Graduation Elf

Graduation Elf

Christmastime at Cunningham is one of the busiest times of year and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Luckily, the Advancement team had its own "elf" to help with the hustle and bustle of the season.

Danielle has been a student at our CIRCLE Academy since February of 2016 and has presented many behavioral challenges. But the services and support she has received at CIRCLE and through the Vocational Options (Options) program, helped her reach her goal to graduate early at the end of the Fall semester.

"Our staff worked closely with Danielle and her mother to develop interventions that worked towards her success as a student and as an individual," CIRCLE Urbana Principal Charles Hogue said. ‘She has a deep sense of justice and equity and always tries to help her fellow students to problem solve issues they are dealing with. She draws from her own personal experiences when she gives peers advice."

CIRCLE and Options staff focused on Danielle’s individual needs and strengths, both academically and behaviorally, and helped to reduce her incidents of aggression, allowing her to mature and develop as a student and as a person.

"The Voc Options program has helped me with my mindset, independence and working at different paces," Danielle said. "It has motivated me to actually get me up on my feet. I have learned patience and communication and I continue to receive the support and help I need."

As a participant in Options and to meet the goal to graduate early, Danielle worked in the Advancement Department throughout the fall semester and was especially helpful during the month of December.

"Danielle has been wonderful to work with," Brooke, Associate Director of Advancement, said. "She is detail-oriented and asks a lot of questions. Once you give her a task, she knocks it out and does it very well. Among many other assignments, she helped organize Christmas items for our Holiday Pop Up Bazaar and with preparations for our Luminaries of Hope event. She’s been like Santa’s little helper."

The Options program helps individuals become self-sufficient through training, support and real-world experiences and has been instrumental in Danielle’s development. The program is helping to shape her future.

Danielle graduated from CIRCLE’s high school program earlier this month. Because of her positive experience with the Options program, she plans to continue to volunteer with the Advancement Department in 2022 as she finds the right “real world” job she wants to do.

"Voc Options is a highly supportive program," Danielle said. "It has helped me with my social, communication and working skills. It has given me a different outlook on life."

You, too, can give Cunningham kids HOPE for a better future. Give today.