Education and Family

Esther Max / Flicker via Creative Commons

A pair of grants will allow Illinois State University's Mennonite College of Nursing to address the diversity of the nursing workforce and help nurses find a place where they are most needed.

Steve Rainwater / Flickr

John Freml grew up in a Catholic family and attended parochial schools. He is an active member at his parish in Springfield and says he loves the Catholic Mass.

Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

The Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest denominations in the country, voted recently to denounce white supremacy and the alt-right movement, but not without controversy.

Muppetmindset / wordpress.com

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on Sesame Street? Paul Rudolph doesn't have to guess. He works there.

Rudolph, who grew up in Normal, is the vocal music director of the show. As such, he wears many hats—composing, arranging and recording many of those catchy tunes that stick in the minds of children and not a few adults. He recently won his second Emmy for music editing on the show.

African American Advisory Council / Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

In McLean County, some 222 children in foster care are currently waiting for the chance to find a permanent home. 

Of those children, 88 are African American. They make up about 40 percent of the children in foster care, but last year accounted for only about 26 percent of the permanent adoptions.

Baby Fold

The Baby Fold's Residential Treatment Center for children and teens who suffer emotional difficulties due to abuse and neglect will close at the end of the month -- another casualty of the Illinois budget impasse.

The Pritts Family

A once in a lifetime trip for most people has rolled to a stop for the Pritts family.

In June 2016, Jeff, the former manager of the Uptown Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and Marci,who worked for a non-profit foundation, headed east on a 13,000 mile, 10-month trip that took them, their kids, a Great Dane, a second dog, and a cat  through 30 states with 70 stops.  

Julien Harnels / Flickr

Like many Americans, Gretchen Snow  was horrified at the photos of a drowned Syrian refugee child who washed up on the shores of Greece. Then there were the images of African families fleeing violence in their villages, walking on dirt roads, children in tow and their  belongings on their backs.

Snow decided she had to act. She was not alone.

Devon Buchanan / Creative Commons

Anonymous websites like Anon-IB that post nude photographs of women are difficult to control because the law has not kept up with the technology that makes these sites possible.

Pete Sousa / Official White House Photo

A growing number of school-age children have experienced some form of trauma or emotional difficulty. That often translates into behavioral problems both within the family and at school.

Increasingly, however, schools are attempting to prevent and address those problems through a variety of services, according to Brenda Huber, director of the Psychological Services Center at Illinois State University, and Mark Jontry, regional schools superintendent for McLean, Livingston, Logan and DeWitt counties.

Justin A. Wilcox / Creative Commons

When a person is experiencing an emotionally difficult period, often the first stop in seeking help is with a pastor or another trusted spiritual adviser.

That's why churches and faith groups across denominations are increasingly focusing on the mental well-being of their congregation members, says Patricia Turner, outreach director for Center for Hope International Ministries, an independent, non-denominational Christian church in Bloomington.

"I'm glad that this is one of the stops people can make," Turner said on GLT's Sound Ideas.

Kingsley Jr. High Dress Code Conversation Grows

May 11, 2017
WGLT

Concerned parents want the Unit Five School Board to lighten up on the dress code and focus on what they view as more important issues. 

Kingsley Junior High's Principal recently told parents to curb female clothing, but did not mention male attire in the message.

A group told the school board being an adolescent is already a difficult time and that degrading actions by classmates can make the teenage years even worse.

Baylee Steelman / WGLT

Students at Bloomington High School are helping children with special needs enjoy their time at the early childhood preschool unit in Sarah Raymond School.

The District 87 School Board is praising two freshman for remodeling small battery powered vehicles, so kids with disabilities can drive at a walking pace. Student Reed Shoemaker said the process was a challenge, but rewarding.

Gail Franklin / Western Avenue Community Center

Many social service workers burn out long before the quarter century mark. Not so Socorro Alvarez, the Hispanic Outreach director for the past 25 years at Bloomington's Western Avenue Community Center.

Judith Valente / GLT News

You don't normally expect to hear the words cancer and gift in the same sentence. But that is how Marcia O'Donnell, a Community Cancer Center patient, describes her life since her diagnosis of advanced breast cancer.

O'Donnell is a former mental health professional and mother of two small children.

She credits her positive outlook, in part, to being able to share her questions, fears and sometimes overwhelming emotions with Cancer Center chaplain Cheryl-Peterson Karlan.

Initially, though O'Donnell didn't even want to meet with the chaplain. 

Judith Valente / GLT News

Cheryl Peterson-Karlan, the chaplain at the Community Cancer Center in Normal, says her job is about listening to people, meeting them where they are, and if possible, helping them find hope.

Carlos R / Pexels

How much skin is too much skin to show at school?

That's a question swirling around Kingsley Junior High School in Normal after the principal sent out a dress code edict prohibiting clothing that reveals bare shoulders, bra straps, midriff or cleavage.

 

Hospice Chaplain Kerry Egan says she doesn't know if listening to people's life stories as the confront death can make a person wise.

"I do know it can heal your soul. I know this because the stories healed mine."

Mike Miletich / WGLT

The Unit Five School Board is starting a new journey without two long-term members.

The board is recognizing Gail Ann Briggs and John Puzauskas for a combined 65 years of service.

Baylee Steelman

The District 87 School Board will be under new leadership.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The future of Planned Parenthood across Illinois is far from certain. But its services don't appear to be under immediate threat from a recent directive from President Trump.

That measure would allow state and local governments to withhold Title X family planning funds from health facilities that also provide abortion services.

McLean County's sole Planned Parenthood clinic would not be affected because it doesn't perform abortions. Additionally,  all Planned Parenthood clinics statewide receive Title X funds as a direct grantee of the federal government and not through the state, said Julie Lynn of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 

However, women's reproductive services, especially for low income residents, remain a target of many federal and state officials, Lynn said.

Prairerth Farm

A farmer and an extension agent agree there are a number of issues hurting small organic farmers in Illinois and one of them is that a growing number of people don't know how to cook. 

Baylee Steelman

District 87 schools Superintendent Barry Reilly said he could not be more proud of the success stories from Bloomington High School students. 

Illinois State University

In an incident that shocked the nation, the apparent gang rape of a 15-year-old Chicago girl was broadcast live on Facebook  last month. Dozens viewed the assault before it was taken down. No one apparently notified authorities.

The incident is part of a growing phenomenon in which assailants brazenly post video or images of sexual assaults on social media sites. 

Baylee Steelman / WGLT

A local organization is working to add South Asians living in Bloomington-Normal to the conversation on equality and acceptance.

Evans Jr. High School

The new Principal at Evans Jr. High school is a familiar face around Unit 5 schools. 

Chris McGraw currently serves as the Associate Principal and Athletic Director at Evans.

District 87

Unit Five Schools are updating policies to deal with student concussions and head injuries. 

School Board Member Barry Hitchins said the new procedures will also cover injuries that happen during recess, P.E. courses, and after school activities such as marching band. 

McLean County Unit Five

Normal Community High School's new principal is a familiar face in Unit 5 schools.

The school board announced Trevor Chapman as the next principal during Wednesday night's meeting. Chapman has served as the head of Evans Junior High School since 2014.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The Children's Home and Aid Regional Office in Bloomington received rare good news late last year when it received a $577,000 grant from the Illinois Board of Education. The money was targeted to expand the agency's "Preschool For All" and "Prevention Initiative" programs that combined serve children from birth to age 5. 

Korn Unews / Flickr via Creative Commons

Editors Note: Last spring during our interview series Stretched Thin, we reported on the impact of the state budget impasse on local social service agencies. There's still no budget. In our new series Stretched Thinner, we check back with those social social service agencies. 

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