Congratulations 2020 CUSF Shining Star Award Recipients 

Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF) has honored Darcy Silver, Literacy Interventionist at Leal Elementary School in District 116, and Kirstin Sowers, K-12 ESL Coach/Coordinator in Unit 4 with the 2020 Shining Star Awards (formerly known as the Cup Cake Awards). Selected teachers are nominated by their peers and exhibit exemplary service, extra efforts, enthusiastic attitude and innovative ideas that noticeably benefit their students.

Darcy Silver
Darcy Silver, Literacy Interventionist, Urbana District 116 Schools

Darcy Silver, has been working in the Urbana Schools since 2006. She has served in numerous roles focusing on early childhood education including; classroom teaching, kindergarten transition team coordinator, working with at-risk students in the 21st Century SPLASH program, and developing Literacy and Science Night activities for students and families. Her nominator notes, “Darcy’s strength is working alongside classroom teachers to strategically identify students who need additional support and then collaborating to provide activities and instruction which help these students develop as readers and writers. She always includes social-emotional learning in her lessons and looks for ways to foster positive learning experiences that develop confidence and wellbeing in her students.”


Kiri Sowers
Kiri Sowers, ESL K-12 Coordinator, Champaign Unit 4 Schools

Kirstin (Kiri) Sowers has been devoted to English Language Learning acquisition for nearly 20 years. In her current role Kiri serves as the English as a Second Language Coordinator for all K-12 schools in Unit 4. Twenty-three of her peers presented support for Kiri’s recognition for this year’s Shining Star Award. Her nominators recognize Kiri as an “exemplary teacher, coach and leader; who initiates meaningful dialogue about the challenges of teaching language learners while providing strategies for success.” One nominator says, “Kiri mentors by showing teachers unwavering acceptance for their expertise and skills while at the same time pushing them to learn new strategies to elevate learning.” “Kiri advocates for our multilingual learners and acknowledges that they have much to share with their peers, teachers and schools.”

Both teachers will receive a $500 grant from CUSF for their classrooms. The mission of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation is to invest in educators and students by supporting creativity, innovation and excellence in Champaign and Urbana public schools. For more information call 217-398-2873

2020 Napleton’s Teacher of the Year Awards to be announced soon!