December 1, 2020

#GivingBack on #GivingTuesday at CIS of Kalamazoo

Today is #GivingTuesday: a “global day of giving” fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Last year, CIS of Kalamazoo launched an initiative to do the “giving” on #GivingTuesday, surprising an individual who has gone above and beyond for students in each school building with a card and gift from the CIS site coordinator. The huge smiles and joy we witnessed last year ensured that it would become an annual activity.

We’re thrilled to continue this initiative in 2020. Though it may look different, our purpose remains the same: to honor and recognize someone at each school who is going above and beyond. Each CIS site coordinator has selected a KPS staff member who has demonstrated a commitment to working with CIS to help students succeed and/or make sure students’ needs are met. A personal note and e-gift card will be sent to each recipient. Check out the descriptions below to learn about the inspiring work being done by school staff.

This year has been especially challenging for schools and school staff, and we also want to take a moment to say thank you to EVERY individual who has worked so hard for students. From all of us at Communities In Schools, thank you. We are proud to partner with you.

Arcadia Elementary – Donia Ali has been a true partner for CIS when it comes to connecting to Arcadia’s Arabic speaking families.  She has the best interest of Arcadia students and families in her heart with all that she does. Thank you, Donia, for all you do for Arcadia students and families!

Edison Environmental Science Academy – Head Secretary, Tonya Orbeck, is the most helpful head secretary we could possibly imagine. She always has a million things to do, and yet always finds the time to help in whatever way she can. She is truly the embodiment of teamwork and selflessness.

El Sol Elementary – Secretary, Graciela Arevalo, is a bridge between El Sol staff and families. She is a vital resource to distributing information to families and maintaining a connection between El Sol families and CIS.

Hillside Middle School – Melinda Long, Counseling Office Secretary, is a constant support to CIS at Hillside. She is always very positive and cheerful. Ms. Long works tirelessly as the secretary for the counseling office; she is patient and compassionate when working with students and her professionalism and demeanor makes her a wonderful role model for the young people she supports every day.

Kalamazoo Central High School – Bilingual Home School Liaison, Rebeca Arevalo-Visuet, has been a precious resource. She helps communicate with families where English is a second language. She consistently responds to requests for assistance. Rebeca makes our jobs and the jobs of many other KPS staff much easier. The service she provides is priceless. We are especially grateful!

King-Westwood Elementary – There is no task too big or too small for Jennifer Diget, King-Westwood secretary. Whether it is getting information about a family, accepting a delivery, getting instructions on how to do absolutely anything—or who to contact for absolutely anything—Ms. Diget is the one to call. Not only is she willing to help with anything, she always does it with a smile. She is priceless!

Lincoln Elementary – TaKarra Dunning goes above and beyond to serve the students and families of Lincoln Elementary. As the school’s Behavioral Specialist, she not only helps to support families with clothes, food, and visiting homes, she also supports staff by thinking outside the box to get the job done!

Linden Grove Middle School – Kelly Reimink at Linden Grove has been the missing link necessary in connecting us to students and families. While we’re working remotely, she has been the LG staff member keeping us in the loop about resources available to continue our connections with students and families. Her extensive knowledge and diligence allow us to continue the good work that we do.

Loy Norrix High School – GSA advisor and Library Media Specialist, John Krieder, is always there for students in any capacity. He is always in good spirits and welcomes everyone with a smile.

Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts – Our secretaries, Dillon Boyd and Nicole Degraaf, have been allies for CIS from the day they both entered Maple Street. Their willingness to connect families to CIS whenever possible helps to seamlessly provide much needed services to students. We really appreciate them for being kind-hearted and available when we have questions or if we need anything. We are grateful for all that they do. Thank you!

Milwood Elementary – Leroy Green, Behavioral Aid at Milwood Elementary, is awesome! He is the rock of our school. He is respected and loved by all; the school would not be the same without him!

Milwood Magnet Middle School – KPS IT Specialist, Jacob Cieslak has been a necessary lifesaver when helping CIS implement our groups, CIS After School, GSA newsletter, and more! His patience and willingness to be available whenever we need him has helped us to reach students. He is dedicated to CIS and our students.

Northeastern Elementary – Judy Morin, the Behavioral Specialist, has constantly supported CIS and our students since we’ve started working together. She frequently refers families that are in need to our office. Ms. Morin is extremely devoted to our students and is passionate about what CIS can do to help. She is always promoting us, our services, and utilizing them for students in whatever way possible.

Northglade Elementary – Principal Re’Qwal Duckworth has worked hand in hand with CIS through the pandemic. Through meeting with site coordinators to help meet students’ needs, delivering supplies to students, making home visits, and leading the site and students in the midst of a global pandemic, Mrs. Duckworth shows a commitment to working with CIS and helping students succeed. 

Parkwood Upjohn Elementary – Paraprofessional, Jane Metzler, has spent many years working within our school district. Ms. Metzler has readily made herself available to assist in meeting the needs of our students.  When we moved to remote learning in the spring, Jane could regularly be counted on to deliver food and school supplies to students without hesitation.  Special Education teacher, Ms. Forbes, says that Jane is “amazingly compassionate and caring.  She goes above and beyond to make sure the students have not only academic resources, but also words of encouragement.  She is a true gem.”

Prairie Ridge Elementary – Home Support Specialists, Terry Hess and Amy Triemstra, have gone above and beyond to coordinate with CIS staff to make sure our work has the greatest positive impact for our kids, families, and staff. They are the glue that holds the school together. The Prairie Ridge CIS team is so grateful to them both.

Spring Valley Elementary – School Psychologist, Michelle Youngs, goes above and beyond to make sure that our students’ needs are met and is always there to support staff with encouragement. She truly does understand the CIS vision and what an important role we are in the students’ success and well-being.

Washington Writers’ Academy – Ms. Joy Vandepol and Mrs. Yolanda Kirk do everything possible to help the school run smooth. They are a great team and always going above and beyond to help and support me (CIS site coordinator, Fredrick Daniel) as I am new in this position. When frustrations and uncertainties kick in, they help to calm things down. I love them to death.

Woods Lake Elementary – Teacher, Alex Miller, is always advocating for her students. She is always going above and beyond to make sure her students are logging on with her every day. If students are not logging online, she is trying to figure out why and identifying anything they may need in order to be successful!

Woodward School for Technology and Research – Kindergarten Teacher, Asha Epp, regularly goes above and beyond to make sure her kindergarten students feel at home with her and in her classroom. During COVID times, this has been no different. Asha makes deliveries, ensures ALL students are feeling connected to each other and to the class, and works tirelessly to build that loving and accountable classroom culture that is essential to learning, especially during these hard times. Asha is an essential part of the Woodward Wolf Pack, and we are grateful to be able to honor her and say “Thank You” for being so strong for your students and the school community!