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University of Iowa News Release

 

October 11, 2007

Photos: Students from McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids visit the University of Iowa in April as part of the McKinley African American Awareness Program

Belin-Blank Center, College of Education Diversity Committee receive award

The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the University of Iowa College of Education Diversity Committee received a Special Service to Education Award from the Cedar Rapids School District Tuesday, Oct. 9, during the District Recognition of School and Community Partnerships Celebration at Viola Gibson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids.

The Belin-Blank Center and UI College of Education Diversity Committee were nominated for this award by staff with the McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids in recognition of their partnership with the McKinley African American Awareness Program (MAAAP). The Special Service to Education award celebrates the collaboration between school and community partnerships dedicated to helping students achieve.

"We, at the Belin-Blank Center, are dedicated to engaging educational communities in meaningful ways," said Malik Henfield, administrator for diversity initiatives at the Belin-Blank Center. "For that reason, this award is extremely special in that it acknowledges our core values, which include nurturing potential and inspiring excellence."

In April, 28 students visited the UI campus to meet community members and interact with college students and personnel through MAAAP. During the visit, students participated in a book study organized and funded by the Belin-Blank Center and the UI College of Education Diversity Committee.

"Through our reading and discussion groups, we learned so much from each other. It was a wonderful learning experience for faculty, staff and students at McKinley Middle School and the UI as well," said John Achrazoglou, chairman of the Diversity Committee and an adjunct faculty member and director of the Education Technology Center in the UI College of Education.

The partnership between the Belin-Blank Center, Diversity Committee and MAAP has given students inspiration for the future, Achrazoglou said.

"Many of our students had never had the opportunity to be on a college campus or ever interact with college students," said Tashona Marshall, MAAAP director at McKinley Middle School. "It made it hard for our students to dream about attending college. However, this program allows our students to have this opportunity, and through this opportunity, this once distant conversation held in a classroom at McKinley became a dream worth pursuing. For simply helping us teach our students to dream, we will always be grateful."

The MAAAP serves 35 students with a 2.5 GPA or greater. The Belin-Blank Center and the UI College of Education Diversity Committee staff said they are looking forward to this year's MAAAP collaboration activities with the UI.

"The McKinley outreach is a wonderful opportunity for the MAAAP students as well as our College of Education staff and students," said Clar Baldus, a member of the UI College of Education Diversity Committee and administrator of rural school programs at the Belin-Blank Center. "The project uses a book discussion format which provides 'common ground' for the group members to get to know each other. We are excited about this collaboration and hope to get even more College of Education students involved in this year's MAAAP activities."

The College of Education Diversity Committee is an active advisory committee that is composed of faculty, staff and students. Membership is voluntary and includes persons from a diverse range of ethnic/cultural, gender, sexual/affectional orientation and professional backgrounds. For more information, visit http://www.education.uiowa.edu/diversity/index.html.

The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development is part of the UI College of Education. For more information on the Belin-Blank Center, visit http://www.education/uiowa.edu/belinblank/.

Founded in 1872, the University of Iowa College of Education was the nation's first permanent college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as Rehabilitation Counseling, Testing and Measurement, Counseling Psychology, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education and Higher Education Administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Clar Baldus, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148, clar-baldus@uiowa.edu; John Achrazoglou, College of Education Diversity Committee, 319-335-5620, john-achrazoglou@uiowa.edu; Lois Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077, lois-gray@uiowa.edu; Writer: Stacie Carpenter