Two Teachers to Receive Cupcake Awards from CU Schools Foundation

Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation will honor Mary Coash, Kindergarten Teacher at Westview Elementary, Champaign Unit 4 and Jessica Wilson, Special Education High School teacher at Gerber School, Urbana District 116 with 2016 Cupcake Awards. Selected teachers are nominated by their peers and exhibit exemplary service, extra efforts, enthusiastic attitude and innovative ideas that noticeably benefit their students.

Mary Coash currently teaches Kindergarten at Westview Elementary, but she has played many roles during her 31 years in education. As Mary says, “I always had the right job at the right time.” Her students taught her to stay flexible and open to new ideas, and she adapts her teaching to meet the needs of her students.

Mary believes Kindergarten is the foundation of learning. “I want my kids to love school and love learning. I enjoy teaching Kindergarten because you see so much growth.” A fellow teacher says, “The feeling of Mary’s class is one of warmth, acceptance and love. She highlights students’ strengths each day and reteaches when a student struggles with a concept.” Mary also serves as the PTA liaison, co-writes school wide “Cool Tool” lessons and participates in many school initiatives.

Urbana District 116 teacher Jessica Wilson has been teaching high school students at Gerber School for the past seven years, and says she “absolutely LOVES it!” Gerber School serves students who live at Cunningham Children’s Home and many of the students have significant behavior and/or emotional disabilities. Jessica especially enjoys the students at Gerber and claims, “They teach me more than I teach them, especially about resiliency, patience, the ability to trust and how to be strong.”

A colleague at Gerber says, “These students require some special teaching talents in order to engage them in learning. Jess has just those skills! She is a master at creating a safe environment in which each student is valued and in which they can grow in all areas.” In addition, Jessica is a quiet leader who participates in the Urbana School District 116 Unified Professional Development Program. She learns new ideas, shares them with fellow teachers and bring fresh enthusiasm to her team.

Both teachers will receive a $500 grant for their classrooms and will be honored on Saturday, April 2 at the 2016 CUSF Gala at the Hilton Garden Inn. In addition, CUSF will recognize 5 graduates of our local public high schools with three awards: Distinguished Alumni Award, Local Hero Award and Local Business Community Impact Award. The event is open to the public with advance ticket purchase. For tickets or additional information visit: or call 217-398-2873. Deadline for ticket purchase is March 26. Proceeds from ticket sales support the mission of CUSF and our schools.