Education

Read and Write Kalamazoo

Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) exists to support the growth and learning of youth through the cultivation of reading and writing skills. Founded in 2012, we aim to celebrate and amplify youth voices through a variety of programs: summer writing camps, thematic workshops, secret book club, classroom field trips, in-school programs, as well as partnerships with many youth-serving organizations. At the heart of what we do, you will find the published work of our youth: books, zines, magazines, comics, blog posts, and more. The work we do to provide platforms for youth to experience the joy and creativity of writing is one that empowers youth to use their words and be heard. We believe the success of every student relies on an invested community, so we rely on our growing team of volunteers to provide support at all of our programs and events. Addressing equity and access in our community, RAWK offers all programs at no cost to the youth we serve.

In November of 2017 RAWK relocated into the Vine Neighborhood launching our storefront, The Geological & Musicological Survey Co., which serves as an exciting portal to our writing center and publishing hub. RAWK is committed to deepening youth leadership opportunities for our youth in 2018. Freshly formed, the Youth Advisory Council is setting big goals for the year ahead: developing, writing, and editing a magazine with a theme of social justice, a storefront window installation collaboration with local artists, and creating youth outreach/marketing opportunities for RAWK. This summer, we will grow our Youth Mentor Program that will now consist of a Youth Leadership Camp where we train high school youth to be writing coaches and mentors, and then provide them with stipends to work at our summer camps and our themed drop-in writing mornings. Youth-driven programs ensure RAWK remains an effective organization that speaks to the needs of the youth we serve.

For more information, visit www.readandwritekzoo.org.

Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency / Education ReConnection: Connecting Students to Education and Career Success

Education ReConnection is an initiative designed and operated by Kalamazoo RESA’s Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) to positively impact the graduation rates of youth in Kalamazoo County. This program works to reconnect disengaged youth to an established pathway toward secondary school completion. All nine Kalamazoo County public school districts have been critical partners in the program’s establishment, sustainability, and success.

Through YOU, each student has the support of a classroom teacher and is provided a customized learning plan to fit their learning style. These plans use innovative classroom management techniques including flexible scheduling, a year-round calendar, online educational modules, and smaller class sizes that enable more frequent one-on-one interaction. This individual relationship is critical to ensuring a student’s continued participation in school and, eventually, their success in graduating.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in Work Based Learning, a paid work experience offering students an opportunity to earn a wage and learn valuable insights as to what companies’ desire in employees. Post-secondary preparation and guidance, career exploration and placement, advanced training, and career laddering information are all embedded in the program as well, to ensure student success beyond high school.

For more information, please visit www.kresa.org/page/500

Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo

Communities In Schools overcomes the barriers that derail kids, giving them hope and the belief that they can succeed in school, graduate, and be prepared for life.

But how can a single organization working alone serve the needs of 9,310 students? It can’t.

That’s why Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) taps the talents of more than 550 volunteers and works together with more than 90 community partnerships to deliver the services and resources students need to address the needs of the whole child.

In America, 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. CIS uses a proven model for reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. Kalamazoo is part of a powerful, collective approach for communities to respond to needs of students.

This unique model positions CIS site coordinators inside 20 Kalamazoo Public School buildings to assess students’ needs and provide resources to help them succeed in the classroom and in life. CIS site coordinators literally bring the community, and all the ways it can help, into the school. This is how CIS surrounds kids with whatever it takes — from tutors and food assistance to health services and college visits — so they can start strong and keep moving forward.

Children — some facing overwhelming obstacles — are succeeding and taking advantage of The Kalamazoo Promise. Every day, people choose to be part of an engaged community so that every child fulfills his or her promise. Together, we are igniting hope and belief in thousands of kids.

For more information, please visit:
www.ciskalamazoo.org

Kalamazoo County Ready 4s

ENSURING HIGH QUALITY PRE-KINDERGARTEN EDUCATION FOR OUR CHILDREN

Kalamazoo County Ready 4s (KC Ready 4s) is a community-designed organization focused on: providing coaching and mentoring to assist local pre-kindergarten providers in achieving and sustaining high-quality standards under Michigan’s Great Start to Quality system; offering tuition assistance to qualifying families so they can afford to enroll their child in a high-quality pre-kindergarten program; and building a sustainable network of public and private pre kindergarten programs. KC Ready 4s’ goal is to ensure that every four-year-old, without exception, has the opportunity to experience a high-quality pre-kindergarten program.

In addition, KC Ready 4s partners with WMU’s Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology and Department of Occupational Therapy to offer speech, hearing, and language screenings, and gross and fine motor development screenings. To engage and empower families, KC Ready 4s offers workshops to strengthen the connection between what happens in the classroom and the home, and also works with school districts to assist children and families with the transition between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

www.kcready4s.org

Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) / Vine Neighborhood Association

FOSTERING CREATIVITY AND CONFIDENCE

Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) was born of the need for students to have places outside of school to foster their growth as writers and to nurture confidence in their own minds — places that provide positive adult interaction and supportive community engagement from as soon as students are reading and writing, and throughout their time in school. The importance of supplying these supports is plain: not only is literacy essential for success in school and in the workplace, but it also reinforces communication skills and the capacity for healthy lives and relationships. RAWK offers opportunities for building these fundamentals and a means for the larger community to support students in their growth.

RAWK endeavors to foster a culture of literacy with students and their families, and creates an opportunity for local colleges and the greater community to contribute to the success of each student through volunteer commitments and events. RAWK maintains a warm and creative environment, a safe space in which students may express themselves, develop positive relationships with people of all ages, and build self-esteem. Poetry, journalism, fiction, reader’s theater workshops, and classes culminate in publications and live readings, which the students present to the public. Through projectbased learning, small groups, and a low adult-to-student ratio, RAWK offers students an environment free from the pressures of the school setting in which to develop and own their minds and voices.

www.readandwritekzoo.org

Kalamazoo Literacy Council

“We believe that literacy for one means change for all.” The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of illiterate adults through free one-on-one programs designed to develop reading, writing and spelling skills. Through the council’s efforts we hope to also educate the public about the crisis of illiteracy and bring together a community with a common goal of making Kalamazoo County 100 percent literate. For 40 years the KLC has recruited, trained and equipped volunteers to tutor adults in need of literacy services. Currently, the KLC has 186 active tutors assisting 265 adults in need of literacy education. It has established 10 Community Literacy Centers that provide quality adult literacy services at the neighborhood level. It has built a functional community-wide collaborative whose collective work has positive impacts on a local, regional and state level. The agencies of the Adult Literacy Collaborative of Kalamazoo County led by the KLC are serving more than 1,700 adult learners who are reading below the 6th grade level. The KLC is now the preeminent messenger and advocate for adult literacy in Kalamazoo County. In Kalamazoo County, over 25,000 people or 13% of adults cannot read a simple story to a child, an intersection on a map, a prescription label, or total purchases from an order form. They struggle daily to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as parents, community members, and employees because they lack basic reading skills. To make some demonstrable progress in this area, the KLC and its collaborating organizations have set a goal of collectively reaching no less than 20% annually (approximately 5,000) within three years, with increasing numbers served each year beyond. To achieve this, the KLC launched the ENT-R (Everyone Needs to Read) Adult Literacy Initiative in January 2011 to mobilize new and existing community assets to build a comprehensive system that provides literacy education to adults in the county and strengthens and sustains the administrative and programmatic infrastructure that provides these services.

www.kalamazooliteracy.org

The Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center at WMU

The Archives and Regional History Collections at Western Michigan University have the responsibility and honor of housing historical documents from across the region and state, as well as providing an accessible location that allows for research and learning. A new building is under construction on Oakland Drive that will bring together all of the regional history and archives collections. The Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center (Center) will offer an environment conducive to discovering the past while welcoming the greater community to research and learn.

The state-of-the-art building will not only feature spacesaving storage technology that will make all documents easy to access, but also provide climate controls to preserve the condition of those items. The building is aiming for LEED Certification through the use of sustainable materials and efficient heating, cooling, and electrical operations. The Center will preserve the documents of the past and allow for the continual growth of the collections by providing a place for the community, and future generations, to celebrate history.

The Center, set for completion in the fall of 2013, is not just an educational asset, it is also a community resource. In 1962 the University Archives and Regional History Collections were designated as a repository for regional history by the Michigan Historical Commission. The collection contains documents from 12 southwest Michigan counties including court documents, civil records, photographs, maps, and more. Holdings include the archives for the Kalamazoo Gazette, letters from the Civil War, and the French-Michilimackinac Research and Translation Project. Free and open to the public, the Center will serve as an accessible resource for the entire southwest Michigan community. From K-12 students working on school assignments, to youth engaged in projects for their after-school programs, to college students conducting research for history theses, to adults exploring family histories, the Center will be open to all.

www.wmich.edu/library/collections/archives

Kalamazoo Public Schools (Kalamazoo Arts Integration Initiative)

The Kalamazoo Arts Integration Initiative (KAII), begun in 2003, has focused on forming partnerships with teachers and artists in the Kalamazoo Public Schools in order to create meaningful arts-integrated curriculum. During its first 10 years, KAII has worked to build community by further developing and nurturing partnerships with local community groups, businesses, cultural organizations, institutions of higher education and parents to enhance understanding, resources and support for arts education.

KAII provides educational opportunities for classroom teachers and students to use the arts as a vehicle for learning. In turn these opportunities encourage imagination and, therefore, creativity in the classroom. As education expert and MacArthur Fellow Robert Root-Bernstein has written, “Learning to think creatively in one discipline opens the door to understanding creative thinking in all disciplines. Educating this universal creative imagination is the key to producing lifelong learners capable of shaping the innovations of tomorrow.” (Preface, Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People 1999).

KAII’s learning opportunities come in myriad ways. For example, Northglade Montessori Magnet School elementary students are learning, studying and understanding science curriculum — specifically, animal habitats, weather, life cycles and water cycles — by making connections with art and nature. Through KAII they are engaged in meaningful learning experiences where they are active participants in their education. In this unit students are listening and dancing to Vivaldi’s, The Four Seasons; creating weather events through music and dance improvisation; creating original music and movement to children’s literature (The Hungry Caterpillar, for example); creating an original book with student photography, printing, creative writing, papermaking and binding; and creating an original song about habitats with local songwriter, Steve Barber.

In the after-school Declaration Tree and Hope Quilt projects, students have used literacy strategies to brainstorm, describe, design and fashion collaborative works of visual art and creative writing for installations and permanent displays throughout the community. These projects build supportive bridges providing young artists from lowincome homes an opportunity to participate in a public reception and exhibit. Students are engaged in a positive and enriching art experience where they share ideas with each other and members of the community, being embraced by a community that has involved them in all stages of the project — design, creation, discussion and exhibition.

As a cross-curricular, multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to education, KAII offers much more than traditional curriculum alone. Indeed, through creative, self-expressive, multi-cultural experiences, KAII fosters increased academic achievement, healthy social and emotional development, and an enriched quality of life.