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CIS Kalamazoo Honors Champs

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) held its annual Champs celebration virtually on Oct. 27, honoring volunteers and educators who have made a difference in the lives of children. 

This year’s Champs Award recipients are: 

Mikka Dryer — Dryer has been a volunteer at Milwood Magnet School: A Center for Math, Science and Technology for four years, and for the past three years has worked with a group of girls who are part of teacher Brandy Shook’s English as a Second Language class. 

Edison Science Club — For the past 16 years, science-focused individuals led by Zoetis volunteers have been making monthly visits to Edison Environmental Science Academy to give fifth graders an opportunity to participate in hands-on science experiments and discussions. Dominic Pullo and Dr. Paul Runnels accepted the award on behalf of the club. 

Family Health Center — Since 2006, the Family Health Center has worked with CIS to create an efficient and convenient system to provide thousands of KPS students with health care and dental care each year. Jeffrey Jousma, the mobile unit manager at the Family Health Center, accepted the award. 

Western Michigan University National Society of Black Engineers — These WMU engineering students take time out of their own academic schedules to offer Kalamazoo Central High School students homework support, math tutoring, and friendship. Max Doggett, the external chair of the group, accepted the award on behalf of the team. 

Howard Tejchma was honored with the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award. Tejchma has been volunteering at Arcadia Elementary School for the past decade. He works with groups of fifth-grade students, called his “lunch bunch.” They gather weekly to play games and learn life lessons. Tejchma also serves on the CIS Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council to help CIS strengthen and support volunteer efforts throughout the district. 

Dr. Sandy Standish was recognized with the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award. Standish was the founding executive director of Kalamazoo County Ready 4’s. Following her retirement after 32 years with Comstock Public Schools, Standish became the founding director of Kalamazoo County Ready 4s. 

She spent a decade in that position collaborating with community partners to build a system of high-quality pre-kindergarten programs accessible to all Kalamazoo County four year olds. 

Kalsec was the presenting sponsor for the 13th annual event which honors community partners who share their time and talents to create an engaged community where every child can fulfill his or her promise. “When I think about CIS, I think about an organization supporting education in every possible way,” says Dr. Scott Nykaza, CEO of Kalsec Inc. “I think about equity and how CIS levels the playing field so that all students are set up to succeed, and I think about the kindness of our community.”