What Are CIS Volunteers Reading?

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Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

National Reading Month has us wondering, what are Communities In Schools (CIS) volunteers reading? To appease our curiosity, Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator asked them. Here’s what 26 of these wonderful folks who share their time and talents to benefit students throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools had to say:

 

What a great idea! I’m an avid reader myself. I am currently reading Memories by Lang Leav. She is a talented poet my friend recommended to me and I adore her beautiful poetry.

-Danielle Favorite, Linden Grove Middle School

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

-Jim Laurain, Maple Street Middle School

 

I just finished The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy; good story. I don’t read a lot of books because I read a newspaper every day and subscribe to two magazines, and then there is all that mail, both snail and electronic.  Also, I read stories off the Internet.

-Karen Tinklenberg, Lincoln International Studies School

People’s Church

 

I am currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It is a book we are considering for our Honors College common read for next year!

-Jane Baas, Milwood Street Magnet Middle School

Coordinator of Medallion Scholars

 

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Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Tillyweed by Mary Anne Kelly.

-Jennifer Grace, Milwood Elementary

 

I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which I loved even more than the movie. I am now reading salt.by Nayyirah Waheed; a book of her poems. It’s pulling on the strings of my heart.

-Tanequa “Te” Hampton, Maple Street Magnet Middle School

Pretty Lake Camp Director

 

Currently, I’m reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Once I’m finished, I plan on starting Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

-Kailee Smith, Northglade Montessori Magnet School & Prairie Ridge Elementary

 

I finished Orphan Train by Christine Baker-Kline a few weeks ago:  interesting and heartbreaking novel based on true events between 1854-1929 depicting the lives of abandoned children from East Coast cities put on so-called orphan trains carrying thousands of them to the farmlands of the Midwest where their fates would be determined by pure luck; intermixed with a storyline set in modern day foster care.

I am now well into Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a fascinating novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color. A full immersion opportunity to think outside the American box.

-Mary Reaume, Prairie Ridge Elementary

 

Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography
Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

I am always reading multiple books at a time. Currently, my books of choice are:

1) The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest by Alvin Josephy

2) I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish

3) The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay & James Madison

4) The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

-Richard Thompson, King-Westwood Elementary School

 

I just finished The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

-Roberta Sportel, Northglade Montessori Magnet School

 

No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Cell by Stephen King.

-Lisa Holmes, Prairie Ridge Elementary

 

Just this very moment, I am on Anna Maria Island looking at the Gulf and reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

-Rosalie Novara, King-Westwood Elementary & Maple Street Magnet School

 

The Outsider by Richard Wright after finishing Native Son by the same author.

-Nanette Keiser, King-Westwood Elementary School

 

Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography
Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

I belong to the International Murder Mystery reader’s group at the Portage Public Library. Our selection for this month is Night Soldiers by Alan Furst.

-Judy Riccio, Woods Lake Elementary

 

I just finished the Orphan Train which was the community read by Kalamazoo Public Library.

-Stephen Ohs, Lincoln International Studies School

 

Yesterday, I finished reading Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven. I am about to start reading Encountering God, written by an old friend of mine, Mark A Johnson, with a major assist from his parents.

-Dewey Walker, Prairie Ridge Elementary

 

I am reading The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.  It is a good read and starts back in the early 1900’s about a Jewish family and their relationships and how they cope with life and world events.

-Nancy Laugeman, Prairie Ridge Elementary 

 

I am currently reading the entire series of Dune. A great sci-fi series that has great insight into life and is also a great and easy read.

-Paul Ferguson, Washington Writers’ Academy

 

Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography
Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

I am reading:  Newspapers – Kalamazoo Gazette, Detroit Free Press, New York Times;  Magazines- Time, National Geographic, Military History; Books – Budapest 1900/A Historical Portrait of a City and its Culture by John Lukacs, Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor, and One For the Money by Janet Evanovich.  With my Bible study group I am also reading Jeremiah, the 24th book of the Old Testament.

-James (Jim) W. Smith, Woods Lake Elementary

 

A series written by English author, Jacqueline Winspear. These books are set in England and France between WWI and WWII. They are historical mysteries. The main character is Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. The storyline contains delightful characters, many of whom continue from book to book. Besides the plots being well developed and interesting, Winspear’s use of the very rich vocabulary of the English is fun to explore. My Kindle allows me to find word meaning and usage on the spot! The historical settings are well researched.

-Diana Spradling, Woods Lake Elementary

 

I received your email and thought it was an interesting project to list what CIS folks are reading.  Right now, I am reading The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia. It is a fascinating history of civilization as it developed on the Mediterranean from 22000 BC to the present. It will be interesting to see what others are reading.

-Bob Spradling, Woods Lake Elementary

 

Reading Love Will Steer Me True by Jane Knuth and Ellen Knuth; and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell.

-Amy Morris, Northeastern Elementary School

 

Right now I’m reading John Adams by David McCullough.

-Diane Tultz, King-Westwood Elementary School

 

I am currently reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne.

-Susie Knox, Kalamazoo Central High School

 

Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography
Photo taken by Kaitlin Martin, CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator and Kaitlin LaMoine Photography

Dead Wake by Erik Larson—about the sinking of the Lusitania. Strangers in the Bronx by Andrew O’Toole—about the transition from DiMaggio to Mantle in the Yankee dynasties. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough—about the development of the first successful airplane. A Man and His Ship by Steven Ujifusa—about the man who conceived and supervised the building of the ocean liner “United States.”

-Wayne Connor, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

Our Unitarian Universalist Association suggests a “Common Read” each year and People’s Church accepted the recommendation of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Recently, we held a group discussion of this book and related themes. My own book club is reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing and we also participate in the Kalamazoo Common Read, currently The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

-Kay Spade, Lincoln International Studies School
People’s Church

 

Thank you for sharing! And if you missed some of our CIS staff and board members are reading you can find them here and here.

 

Paying It Forward At An Early Age

20140506-DSC_7712 - CopyToday we celebrate the work of Kawyie Cooper who was honored at the seventh annual Champ celebration. CIS Board Member Jen Randall along with Stephanie Walther, CIS Site Coordinator at El Sol Elementary School, presented the award. Following the award, Kawyie gave a speech.

If you saw our youngest Champ of all time coming down the hallway at King-Westwood Elementary School, you’d first be struck by her gigantic smile and bright eyes. As you’d get to know her a bit better, like her CIS Site Coordinator Laura Kaiser has, you’d find out what a caring, outgoing, friendly and hard working student Kawyie Cooper is. Over the past year, this fifth grader has embraced the CIS mission, empowering herself to take full advantage of the CIS resources Laura has connected her with to stay in school and achieve in life. Over a matter of months she made huge improvements in her reading, math, and behavior. How many grownups can boast that?

When AmeriCorps VISTA Maggie Orlieb started an Environmental Club, Kawyie enthusiastically got on board, serving as a positive leader within the group, full of ideas. “She really helped set the tone for the other kids,” says Laura. “She is a real leader.” This young leader is flourishing with the support of her parents, KPS teachers, and the efforts of yet another Champ, her tutor and mentor,Rosalie Novara. Funny, how that works, isn’t it?

20140506-DSC_7628Kawyie’s literacy teacher and 2010 Champ recipient, Ms. Killen, says this: “Kawyie has also made improvements in systems of organization and management.  She is able to arbitrate for herself, respectfully, when she disagrees with someone, and her classmates respect and admire her.” Ms. Cruz-Davis, her homeroom teacher, says this: “She is more responsible for her homework since the beginning of the year. Academically she has made improvements in allareas… “

It’s clear that Kawyie’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. When, during a school team meeting, the CIS Site Coordinator recommended that Kawyie serve as a mentor for a young student, the school team unanimously agreed.

20140506-DSC_7714Surrounded by a community of support, Kawyie is living out that CIS basic: an opportunity to give back peers and her community. She mentors a second grader, reviewing a daily checklist created by the CIS Site Coordinator to keep her young charge on track. Turns out, Kawyie is just what this second grade student needs: a caring, older student who is looking out for her, and always with that beautiful smile. With Kawyie’s support, this student is improving her own academics and behavior.

At the end of the day, the Site Coordinator will often catch a glimpse of Kawyie, taking her mentee’s hand, walking down the hall and out to the same bus they ride together.

Kawyie Cooper, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

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Signing On For Life

Today we celebrate the work of Rosalie Novara who was honored at the seventh annual Champ celebration. CIS Board Member Stephen Denenfeld along with Stacy Salters, CIS Site Coordinator at Edison Environmental Science Academy, presented the award.

Kawyie Cooper (left) and Rosalie Novara (Right)
Kawyie Cooper (left) and Rosalie Novara (Right)

Rosalie Novara began her extensive volunteer commitment by signing on to become a mentor with the KAAAP initiative—the Kalamazoo Area Academic Achievement Program—when it was still part of the Chamber of Commerce. When Rosalie signs on, Rosalie signs on!  Not only did she embrace her role as a KAAAP mentor for the girl to whom she was assigned, she also became a key support person for the sister. Rosalie took seriously the importance of staying with her mentee from the beginning of the relationship at 4th grade throughout high school to graduation and entry to college.

When we say that there is a role for everyone in the community in improving the lives of our children and helping the whole community thrive, Rosalie sings our song. She began her volunteer stint while she was still a busy CEO of a large non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. She could have easily been given a “pass” on volunteering. She now has six grandchildren in Chicago and Denver, another reason to be given a “pass” on a regular volunteer stint. Rosalie’s KAAAP mentee and sister are now adults and have their own children. Rosalie even served as a labor and delivery coach for one.  She has more than fulfilled her KAAAP obligation—and qualified to retire.

20140506-DSC_7635Fortunately for CIS, Rosalie is definitely not in retirement mode. Like Star Trek, the Next Generation, Rosalie has begun her commitment to another generation of children by tutoring in a kindergarten classroom at King Westwood Elementary School and serving as a mentor/tutor for two students. According to CIS Site Coordinator, Laura Keiser, Rosalie advocates for them relentlessly, implementing behavior and academic interventions. Rosalie connects easily to a variety of students, finding out what motivates them and what they are passionate about.

Whether it’s tutoring, mentoring, attending student conferences, stopping by to touch base with the CIS Site Coordinator, Rosalie understands and embraces the critical role that volunteers play in students’ lives and in the quality of life of an entire community.  In addition to volunteering with Communities In Schools, Rosalie serves a key role in the Great Start Early Childhood Action Network.

Rosalie Novara, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

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Champs Among Us

(Left to Right) Ming Li, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Pam Kingery, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Mayor of Kalamazoo, Bobby Hopewell
(Left to Right) Ming Li, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Pam Kingery, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Mayor of Kalamazoo, Bobby Hopewell

Upon leaving our seventh annual Champ Celebration, held last week at Cityscape, one of our almost 200 guests said, “Everybody in town should experience Champs!”

We agree. Our CIS board and staff had a great time hosting the event and we want to share with everyone what these nine individuals and organizations are doing to help kids stay in school and achieve in life.

So, in the weeks and months to come we’ll introduce you to each of them. You’ll be able to read what our various presenters said about their efforts and thanks to CIS volunteer, Don Kingery, you’ll be able to see what guests saw (and missed!) through his photographic lens.

Dr. Michael F. Rice, Superintendent, Kalamazoo Public Schools
Dr. Michael F. Rice, Superintendent, Kalamazoo Public Schools

And, because we’ve had numerous requests to publish the speech given by our youngest Champ ever—fifth grader Kawyie Cooper—we’ll post her speech next Tuesday. According to Kathy Jennings, editor of Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, Kawyie “stole the show with her words of what being named a Champ meant to her.” You can read the entire article here. And, if we can convince some of our other Champs to guest blog for us, we’ll publish their reflections here as well.

Today, though, we’ll leave you with a list of our award winners. And then, take a moment to click on the “Dear Kalamazoo” video below that first aired during the event. This video was created because throughout the 19 KPS schools that CIS is currently in, we have a number of grateful students (not to mention parents and teachers) who wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks and give shouts out to their own Champs.

Special thanks to all of our CIS Site Coordinators and CIS Site Team members (Assistant Site Coordinators, Youth Development Workers, VISTAs, and interns) who provide the infrastructure to support the hundreds of marvelous volunteers and community partners who work with Communities In Schools and the Kalamazoo Public Schools to help kids stay in school and achieve in life.

Our 2014 Champs:

Kawyie Cooper, 2014 Champ
Kawyie Cooper, 2014 Champ

Terri Aman, KPS Executive Supervisor for Transportation

RSVP through Senior Services Southwest Michigan, CIS Nonprofit Partner

Jay Gross, KPS Home School Community Liaison, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts

Consumers Credit Union, CIS Nonprofit Business Partner

Rosalie Novara, CIS Volunteer Tutor, King-Westwood Elementary School

Radiant Church, CIS Emerging Faith-Based Partner

Kawyie Cooper, CIS Student, King-Westwood Elementary School

Carol Steiner, KPS Principal, Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School

And this year’s recipient of the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award:

Barbara Witzak, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services for Kalamazoo Public Schools

So, please, keep up with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids to discover the Champ experience. We think you’ll agree it’s not just a one day event!

Carolyn H. Williams, President, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Board
Carolyn H. Williams, President, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Board

Broncos Brake For Volunteers

Carly kicks off focus group as WMU students look on
Carly kicks off focus group as WMU students look on

Apparently, seven of our CIS volunteers didn’t get the memo that it was spring break! This past Saturday, seven of them showed up to our downtown office bright and early to be part of a focus group to provide their perspective on how CIS can best recruit and support volunteers. Carly Wiggins, Director of Volunteers Services moderated the session, asking questions that had been prepared by Western Michigan University students TJ Hogan, Denise Negren, Brenna Schafer, Gabrielle Hanson, and team leader, Rachel Duelo. The college students provided coffee and donuts for the volunteers and listened in on the discussion.

Rachel’s group is one of three teams of students who are part of Diana Berkshire Hearit’s Public Relations Capstone Class. Each is developing a marketing campaign that they will present later this month to CIS. We’ve asked them to focus their efforts on helping us deepen community awareness and support for Kids’ Closet/basic needs as well as volunteers.

This is the second time that CIS has partnered up with Diana Berkshire Hearit to serve as a “client” for her students. And just like two years ago, we are appreciative of the ground work Diana does in advance of our initial meeting with the entire class. As graduates of WMU, Carly and I are particularly proud of the way these young men and women have conducted themselves and the insightful questions they have asked of us throughout this process.

Rana Shammas, Steve Stapleton, Mary Lewis, Shirley Freeman, Doyle Crow, Jager Hartman, and Rosalie Novara, we are so grateful for the volunteer work you are doing with our kids throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Thank you for choosing to spend some of your Saturday morning with us. We will infuse what we learned from you into our work. We (not to mention some of our 12,000 kids) are already better for having you in our lives.