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ISU and Westcott Elementary Commemorate Mentor Program with Tree Dedication


ISU mentors and Westcott mentees join together in planting the tree.

E. Sanders











Last week, Illinois State University (ISU) and Westcott Elementary students commemorated their mentorship experiences through the dedication of two new trees, planted in Westcott’s community garden. 

For the past year, ISU and Westcott students have come together through the mentoring program CONNECT (Civic Opportunities to Network Needs for Education and Community Transformation) - an initiative supported by the university’s American Democracy Project which promotes empowerment through interactive skill building activities.

ISU and Westcott students form a Peace Circle and share stories about their mentorship experience.

E. Sanders

“This event shows the empowerment on the students’ part,” says Dr. Gary Creasey, ISU Professor and Director of CONNECT.  The students’ program also highlights the continued partnership between Illinois State’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline™ and the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GADC).  As part of the day’s event, the students joined hands in a Peace Circle and shared stories from their mentorship experiences.  The two trees – a Robinson crabapple and a Silver maple – were in-kind donations, made possible by Lowes Home Improvement®.

The CONNECT program promotes student empowerment by providing the opportunity to participate in and lead a community-based activity in their neighborhood.  Through such activities, the students realize the importance of civic engagement.

A highlight of the CONNECT program is the students’ interaction via Skype – made possible through ISU’s donation of web cameras and microphone headsets to Westcott.  Every week, ISU mentors and Westcott mentees held ‘Skype dates’ and talked about their day, school work, persistence toward post-secondary education, and other topics of interest. 

Although the school year is nearing a close, both ISU and Westcott students eagerly await the upcoming year when the CONNECT program starts again.  The two trees were an in-kind donation from the local Lowes.

The trees are accompanied by a stone plaque that reads “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” – Anthony Burgess.

E. Sanders



For more information on CONNECT or other partnering programs with ISU and GADC, please contact ISU Coordinator, Corrinn Cobb at (773) 483-3696 or via e-mail at

Keywords: American Democracy Project, ceremony, Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline, community, CONNECT, dedication, enhancement, gadc, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, Illinois State University, ISU, Lowes, Lowes Home Improvement, mentee, mentor, mentorship, Oliver S. Westcott Elementary, program, tree

Posted in Community Highlights