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Karin Cotterman
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KCott1@uis.edu

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Second “UIS Cares” will focus on Washington Middle School

March 25, 2004

The Community Outreach Partnership Center at the University of Illinois at Springfield has joined with Unity for the Community, a community organization, to confront a number of critical, education-related issues facing Springfield School District 186. As a result, “wonderful things” are happening.

 During the fall of 2003, the two groups “adopted” Washington Middle School, which had been identified as a low-achieving school, and began a coordinated effort to provide assistance to the school’s students, staff, and parents in a number of ways.

“The goals at WMS include greater parent involvement, greater community involvement, fewer disciplinary incidents, and an increase in student achievement,” explained COPC director Peter Boltuc.

“Parent involvement is a critical need at WMS,” agreed Fred Nunn, COPC assistant director. “So we convened a ‘Grow Your Own Parent’ group. There is a meeting each month, and parent participation continues to grow with each meeting. WMS officials now take more pride and ownership in meeting with members of the parent group and with other members of the Springfield community.”

Nunn and Springfield attorney Lawrence Johnson lead the team of consultants for the parent involvement project and David Welch, chair of Unity for the Community’s Education Committee, also plays a key role. 

Another initiative, spearheaded by Karin Cotterman, coordinator of the Office of Student Volunteers and Service Learning at UIS, involves UIS student volunteers who assist WMS staff and also tutor students during the school day. This effort, according to WMS Principal Diane Hutchins, has been very successful.

“Everyone agrees that the future looks promising,” said Nunn.

As an outgrowth of this partnership, WMS was selected as the site for the Second Annual UIS Cares Day, Saturday, March 27. UIS Cares, a community service project coordinated by Cotterman, will this year bring members of the UIS community to WMS to help with the school’s long-term goal of beautifying the school grounds.

SPRINGFIELD - The University of Illinois at Springfield’s Office of Student Volunteers and Service Learning will sponsor the second annual “UIS Cares” event on Saturday, March 27.

UIS Cares is a half-day community service event in which UIS students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends take on a community service project in partnership with a community-based organization. This year UIS will partner with Washington Middle School, 2300 E. Jackson.  Karin Cotterman, coordinator of the Office of Student Volunteers and Service Learning, will coordinate the project.

“Washington Middle School seems like the obvious site for UIS Cares this year,” said Cotterman. “It is a natural outgrowth of our budding partnership. Also, there is so much community support for WMS, this seem like an easy opportunity for folks to contribute something concrete to the school -- and help the students develop pride in their place of study.”

Volunteers should meet at WMS and the session will begin with coffee and doughnuts at 8:30 a.m. Work will focus on landscaping and outdoor beautification -- a long-term goal of the school staff and PTO. An indoor lunch will be served at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the school.  Participants should wear heavy shoes and bring tools and work gloves if possible. 

Cotterman noted that there are other opportunities to help in addition to working on March 27. These include donating or loaning supplies such as tools, gloves, lawn and leaf bags, garbage bags, etc.; donating landscaping services or plants, mulch, flowerbed makings; helping to publicize the event; and sponsoring lunch or otherwise helping to secure donations.

To sign up as a volunteer or for information about other ways to help, contact Cotterman at 206-7716.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 40 degree programs – 20 bachelor’s, 19 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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