Introducing New Members of the Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Board of Directors

This past July, we welcomed five new members onto the Board of Directors. We want to welcome Josh Sledge, Jyllian Liggins, Sheri Welsh, Scott Nykaza, and TiAnna Harrison who share our passion for helping kids succeed. They join more than two dozen other committed individuals who are “all in” for kids.

For a full list of the CIS Board of Directors, visit: https://ciskalamazoo.org/meet-the-board/

Jyllian Liggins, Community Member

Jyllian Liggins is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She attended Western Michigan University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2001. She later earned her MBA from Spring Arbor University in 2009. Jyllian held several positions at Consumers Energy Company until resigning to stay at home to raise her family.

Jyllian is married to James Liggins, Jr. and they have three beautiful children. Jyllian is passionate about impacting the positive growth and development of youth. She led the children’s ministry at her church for many years. Currently, Jyllian is active in the music ministry at her church, a member of Tendaji, a local women’s philanthropic group, and a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Jyllian also enjoys traveling, running half marathons, trying new pizzerias, and listening to music.

Favorite Children’s Book:  There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

 

Dr. Scott Nykaza, Chief Executive Officer at Kalsec®, Inc.

Raised on a small farm in Wisconsin, Dr. Scott Nykaza started school on a track scholarship from the University of Arkansas majoring in Animal Science and Agri Business. He obtained a BS degree in this area, after transferring in his second year to Kansas State University. Dr. Nykaza went on to receive a MS degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics at KSU and later, after working a few years, a PhD in Plant Genetics from Colorado State University.

After getting a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics, he started working at Monsanto on research with GMO crops in various capacities, leaving the organization as a Regional Business Leader for Monsanto. Along the way, Scott earned an MBA from Michigan State University.

Dr. Nykaza came to Kalsec, Inc.® to work in the purchasing area in 1999 and after a few years became Vice President of Procurement. He enjoyed the work and travel that position had to offer and visited over 100 countries throughout the years. After seven years, Scott transferred to Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in October 2011. He held that position until 2013 when he became the Chief Executive Officer of Kalsec, Inc.®.

Scott’s family includes his wife Janet and daughters Emily and Madeline. They enjoy visiting them during the vacation time. Emily lives in New Orleans with her husband and two children and Madeline lives in Washington DC. Janet and Scott have participated in many charitable activities over the years and feel motivated to help support others less fortunate and in need of help.

Favorite Children’s Book:  Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

 

Josh Sledge, Senior Director, Programs at Financial Health Network

As a Senior Director on the Financial Health Network’s Program team, Josh supports innovative financial services providers working on solutions to improve consumer financial health. His work includes managing relationships with Network member organizations, conducting consumer and industry research, advising companies on strategy and product design, and leading initiatives designed to foster new financial health solutions. Among other topics, he has particular expertise on the small-dollar credit industry and nonprofit innovation. Before joining the Financial Health Network, Josh was a Senior Investment Analyst at Prudential Capital Group, an investment division of Prudential Financial. Josh earned an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.  He’s a Kalamazoo native and a proud graduate of Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Favorite Children’s Book: The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak

 

Sheri Welsh, President & CEO of Welsh & Associates, Inc.

Sheri holds a BS in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and is a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Sheri is a graduate of Leadership Kalamazoo and a Past Board Chair of the Leadership Kalamazoo Advisory Council, YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women, and the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Currently, she serves on the board of directors for the Small Business Association of Michigan and Kalamazoo County Ready 4’s. She lives in Kalamazoo with her husband Richard and spunky Welsh Corgi, Jack. Sheri and Richard have two children who are graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools and Promise Scholars.

Favorite Children’s Book:  Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

 

*Not pictured, TiAnna Harrison is a new addition to the CIS Board of Directors representing Kalamazoo Public Schools as the Board of Education Treasurer.

2017-18 Gifts of Kindness Recognition

Thank you to the many individuals, groups, businesses, and other organizations who provided in-kind support to CIS and the students we served last school year, including donations of items to the CIS Kids’ Closet! These are in addition to those who made financial gifts, which can be found in our 2017-18 annual report.

 

This list recognizes those who gave between July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018. We make every effort to recognize our donors accurately. If we have omitted you or made a mistake in listing you, we need to know! Please accept our apologies for any oversights and contact us via phone at 269.337.1601 or email Emily Kobza at ekobza@ciskalamazoo.org with the corrected information for future publications.

8th District Court
Karen Alston
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Members, Employees, and Caring Committee of Arbor Financial Credit Union
Staff of BASIC
Borgess Professional Nurse Council
Jen Boyer
Breakfast Optimist Club of Kalamazoo
Bronson Health Foundation
Bronson Methodist Hospital Cardiology Floor & Float Pool
Bronson Respiratory Department
Janice Brown and Ed Birch
Yolanda Browning
Caitlin Bunker
Vanessa Chastine
John and Jennifer Clark
Ms. Artrella Cohn
James Corzine
Pam Dalitz
Delta Dental of Michigan
Stephen and Marlene Denenfeld
Kate Duffey
Carol Eaton
Edwards Garment
Lena Ellinger & Friends
Millie Ellis
Shona Espinoza
Melissa Ewing
First Day Shoe Fund
First United Methodist Church
Ms. Laura Flegel
Flynn Thiel, P.C
Briana Gilliard
GSHOM Troop #80443
Cynda and James Greenman
Susan L. Harrington
Emily Hoffman
Mr. Shaghil Husain, Sarah Husain & Kyle Dykgraf – in memory of Gulnar Husain
IBEW Local 131
The Integer Group
David W. Jackson
Jaqua Realtors
JCPenney
Donna Judd
Junior League of Kalamazoo, Inc.
Faculty & Staff of Kalamazoo College
Kalamazoo County Association of Retired School Personnel
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Staff at Kalamazoo Public Schools Administration Building
Kalamazoo Southside Church of the Nazarene
Bob and Susan Kiser
Marcia Kolinske
James and Diane Koning
Kushner & Company
Lake Michigan Credit Union
David and Amy Lehr
Kelly Leversee
Jennifer Lindsay
Heather LongJohn
Lowe’s Store #1110
Karen Masten-Brier
Tony and Theresa McDonnell
Melissa McPherson
Ms. Nick Metzger
Millennium Restaurant Group
Miller Johnson
Kristen Miller
Milwood Methodist Church Women’s Ministry
Petra Morey
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Myrtle’s Sisters – Unity Church
NALS of Greater Kalamazoo
Debra Newsome – in honor of John Brandon’s birthday
Catherine Niessink
Jack Novotny
Old National Bank
Florence U. Orosz
Oshtemo Area Churches (OAC)
Ann and Don Parfet
Paris Cleaners
Parkview Hills Community
Rosa Ponce
Radiant Church
Leslie Lami-Reed and William Reed
Republic Services
Jennifer A. Rice and Jeff Spoelstra
Pat Rothi
Kathryn Rozich
RX Optical
Bob and Jerri Sabo
Christina Semelbauer
“Helping Hands, Happy People” of RSVP – Your invitation To Volunteer – Senior Services of Southwest Michigan
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Jaswant Singh & Family
Martha Smith
St. Joseph Catholic Church
Sunnyside United Methodist Church
Swan Snack Emporium – TowerPinkster
Thermofisher Scientific
Visions of Victory Church of God – Mittens for Munchkins Ministry
Cameron Weld
West Kalamazoo Christian Church
Cheri Williams
Melissa Wilson
WMU Lee Honors College
Dawn Wright
The Wyatt/Campus Advantage
Zion Lutheran Church
Employees of Zoetis

Every child deserves a Mrs. Wolfe

While each school year brings changes, this year feels especially different. That’s because Liza Wolfe, a Kalamazoo icon, has retired. Since 1976, Liza Wolfe has launched the success of over 1,000 children by offering high quality preschool through Mrs. Wolfe’s Preschool. She transformed the basement of her Westnedge Hill home into a preschooler’s dream, complete with books, a slide, huge building blocks, dolls, art materials, and more. For 43 years she prepared kids to be the best future students and citizens they could be by teaching them how to listen and share, how to be patient and how to participate.

Mrs. Wolfe’s Preschool has been such a part of the beautiful and whimsical fabric of Kalamazoo. Even if you don’t have a child, grandchild, niece, or nephew who attended her school, you probably know of her. Each June, you might have seen Mrs. Wolfe and her friends marching through the streets of downtown.

Heading off to Do Dah

Since the Do Dah Parade’s inception in 1985, Mrs. Wolfe, her students, parents, and on occasion, alumni, have joined in the fun, parading through the streets in zany outfits they’ve made. When the Kalamazoo Gazette asked Mrs. Wolfe why Do Dah? she said, “We do the parade because when I was little, I never got the chance to be in one but I could play in the street,” she said. “Now, kids can’t play in the street anymore but they sure can do a parade.”

Mrs. Wolfe as “Keeper of Tales” in Do Dah, 2011

Through the years, Liza Wolfe has also taught parents important lessons. For instance, she’s helped helicopter parents set down their hovering tendencies. Parents have always been welcome to visit during their child’s morning or afternoon session under one condition. “You must be a fly on the wall,” Mrs. Wolfe instructs parents at the start of the school year. She explains that when conflict arises it’s important to give children space to solve their own problems. Rush into solving the conflict or intervening for any reason, and you rob kids of the opportunity to learn.

While early childhood is “hot” right now, Liza Wolfe embraced it long before it was “a thing.”  She’s been around long enough to see trends come and go. When it comes to ideas about how preschool should be taught, the importance of play in early childhood education programming has, at times, been undervalued in favor of direct instruction. Ever the champion for children and what they truly need, Mrs. Wolfe has protected and reinforced the role of play in her students’ early childhood development.

Fred Rogers pointed out that, “Play is really the work of childhood.” Mrs. Wolfe knows this and because she recognizes that play is the foundation of learning, she takes play seriously.

Mrs. Wolfe takes a break from sorting books.

As with all high-quality preschool programs, she helps students answer their own questions through exploring different options, experimenting and engaging in conversation. She focused on basic building blocks, growing young people’s social and emotional skills, language and vocabulary, imagination and creativity. Her graduates, numbering in the thousands, have learned much from her. The behaviors they practiced over and over during their preschool years (repetitive practice has a tendency to instill habits), served them well in their elementary school years and beyond. From her, they have learned:

Hang up your coat.
Wait until everyone is served before you start eating.
Take only what you need.
Learn to wait your turn.
Follow instructions.
Co-operate with others.
Listen to stories.
Work together.
And more.

Imagine what the world could be like if everyone had a Mrs. Wolfe. We might all be better at listening to each other and cooperating for the better of all.

 

What are CIS Staff Reading?

It’s National Reading Month and a time when Kalamazoo Public Schools hosts literacy activities throughout the schools. We prepare ourselves by engaging in the annual ritual of asking: What are you reading? Here’s what some Communities In Schools (CIS) staff are reading…

I just finished Perfect Peace by Daniel Black which was an amazing story reflecting a mother’s desperate decision to acquire something she’d always wanted through methods that the rest of the world would see as imponderable. When the truth is revealed, a story of unconditional love, family, and sexuality is born.  I am currently reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Second House from the Corner by Sadeqa Johnson, and Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.

-Stacy S. Jackson, CIS After School Coordinator, Edison Environmental Science Academy

[Note: As part of Reading Together, you can meet Pulitzer Prize winning author Matthew Desmond on Friday, March 16 at 7pm at Chenery. It’s free, but KPL would like you to first register here. ]

 

The last book I read was Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo. This book inspired CIS volunteer, Dr. Zhu, to help with tutoring. (See the blog post by clicking here.)

-Emily Kobza, Director of Development & Business Engagement

 

I am reading The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I just finished Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo – recommended by Dr. Jim Zhu.  Very good reads!

-Missy Best, Senior CIS Site Coordinator, Milwood Magnet School

 

With my four-year-old, I’m reading Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.  With my seven-year-old, I’m reading Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses. With my (38-year-old) spouse, I’m reading a collection of poetry with authors that include Mary Oliver, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, and Clare of Assisi, among others.

Thanks for asking one of my favorite questions!

-Angela Van Heest, CIS Site Coordinator, Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School

 

I’m reading Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

-Shannon Jones, CIS After School Coordinator Milwood Magnet School

 

I am currently reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I took my students to see the movie. They had such good discussions comparing and contrasting the book from the movie they encouraged me to read it.

-Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts

 

I’m always reading several…

-Maggie Walters, CIS Success Coach, Loy Norrix High School

 

I’ve just started reading The Shack by Canadian author William P. Young. This was a favorite of my Mother’s. She had me buy extra copies a few years back, before she passed, so she could share them with others who also lived at her nursing home. I saw the movie when it came out and loved it.

-Kelly Cedarquist, CIS Site Coordinator, King-Westwood Elementary

 

I just finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It’s the kind of book you can’t stop thinking about. I’m now reading Ordinary Light: A Memoir by poet Tracey K. Smith. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. I also love reading work by local writers, so each night I’m reading one poem by Elizabeth Kerlikowske in Off the Wall: How Art Speaks and studying the accompanying painting by Mary Hatch. A stunning and fun book!

-Jennifer Clark, Special Projects & Initiatives

 

I have been reading books in the King Killer Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss. I am currently on the second book in the series, The Wise Man’s Fear. A couple books ago I read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which probably is the best book I have read in the last year. I highly recommend it.

-Jenna Cooperrider, CIS Success Coach, Kalamazoo Central High School

 

Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry.  Honey bees are frequently in the spotlight. I’m fascinated by them. I’m a beekeeper. Looming as an even larger concern are our native pollinators and native bees. Complex topic and simple steps that everyone can engage in.

Also reading The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich. It’s that time of year to continue to educate myself, prepare, and network with other beekeepers before the first nectar becomes available. Great information.

-Maureen Cartmill, CIS Site Coordinator, Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts

 

My book club (The Lovely Ladies of Literature) is reading The Patternist series by Octavia Butler. We are on Book 1, Wild Seed. The interesting thing about the series is that she wrote them in the opposite order that you read them in. So, the last book that she wrote is the first book that you read. Also, there was a fifth book, but she shelved it because it didn’t really flow the way she had hoped for.

-Artrella Cohn, Senior Director of Community Engagement & Student Investment

 

I recently finished a fascinating, but tragic story called Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It is a fictional story but is based on a little known historical event that took place between 1854 and 1929, where over 200,000 orphan children were sent across the Midwest by train to be placed with families, often to be used as free labor. It was excellent. I am presently reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I learned of this author at Cara’s SEL [Social Emotional Learning] training and so far am really enjoying it!

Joan Coopes, CIS Site Coordinator, Arcadia Elementary

 

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. It’s historical fiction. And this, from the NYT’s book review: A finalist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, The Narrow Road to the Deeper North portrays a singular episode of manic brutality: imperial Japan’s construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in the early 1940s. The British had long investigated this route, but they deemed the jungle impenetrable. Once the Japanese captured Burma, though, its army needed a more efficient resupply route, and so the impossible became possible in just over a year by using some 300,000 people as disposable labor. Flanagan’s late father was a survivor of that atrocity, which took the lives of more than 12,000 Allied prisoners.

Keely Novotny, CIS Site Coordinator, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I am usually reading three to four books at a time.  I always have one book I listen to in the car, one I can pick up and put down easily, one I read before I go to sleep, and one I can’t put down.  The car book at present is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. It is the story of a young woman from Sweden who loses her job in a bookstore and decides to visit her elderly pen pal in a dying town in Iowa, and what happens next.

The pick up/put down book is often short stories or essays.  Currently it is Spoiled Brats, a book of short stories by Simon Rich. The summary on the back of the book starts out with “Twenty years ago, Barney the Dinosaur told the nation’s children they were special. We’re still paying the price. From “one of the funniest writers working today (review from Rolling Stone) comes a collection of stories culled from the front lines of the millennial culture wars.”  I have only read the first story in which the narrator is a guinea pig living in a second grade classroom.

My bedtime book is from the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley, The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place.  Flavia is an eleven-year-old girl growing up in England in the 1950s.  She is fascinated with chemistry and uses her extensive knowledge of poisons and decay to help the local inspector solve murders.  This is the ninth book in the series.

And, finally, the book I can’t put down is Need to Know by Karen Cleveland. The protagonist is Vivian who works for the CIA who, while trying to find out more about a Russian handler and the agents he handles, finds information that threatens everything that matters to her. I read the first chapter of this book online in an email I get about books. The sender takes the first chapter of a book and breaks it into five segments and sends each segment daily for a week.  At the end of the week, this one got me….

-Barbara Worgess, Project Manager of School Based Health Initiative

 

Keep up with us at Ask Me About My 12,000+ Kids and you’ll soon find out what our volunteers have been reading!