The Parkland College Blog

Parkland's Child Development Center Receives Gold Circle of Quality

Shows continuous quality improvement commitment to children in Champaign

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Parkland College's Child Development Center received the Gold Circle of Quality designation from ExceleRate Illinois, the state's new quality recognition and improvement system for early learning and development providers.

"Every early learning and development provider who participates in ExceleRate Illinois makes quality a priority," said Cynthia L. Tate Ph.D., Executive Director, Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development. "The higher the designation, the higher the program's demonstrated quality and comprehensiveness in meeting children's early learning needs."

"We are proud to receive the Gold Circle of Quality," said Adrienne Shockley, director of the Child Development Center. "Providing quality in early learning and development will help our children in Champaign be better prepared for success in school and in life."

ExceleRate Illinois helps families make more informed choices about their children's early learning. It establishes standards to help infants, toddlers, and preschoolers develop intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. Additionally, it provides a framework for early learning and development professionals to identify opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Research in science and brain development shows that children who are more meaningfully engaged in early learning experiences from infancy through the first five years of life are more likely to be successful in school and in life. With the right engagement, children can form a healthy foundation of neural pathways in the brain, which impact their ability to think, react, process, and grow.

ExceleRate Illinois is a comprehensive system that includes Licensed Child Care Centers, Licensed Family Child Care, Preschool for All and Center-Based Prevention Initiative Programs, Head Start and Early Head Start Programs.

For more information or to find a Child Care Resource & Referral Agency in your area, visit

ExceleRate Illinois is administered through INCCRRA under the joint direction of the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois State Board of Education.

For more information about Parkland's Child Development Center, visit

Parkland College Day of Giving is March 31

Parkland College Foundation to host Day of Giving fundraiser, March 31

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The Parkland College Foundation will be hosting the 2021 Day of Giving scholarship fundraiser on Wednesday, March 31.

Starting at 12 a.m. and running to midnight, individuals, businesses, and groups are asked to visit, search for a fund they care about (scholarships, Athletics, etc.), and donate any amount.

During the 2020 Parkland Day of Giving, the community raised over $74,000 that went directly to Parkland College and thousands of deserving students.

The 2020 #ParklandGivingDay donations provided:

  • Over $56,800 in scholarships helping students with tuition, fees, and books

  • $13,300 to the Creating Impact fund, which supports the greatest needs of the college

  • Nearly $4,500 went directly to academic programs to enhance instruction across campus


Every donation impacts a worthy student at Parkland. "As a donor, you are a part of the story of changing my life and the life of my family," said one recipient in their thank you letter. "I look forward to the day when I can give back in the same way."

"My time has been spent divided between whether I could afford time to work or study. Financially, I have managed to scrape by just barely," said another. "Now I can breathe a sigh of relief. You have my sincerest thanks, not just for the scholarship, but for the feeling that someone out there appreciates what I'm doing and is lending me a helping hand."

On Wednesday, March 31, the Foundation will once again accept donations and funds for Parkland College and its students.

Ways to give:

GEER Up Now Accepting Applications for Summer 2021

Parkland Program Offers Free Classes to Area High Schoolers

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Parkland College's GEER Up program is returning this summer to help eligible area high school students transition to college with free credit-earning classes and is accepting applications.

Funded by the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund announced last year, GEER Up will serve an additional 50 students this summer, according to Lisa Lyne, program manager for Early College Services.

"We've been pleased with the success of the program so far," said Lyne. "It's important to us that our area students have the opportunity to prepare for college, no matter where they go."

GEER Up assists high school students interested in dual enrollment classes at Parkland College and who are facing increased financial hardship. The program provides eligible students up to $2,500 in assistance for tuition, fees, books, and technology in an award package determined by the student's chosen program of study.

While the program aims to expand access to dual enrollment classes for District 505's low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation high school students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Parkland College's efforts to serve these populations doesn't stop there.

"GEER Up ensures that our students are able to access and find success in Parkland career programs," said Lyne. "A major goal of the program is to help these students transition smoothly to higher education through academic support, access to academic advising, and financial literacy coaching."

The program requires that students take First Year Experience 101, which helps them with self-assessment, goal-setting, educational and career planning, time management, interpersonal communication, and personal development. In addition, students receive support from faculty mentors, and can choose to take additional coursework to earn credits.

Parkland College is currently accepting applications for the GEER Up program.

Summer Session 2021 begins on May 17. All high school students may apply, including 2021 high school graduates. Applications are available and submitted at Academic advising is available to students upon application.

For more information, please visit or contact the Early College Office at or 217/353-2663.

Celebrate the Arts! Youth Art Contest Announces Winners

Winners and honorable mentions announced for Community Education and Giertz Gallery's art competition

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Community Education and Giertz Gallery have announced the winners for their first ever Celebrate the Arts! Youth Art Contest. The juried competition was featured in an online Zoom webinar on March 9 during which student artwork was displayed and placements were named. First place winners (out of 115 participants) in the three age categories received a full scholarship to a Parkland summer camp.

Congratulations to all the winners, and to all the wonderful, talented young artists who participated!


Age Category 7-10

  1. Aniyah Hunter, “Stroll in the Park,” drawing

  2. Anna Yim, “Bunny,” drawing

  3. Edward Zhang, “Noodle,” drawing

  4. Honorable mentions:

    Noah Resendiz (“The First Night of Fall,” painting), Joseph Chahyadi (“Eiffel Tower,” sculpture), Lily Ana Kelly (“A World Not Lost,” collage), Heather Gillespie (“Self-Portrait,” painting), Avery Dunn (“Husky,” painting)


Age Category 11-13

  1. Iain Marx, “Untitled,” collage

  2. Jamison Griffen, “Beauty in its Time,” sculpture

  3. Virginia Roderick, “Venus Flytrap,” drawing

  4. Honorable mentions:

    Kenly Downey (“Gold Halo,” watercolor, colored pencil), Hannah Baer-Shapiro (“Sunny Lady,” painting), Oz Green (“Esprit de la Foret,” drawing) Morgan Mohr (“Sunset on the Lake,” photography)


Age Category 14-18

  1. Amelia Case, “Ghost Town,” ink pen drawing

  2. Veronica Schuchart, “Still of Pepper,” painting

  3. Hannah Luening, “Isaac,” scratchboard drawing

  4. Honorable mentions:

    Grace Kahler (“Bike Ride,” photography), Jada Raynolds (“Perfection,” digital art), Alyssa Pankau (“Reflection,” photography), Maggie Neff (“Untitled,” drawing), Sydney Marshall (“Untitled,” scratchboard), Reese San Diego (“Hot Pot,” digital art), Drew Diesburg (“JDM Legend,” scratchboard), Kayla Wilson (“A Night Drive,” painting)


Parkland Trustee Steps Down, Board Sets Date For Vacancy Discussion

Westfield steps down as Parkland Trustee

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Mr. Jonathan Westfield has announced his resignation from the Board of Trustees of Parkland College, District 505, leaving a vacancy.

Westfield was appointed as a Parkland Trustee in October 2017 to replace a resigning member, then elected to a six-year term from 2019-2025. Mr. Westfield is a retired Champaign Police Officer and former Champaign Unit 4 School District board member. During his tenure as Trustee, he frequently called on his experience working with youth in the community and participated in community college advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels.

"We wish Mr. Westfield well in his future endeavors and have appreciated and benefited from his contributions as a Trustee of Parkland College," said President Thomas Ramage.

The Board of Trustees has set a special meeting for April 14, following the upcoming election, to discuss next steps to fill the vacancy in closed session. The individual selected to fill the vacancy will serve until the next regular election in April 2023 per state statute.

Questions can be directed to Krystal Garrett at 217/351-2533 or