Aligned with the mission of the University of Illinois as a land grant institution and with the goals of the College of Education, the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities serves as a vital resource to local school districts and educators. The Center works collaboratively with local education agencies to create sustainable improvement in education. The core focus of the Center is to collaboratively plan and sustain long-term, job-embedded professional learning experiences for teachers. The Center partners with local schools to conduct research on these collaborative efforts in order to further understanding of what works and to explore ways to grow such efforts. The importance of the research, service, and outreach that the Center provides is based on the critical need to support the success of our schools and its students. To date, our collaborative work has resulted in expanding the capacity of local schools to deliver quality instruction as well as the establishment of other meaningful partnerships supporting literacy, mathematics, and second-language learning.
Lila Moore and Victor Perez have received Those Who Excel awards from the Illinois State Board of Education for their work with SOAR (Student Opportunities for After-School Resources), an afterschool volunteer tutoring program that provides literacy support and homework help to emergent Latina/o bilingual/biliterate students in grades 2-5.
The two will be honored with awards of merit Oct. 22 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel, with Perez traveling to the event to accept the award on behalf of SOAR.
Perez is the coordinator of operations in the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. He has focused on P-16 research projects, public policy, higher education, diversity, and equity issues in education for more than a decade. Perez said the center benefits greatly from the tutoring sessions Illinois students provide weekly at the International Prep Academy in Champaign.
“It is truly impressive to have over 120 undergraduate students from across campus take time out of their busy schedules to tutor at least two hours per week,” Perez said. “These undergraduate students certainly represent the very best of the University of Illinois and are making a positive impact on the academic achievement of local elementary students.”
SOAR is a partnership between the College of Education at Illinois and the Champaign Unit 4 School District, a collaboration Perez looks forward to continuing and building upon for many years.
Moore is the former program coordinator of the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. She moved with her husband to Oregon in May but has continued to volunteer for the College, working remotely on the planning of the Oct. 20-22 Youth Literature Festival (YLF).
“I can’t imagine trying to organize this festival without Lila’s advice and assistance,” said Linda Tammen, coordinator of YLF.
According to a Unit 4 press release, candidates are nominated by the district or members of the community. Winners are chosen for their community involvement, views on the state’s most pressing educational needs, and outstanding service to students.