Carla Raynor, Coordinator of the Family Literacy Program in Adult Education and Transition Programs at Kishwaukee College, has been selected as the recipient of the United Way’s 2015 Spirit of Caring Award.
Raynor received the award for her work with the Learning for Life Program, a partnership between Kishwaukee College and Opportunity House, Inc. Raynor stated, “I am deeply honored to receive this award, but the real reward for me is to watch the Opportunity House students’ growth and dedication to their own learning. Personally, I am so proud of these students and how they put forth such effort and participate in class or tutoring. They are a wonderful example of dedicated students who are excited to learn!” Opportunity House, Inc., located in Sycamore and serving DeKalb County, assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work, live in homes of their choice, and enjoy community life. The Learning for Life program is a unique partnership between Opportunity House and Kishwaukee College. It began in 2009 with the first class taught by Raynor. She integrated readings, hands-on activities, field trips and homework and then developed other units based on the interests of the participating clients. Since then, the Learning for Life program has covered a wide range of subjects, including history, transportation, art, geography, science and more.
Carla Raynor’s passion in developing educational units based on clients’ interests has been key to success of Learning for Life. Through the program, the clients experience intellectually challenging materials that motivate and engage their interest and curiosity as it improves communication, academic, and social skills. The program has expanded and now includes a commencement ceremony held at Kishwaukee College for clients who complete Learning for Life Level I and there is a Level II in progress, with plans to add a Level III as well. To date, 29 Opportunity House clients have earned their Level I certificate; 82 clients have participated in at least one class; and 24 different classes have been offered.
Carol Parson from Opportunity House is one of the people who nominated Carla for the Spirit of Caring Award. She said, “I only experience a small portion of Carla’s passion, and it has been enjoyable and incredibly helpful in allowing our organization to bring continuing education into the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities. She is a wonderful role model for all of us.”
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