Noel Education Center

Noel Education Center

Giving our kids a better environment to heal, learn and grow.

Our kids require more patience, more time learning life skills, and different approaches for their education. Cunningham serves students who need intensive special education services as well as therapeutic treatment for their emotional and behavioral challenges. Through exemplary programs and services, our youth develop the learning and coping skills needed to be successful in public schools.

As you can imagine, a well-designed education environment is critical to their success and in early 2019, Cunningham was able to give our youth just that. The Rosann Gelvin Noel Education Center (Noel Education Center/NEC) became home to our students in January and February of 2019. The NEC moved our students from multiple outdated buildings into one 50,100 square foot state-of-the-art building designed specifically for kids with special needs.

The Noel Education Center is home to:

  • CIRCLE Academy Education Program (Urbana)
  • Gerber Education Program
  • Coach Lou and Mary Henson Gymnasium
  • Beulah and Edward Schmidt Cafeteria

There is ample space in the Noel Education Center to work in groups or individually. There are sensory rooms with equipment to help teach self-regulation and build motor skills. The acoustics, lighting, and furnishings in the NEC will be selected to meet the kids’ special needs. Cunningham’s educational, recreational, and therapeutic programs are now under one roof so teachers, therapists, and other staff can work more closely together on each student’s individual needs. 

Cunningham Children’s Home has a proud 127-year history of helping children in the darkest of situations rise up to live a healthy, meaningful, and successful life. Even with aging and inadequate facilities prior to the NEC, progress was witnessed each and every day.

Just imagine the impact the new Noel Education Center is having on our Cunningham kids today! Read more: Welcome to Paradise

Our thanks

When we began fundraising for this facility, it seemed like just a dream but thanks to so many, it has become a reality. Thank you to all who have invested in our students through this project. Your support gives our students the chance to engage in learning in a way that meets their behavioral challenges. Because of the traumatic experiences in their early life, our kids struggle to stay quiet and focused in the classroom. But the Rosann Gelvin Noel Education Center (NEC) offers versatile space so they remain calm and engaged in the lesson. And the Coach Lou and Mary Henson Gymnasium (Henson Gym) provides them a beautiful venue for physical fitness and competition.
Cunningham has been able to count on friends to provide everything from a brand new building to the valued extras like smartboards, therapy tools, and specialized curriculum. Our students flourish with individualized attention from highly-trained special education teachers, behavioral interventionists, therapists, and other staff who have expertise in helping them heal and learn.


You can still help

While our students are finding successes in the NEC and Henson Gym, the construction and operating costs remain. Your gift will provide the best possible education for our very deserving kids! Click on GIVE NOW, designate the NEC and complete a credit card gift. You may also contact Tim Manard, Development Officer, at 217.337.9071 or He is happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.