Two invitations

IEP - Interest Flyer

From Sheri Williamson:

I would like to extend an invitation to Unit 4 parents to participate in my new public affairs radio show on WEFT.

To give you background:

Beginning in September I will be starting my own public affairs radio show on WEFT 90.1. I’m hoping to use the show to address different issues in the community including those specifically related to education and our schools.

The show will be called “In the Know” and focus on spreading awareness around a variety of topics. I will have weekly guests, feature trending subtopics and research, and inform the community on where to find local services. I will also highlight how community members can get engaged and support local agencies and organizations who provide services.

Additionally, I’m planning on having a monthly discussion on my show with local parents and teachers. Some of the first topics I’ll be discussing are new ways for parents to engage – even outside of the PTA. This includes the possible formation of parent peer mentor groups. Other early topics include the show 13 Reasons Why, bullying, IEPs, and teaching empathy. 

I’m planning to live stream from the studio on Facebook as well as take questions via Facebook and Twitter before and during live broadcasts.

If you would be interested in being a guest on the show please feel free to email me: I would love for parents with experience and/or interest in lending their voices to these topics to be part of the discussions.

Sheri Williamson
(217) 721-6540





Two "Pack the House" events

Putting out the last-minute call to “pack the house” in two seemingly separate events:

  1. TONIGHT! The “town hall” meeting at the Mellon Center to discuss the future high school site. 6pm – 8pm
  2. NO MORE JAILS IN CHAMPAIGN COUNTY!!!” Tuesday, October 1st at 6 p.m. at the Brookens Admin Building, 1776 E. Washington, Urbana for a public meeting with Dr. Kalmanoff and the County Board. More info on the CUCPJ website

I say “seemingly separate” because most people probably think these two things have nothing in common. However, I would contend that they have a LOT in common, especially in our community. As we think about the future of public education in Champaign, we must also consider why we have so many fellow citizens in our jails. A measure of a successful public educational system should be how ready the graduates (all students, even those that drop out of the system) are to participate in and contribute to society. Overcrowded jails should be a shameful statistic for our entire community.

Some other events this week:

Anti-Bullying Moving Screening, Thursday, October 3rd at 5:30 pm, Centennial High School

A screening of the documentary Bully will kick off this evening. After the movie there will be a panel discussion to address questions, concerns and suggestions the audience has regarding the topic of bullying.

Included on the panel are:

  • Erika Harold, former Miss America
  • Dr. Dorothy Espelage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Michelle Petty, Eastern Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
  • Champaign Police Officer Ed Wachala, Centennial SRO
  • Principal Sara Sanders, Franklin Middle School
  • Dr. Susan Zola, Assistant Superintendent

This event is free and open to the Unit 4 community

Coming up:

PTA Safety Forum, October 23rd, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Southside Elementary School

Otis Noble III announces a workshop on bullying

uofi_community_conference_bullying The University of Illinois Office of Diversity, Equity and Access is sponsoring a Community Conference on Tuesday, February 19th.

“Crimes of hatred and prejudice are not just occurrences of America’s past, but continue to take place in our nation, including Central Illinois. This event is a commitment to preventing such crimes, and bringing to justice those who commit them, and to talking about social justice. The summit will explore the who, what, when, where and why of bullying, community violence and equity.”

Looks like quite a few well-known names will be involved, including Otis Noble III and Illinois AG Lisa Madigan. There will be two sets of presentations and panels, one for each of the morning and the afternoon.


Filling in details for the April 17th Open Forum

At our Houlihans meeting this afternoon, we covered a lot of ground. Much of it was discussing ideas for the April 17th Open Forum, although we did briefly talk about a certain candidate forum as well.

While I cannot say we have finalized anything, our Houlihans session was really good at uncovering some very nice ideas. For instance, next week we are planning on having “wondercards” (as Chuck calls them) at the open discussion on Tuesday; if you wonder about something, have an idea, a question or a comment, fill out a card. Our intention is to have a display board or three that we can group the cards on and at the end of the evening have a full board that we take pictures of and post online. These will be our proof that many people had a hand in developing ideas – far be it from us to be the sole voice. The whole point of these forums is to open up communication channels. We are also talking about using a 12-minute Ken Robinson video as a way to break the ice and jumpstart conversations.

An overall list of goals we think we want to address would be:

  • Communications: The current system of communication has a couple holes. We don’t necessarily have all the answers, but the major reason we are having these forums in the first place is to kick the tires, uncork our brains and see what happens.
  • Teacher/staff isolation: After talking with some teachers, we learned that some teachers would appreciate a little more support, and a little more connection with other teachers, not to mention with Administration and community members.
  • Student Climate: This one we intend to address bullying and lack of respect; not merely from students to teachers, but also the other way as well.

Again, this is just a working prototype, something to Read the rest of this entry »

Anti-Bullying Program tonight (Tuesday, Feb 21st)

Related to my previous post, here is another anti-Bullying session (hat tip to Will Kyles):

6:00pm – Anti-Bullying Program, sponsored by the NAACP Education Committee, Champaign Unit 4 Title I and Salem Baptist Church. Special Guests: Champaign Unit 4 School Superintendent Judy Wiegand and Urbana Assistant Police Chief/Newly Hired Champaign Chief of Police Anthony Cobb. Salem Baptist Church (500 E. Park. St., Champaign). Contact Cynthia Williams at 217-356-3214 for more information.

"Local Group Plans to Host Forum Series About Bullying"

I am shamelessly copying a Chambanamoms post (that is called syndication, right? :)). I have not really delved into this critical topic, but at some point I want to. Unfortunately, the first forum is tonight (in a mere 90 minutes).

A regional non-profit group is hosting a forum this evening — and twice a month from here on out — about the forms and effects of bullying.

The TALK Foundation, Taking Action, Loving Kids, is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the safety and well-being of children in the Champaign-Urbana area, says co-founder Kathy El Koury.

“While our current focus is bullying, we are interested in all issues that impact children, including sexual and physical abuse,” she tells

The first free event is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., tonight, Monday, Feb. 20, in the Robeson Pavillion at the Champaign Public Library, and attendees can expect to be introduced to the organization, and then people will be offered the chance to share their thoughts and experiences about bullying.

El Koury, who is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a therapist at Kevin Elliott Counseling, says that while bullying has been top of mind for many parents lately, especially after tragic incidents like the death of Ashlynn Conner, the fact is that bullies have been around since the beginning of time.

“It is true that bullying has occurred for many, many years,” she says. “However, that does not mean that it is acceptable.  During the forum tonight, I will discuss recent studies that indicate that being bullied has long-lasting effects on children.  Additionally, the children exhibiting the bullying behaviors also suffer long-term consequences as they continue such behaviors into adulthood.”

The TALK Foundation plans to host similar open forums every month in Champaign, every first and third Monday, at the library.

No child — whether they are the victim or the perpetrator — should suffer through bullying, says El Koury.

“The effects of bullying, on the victim and the child who is bullying, are not part of growing up,” she says.