Gerber School's art classroom was a hive of activity on Jordan's* first day at Cunningham. In one corner, a girl wearing an over-sized apron hunched over a pottery wheel. Across the room, a boy carefully sketched his favorite superhero, while another fashioned an abstract collage out of magazine photos and scraps of fabric. Jordan was having none of it.
It was a blustery day in early March but Paula Dowling, Assistant Principal at Cunningham’s CIRCLE Academy-Vermillion in Rossville, and Barbara Miller, the school’s Academic Coordinator, hardly noticed because their hearts were warmed by an achievement of one of their students. Daniel, a junior at CIRCLE-Vermilion, was one of more than 190 high school students from 20 area schools chosen to display their artwork at the 8th Annual Eric Show, held at the Illini Union Art Gallery on the University of Illinois campus.
"Wake up, Shawna," Allison prompted. "Why don't you come play this game with us?" Shawna struggled to open her eyes as her head slumped down on the table in Cunningham's Recreation Center. Just a bit earlier, she'd been running around her classroom, jumping on top of chairs; but now the summer heat had stopped her in her tracks.
The big block words on Kim's t-shirt say it all: YOU CAN'T SCARE ME, I HAVE KIDS. It's a phrase that speaks volumes for Kim and her husband, David.
Married for 12 years, with no children, but with plenty of love to give, Kim and David longed to be parents and knew they could provide a good home (and unconditional love) to children who needed both. David suggested foster care, and after much prayer and discussion with their immediate families, a decision was made five years ago. "Let's do it," said David.
"Watch me shoot from all the way over here!" 13-year-old Corbin shouted enthusiastically.
As the Olympic fanfare song filled the chapel, five youth formed a circle and stacked their hands on top of the others. In unison, their voices called out, "God, let us work together as your team. GO TEAM!"
When Tate first arrived at Cunningham, I couldn't help but focus on his angry eyes. But that's all changed. The first thing I notice now is his big grin.
Tate's case manager recalls a 12 year old boy arriving at Cunningham Children's Home with a lack of trust, loads of anger, and invisible walls meant to separate himself from everyone else. Creating barriers was a coping mechanism that Tate knew how to use well.