring teachers we have met. She wants every student to succeed, and it shows every day. When CIS site coordinators asked teachers who would like extra support, Ms. D’Hulster is always first to welcome tutors into her classroom for her students. Ms. D’Hulster’s compassion doesn’t stop at the classroom. She has helped families with beds and bedding and donated to the CIS Kids’ Closet. She is devoted to the whole child. We appreciate Ms. D’Hulster and her commitment to the students at Hillside Middle School.  

Kalamazoo Central High School, Kristen Rice – School Secretary

Mrs. Rice is very friendly and helpful to the staff of CIS. She works in the front office and is busy with staff, students and parents, and other work duty tasks, but still makes time to help us help our students! When students come to the front office, Mrs. Rice calls CIS staff to make sure students get where they need to go. She is great to work with.

King-Westwood Elementary, Angel Haggar – Second Grade Teacher

Angel cares deeply for her students and sends them to CIS as she observes their needs. Angel donates to CIS regularly, providing beautiful clothes for our students. Angel works easily with CIS staff so that one-on-ones can happen regularly, with additional visits if needed. Angel makes CIS feel seen and valued in the building. I can’t imagine being in this role without her friendship!

Lincoln Elementary, Dionna Roberts – School Principal

Principal Roberts is in her first year at Lincoln as principal, and we can already see the impact she is making. Her dedication to the students is second to none. She will have students in her office for a time out break. I see her walking down the hall encouraging students. She brings them to CIS when they have basic needs. She teaches classes when there’s no sub for a teacher. She comes to all the Lincoln basketball games, visits partners to provide resources to students and always has a pleasant, engaging attitude while doing it all!

Linden Grove Middle School, Katie Nower – Pod Support

Ms. Katie is new this year and she has been a great advocate for students and their needs. Ms. Katie is a strong supporter of the ISS model and Communities In Schools. Thank you, Ms. Katie!!

Loy Norrix High School, Chris Aguinaga – Principal

Mr. Aguinaga leads with compassion, kindness and support for students, staff, and parents. He is an exemplary professional who is always willing to offer creative solutions, innovative strategies, and a welcoming smile. Mr. Aguinaga always rolls out the red carpet of acceptance, respect, and inclusion for all races, nationalities, and cultures. The Loy Norrix community is fortunate to have him at the helm of our building.

Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts, Loren Matthews – Behavioral Specialist

Mr. Matthews is always supporting CIS by promoting our services to families and looking out for students. Mr. Matthews supports the CIS after school program by providing recommendations of who would be a good fit. Mr. Matthews works endlessly to make sure that Maple Street, as a team, knows about different services that students need and how to implement them.

Milwood Elementary, Mrs. Ginger Cowling – Paraprofessional and Mr. Brock Reynolds – Behavior Specialist

Mrs. C is a very committed and nurturing person of value here at Milwood. All the students love when she is around and enjoy spending time with her. She has been nothing but a genuine help and welcoming spirit since starting here. There is no question that she loves what she does and that she loves the students at Milwood.

Mr. Brock is newer to the building, to the city, but jumped right in and became “hands on”. He is an awesome presence that the students cling to and a show respect. Even though he handles behavior issues, students are comfortable communicating their feelings to him and sharing what’s making them act out. We’ve worked together to assist students many times and he’s very genuine when looking into the needs of the students and Milwood.

Milwood Magnet Middle School, Brenda Richards – Secretary and Stacey Kaczor (Davis) – Lead Secretary

Ms. Richards is always in a helpful positive mood. She is always willing to help CIS staff in any way she can. If she is not sure about an answer or solution, she does her best to figure it out and get back to us.

Stacey is a great help to the CIS team. She always has a positive attitude and friendly demeanor. As the lead secretary, she is always busy but willing to assist us and offer a solution.

Northeastern Elementary, Megan Pathic – Lead Secretary

Megan is the lead secretary at Northeastern Elementary. She is fun loving and hard working with a contagious personality. Megan not only works endlessly to ensure that the office runs smoothly, but she also pays attention to detail. Megan knows the students so well that she can tell when a student is having a rough morning. I have overheard her give students encouraging words to help them through their day. Megan is selfless, she will literally give the shirt off her back, and truly has a heart of gold. We are lucky to have a staff like Megan. I am personally thankful for the relationship CIS has with Megan.

Northglade Montessori Magnet School, Mrs. Crigger – Fourth and Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Crigger has been very helpful in building connections between the CIS site coordinator and the guardians of the children in her classroom as well as highly communicative of CIS initiatives to parents.

Her support is greatly appreciated!

Paramount Charter Academy, Shawntae Sherrod – Teacher

Ms. Sherrod was largely managing the Kids’ Closet at Paramount before a site coordinator was hired.  She has been extremely helpful with getting me organized and transitioning into the building.

Parkwood Upjohn Elementary, Linda Fish – Lead Secretary and Sarah McAllister – Attendance Secretary

Ms. Fish and Ms. McAllister are new to the Parkwood school family this year. They both exhibit wonderful professionalism, kind collegiality, and are quick and helpful sources of support to our students and families. In accordance with the CIS model, they see to it that ALL kids have what they need to stay in school and achieve in life.

Phoenix High School, Renita Ellis – Secretary and Terry Buchanan – Security

Mrs. Ellis and Mr. Buchanan are part of a team helping create a welcoming environment where each student feels known. They consistently connect students with resources CIS provides. Mr. Buchanan finds ways to interact positively with every student in the school. Mrs. Ellis, a proud CIS alum, helps students with anything from basic needs to scholarships for college visits.

Prairie Ridge Elementary, Heather Bates – Fourth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Bates has supported me in my role as site coordinator from day one. Every year, I can count on her to host a program through Prevention Works. She sends kids who need extra love to me. She is dedicated, caring, and an all-around great teacher.

Spring Valley Center for Exploration, Michelle Youngs – School Psychologist

Michelle Youngs goes above and beyond her role to meet the needs of students in all the buildings she works in. When she hears of a student or family need, she quickly connects with CIS to see how we might be able to help.  She looks for as many ways as possible to provide resources to families and students, so they have what they need to be successful. Michelle is always willing to help CIS in any way she can. She is a team player who is always looking to work together to best serve our students and families.

Washington Writers’ Academy, Debrah Wessies – Building Substitute teacher

Ms. Wessies is essential to the school and is always there for staff and students. She is always there for anything the school needs with limited notice and handles it like a champ. She can do everything in the school from being a sub for a class, to organizing books in the library, making sure students have books for the holidays and/or breaks off school, and even can run and sub for the office, if needed. Plus, much more! She treats CIS as a vital and important part of the school.

The students go to her for comfort and know they can rely on her. She also is the coach for Girls on the Run at our school and keeps me in the loop for any needs for facilitating the program. Without her, it would not be a success.

Woods Lake Elementary School, Mrs. Martha Merillo – Food Services and Meghan Lloyd – Child Accounting Secretary

Mrs. Martha always shows up for us. The food is always presentable, tasty, and thought out in advance. She is always glad to serve us even on the “short” days. She remembers the students with special dietary needs. Mrs. Martha is ABSOLUTELY appreciated.

Ms. Lloyd is always doing so much for our students, school, and me! She is always sending students to utilize the supports CIS offers like: Kids’ Closet, snacks, and other Tier I’s. She tirelessly answers my millions of questions – and if she doesn’t have an answer, she always gets one for me. She promotes both daytime services and the afterschool program to students/families, and staff alike. She has even made donations of her own to our Kids’ Closet at WL. She always has a smile, kind words, and has often helped with a problem before you’ve even asked! Since I started at Woods Lake, she’s been welcoming, kind, patient, and so unbelievably helpful.

Woodward School, Heather Gatton – Third Grade Teacher

Heather Gatton is always a captain of a team for Walking With Purpose. She works with our downtown team to start organizing teams in June. She has also hosted over 17 Kalamazoo College students for us this fall!

From all of us at Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, thank you. We are proud to partner with you.

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