Studio assistant program changes lives

Unpaid work actually works to alleviate mental health and personal struggles at Amara Yoga and Arts. Three studio assistants have become mentally healthier after working for free at Amara.

Amara is a yoga studio and art gallery that has over 20 studio assistants who work 3 hours out of the week cleaning around the studio, directing clients to the correct classes, signing up new clients, and everything else in-between. In exchange for the free work, studio-assistants are allowed to take as many yoga classes as they want. The studio owner, Kathryn Fitzgerald finds these assistants through the community and from friends of current studio assistants.

One studio assistant, Sharon Jackson lost her job and fell into a deep depression and anxiety. Because of this, she decided to go back to school at Eastern Illinois University in order to get a higher degree (at the time she only had her associates) in hopes of finding a new job. During a conversation with one of her teachers, Mary Atteberry, she had mentioned how yoga had helped her mentally. Sharon said that she could not afford yoga and that’s when Atteberry mentioned the program. She was then introduced to the owner and was brought on as a studio assistant.

Jackson said she took several classes a week, “It really helped with my self-esteem, sense of health and getting better in my body.”

Jackson also has many artistic interests that she was never able to really pursue. Amara holds different workshops and classes that need advertising, and Sharon offered to draw on the chalkboard in Amara.

The accepting environment that the studio provides is what keeps her on as a studio assistant. Jackson gets to use her artistic abilities without feeling judged and is allowed to do what makes her happy.

Another studio assistant, Colleen Read, was going through post-traumatic stress disorder, and the therapist she was seeing told her that yoga and meditation could be very beneficial to her. She was familiar with seeing Amara and signed up for a membership. Reed is a full-time student and a CNA, and that it was becoming hard to pay for a membership. Read then contacted the owner herself, and that’s when she found out about the program.

Read continues to attend classes weekly. She said, “I never really had self-love or confidence. I always felt stiff and uptight. I feel like I have really found me and that my anxiety has been alleviated.”

Studio Assistant Juan Gonzalez Machain was recovering from substance abuse and an experience he is grateful that happened to him in order to be the person he is now. One day while running into a friend, Amara came about in discussion and he was interested in being a part of the program. The program has continued to make a positive impact on his life and guide him in the right direction.

Yoga itself is a great way to cope with stress and various mental health issues, and Amara has found a way to give people this mental freedom.

Sources talked to:

Sharon Jackso-studio assistant

Colleen Read-studio assistant

Juan Gonzalez Machain-studio assistant

Kathryn Fitzgerald-Studio Owner

Terri Decker-studio assistant

Billi Jo Hart-In charge of studio assistant program

There has been an increase in the number of seniors attending the University of Illinois from the 2008-2009 to the 2017-2018 school year. From data, engineering students seem to have the most seniors compared to another college.

Jack Hynes, a 22-year-old Civil Engineering major. Graduating with a Hoeft technology and management minor on time.

Hynes decided to pursue a minor late into his sophomore year, so there was an increase in required credits that he had to fit into his Junior and Senior year semesters which he did by taking an overload for the following semesters.

Engineers have a higher prevalence of co-ops than other majors due to the technical nature of industry jobs. Co-ops allow students to work for a summer and/or semester so they can immerse themselves in a job and/or company to develop more technical skills. These co-ops can offset tuition and expense costs, as working an additional semester results in a higher grossed income for an internship.

But co-ops can be less competitive to acquire because it will cause students to graduate later, making them less desirable for students to obtain. Hynes says that many companies value the experience candidates have obtained before their employment, this is why they can also be pro to students who may not mind taking another semester or year to graduate.

Engineers who are interested in studying abroad that lack a high number of college credits from high school will have to add an additional semester because there may not be the ability to have abroad courses approved for credit due to the lack of a compatible program. Engineers already have higher credit requirements, so a semester abroad would put students behind academically.


If it is not taking longer to graduate, where are these seniors coming from?

Are there certain colleges that require more of their students?

Is it students that decide to get dual-degrees or those that are double majors? Do minors have an effect?

University money benefits? Engineering pay a higher tuition than most students.


Affidavit reveals more information on teacher sexual assault

According to an affidavit released today, the family of a student was aware of the relationship she was having a with a high school teacher.

Christopher Young, 45, was a social studies teacher at Peabody-burns High School when he was found having a relationship with a student romantically beginning in December of 2017.

Both Young and the student tried to hide their relationship, but friends and family eventually found out. Those who knew about the two attempted to convince them to end it, knowing that it was not right, but the relationship continued on. Young has a family of his own, a wife and two children.

The two spent many nights in Youngs’ trailer, and there were times where he would sneak into her house late at night.

This relationship came to light when a close friend of the student came forward to Chief of Police Bruce Burke.

The High School Administration reported that they observed unusual behaviour from Young who would have his classroom door locked before school hours, and the student was inside of the class with him. Surveillance footage also showed him in the hallway while he had classes going on, and disappearing into an alcove of a hallway during school hours with the student.

Both the Peabody Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s office executed a search warrant for Young’s cellphone. A warrant for the students’ cellphone followed. Both phones contained nude photos and other explicit content.

The students’ phone contained messages about details of her relationship with Young and another female student.

There was also a second female student Young had a relationship with. This student decided to come forward and agreed to be seen by a sexual assault nurse examiner and response team.

Young was charged with eight felonies for unlawful sexual relations and exploitation of minors.

Additional Questions

Who and how many other students were involved with Young and the Student?

More info about why the family didn’t take further measures to stop this relationship.

Was it the student that was having a relationship with the other the one that came forward about the relationship?

What did Youngs family have to do or say about this relationship?

Mother dies after granite is dropped from an overpass

For the second time in the past year, a driver has been killed by an object dropped from an overpass. The first incident occurred when an Urbana lawyer was killed from a can of gasoline that fell from an overpass on Interstate 57.

Emily Sawyer, a 43-year-old mother of three has died after being struck by a piece of granite while driving. Sawyer was taking her mother to church services Saturday morning when the 10-pound piece granite fell from an overpass and broke through her windshield, splitting her head open. The car continued to crash into a protective railing on I-74, where several motorists stopped to help.

Sawyer was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital and pronounced DOA. Her mother suffered a broken arm and multiple bruises.

Sawyers sisters, Felicity Shrove and Donna Taylor issued a statement at the hospital saying that they “hope that steps can be taken to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

Just before the accident, police received a cell-phone report that a group of young males were spotted throwing debris off of the Prospect Avenue overpass onto I-74.

Anyone with further information about the accident can call Champaign County Crimestoppers at (217) 373-TIPS.


Police are seeking information after a woman died from a piece of granite falling from an overpass. Just before the accident, a group of young males were reported throwing debris off of that same overpass onto I-74. Anyone with further information about the accident can call Champaign County Crimestoppers at (217) 373-TIPS.


Three children are now left without a mother after a piece of granite that was dropped from an overpass crashed through her windshield, killing her instantly. Emily Sawyer, 43, was on her way to church with her mother when a 10-pound piece of granite fell right through her windshield, splitting her head open.

Puerto Rican PhD student wants peace

The GEO strike began on Monday and a PhD student says that the strike is more than just contracts for her.

Noelia Irizarry, 31, says that teaching assistants and graduate assistants are treated worse than minimum wage workers. Irizarry says this because graduate and teaching assistants are doing the work that professors do not want to do, without getting fair treatment. Irizarry is familiar with this feeling because she is a minority and has dealt with discrimination her entire life.

This strike is important to Irizarry because she wants to ensure that she as well as other TAs and GAs are able to stand up for they believe is right and that they are all being treated fairly for their time spent at the University. She says that this is not about getting more than what the University is offering for these teaching and graduate assistants; just getting a guarantee that what is offered now will continue for future graduate students.

Irizarry says, “The University has not been completely respectful to our needs, they have shown themselves to be more interested to be keeping their pockets full.”

This has become personal for Irizarry because she is a Puerto Rico native and she is upset with how the government has dealt with the trauma from the hurricane that hit last year. Parts of Puerto Rico still do not have power, and Irizarry says that with the trouble her country is going through and how her family at home is struggling, she just wants peace and happiness in her life. The strike is additional stress and she wishes it did not have to happen.

Those a part of this strike coined “Undergraduates of today are the graduates of tomorrow.” With the purpose of saying that undergrads are also welcome to be a part of this strike because it involves them as well.

Irizarry is currently on fellowship but has experience assistant teaching art history survey courses, Renaissance to modern art and history of design. She is determined to become a professor of modern Latin American and Caribbean art.




Student creates All-Star abilities program

When freshman Grace Goodman came to the University of Illinois, she had to leave behind a program she created for disabled children near her hometown.

Goodman is a Special Education major who wants to make an impact and show children that no matter what their disability may be, they can do whatever they set their mind to.

She believes that from a young age, “when you are told what to and not to do, it can shape the type of person you become and the abilities you think you may or may not have.” This is a reason she hopes to teach young children.

Goodman has a younger brother who has severe ADHD, and when he began kindergarten, her family struggled with a school that was not patient with him.

Her brother, Charlie, had a special education teacher who continuously labelled him as “uncontrollable” and a “problem child.” This lead to Charlie always being sent to the principle for disruptive behaviors and constantly getting in trouble with his teacher.

Goodman’s mom worked at the school that her son attended at the time, and one day was told that her son was no longer allowed to come back and attend that school. This put a lot of stress on the family, and Goodman said it was heartbreaking to watch.

“All you want to do is help your baby brother, and when a teacher is telling you they can’t be helped, and that child at 5 years old, he feels worthless to the people that are supposed to support them.”

After her brother switched schools, she realized his previous teacher was not well equipped for her job because his new teacher was patient and caring, both good qualities of a special education teacher.

The idea for this program, All-Star Abilities, came about when Goodman partook in a fellowship that concluded in Israel, where they had to create something that would “fill a gap in the community” and make a social impact. She said that she realized there was not a program like this and that “everyone should have the ability to partake in sports, learn how to independently exercise, and take care of their body.”

Goodman said she knew that she was going to have to give up her program in order to see it through.

“I had to give my program to the Jewish Community Center in order to get the $100,000 grant from the Jewish United Fund,” Goodman said that leaving to attend U of I was hard because she worked on creating this program for so long, only to give it away.

The Jewish community center owns All-Star Abilities and all of the rights to it, so Goodman could not bring the program to Champaign like she had once hoped.

“I worked on this program for two full years. It was really hard for me to apply for the grant in the first place. I gave up being able to say I was responsible for creating this program.”

Although Goodman did give up this program, she was on the board to go through the details of the program.

She went to every session when the program started and was paired with a buddy who needed a lot of support. He was on the autistic spectrum, as described by Goodman, and completely non-verbal, he had to communicate with the iPad. He needed a volunteer to be one step ahead, to be patient, and Goodman knew she would pair well with him.

Goodman said that this boy changed her entire experience with the program. “You always get joy out of good deeds you do, but when you work one on one with someone, you develop an entirely different connection.”

Her most memorable experience was the last session when his dad picked him up and said, “I know Ben can’t tell you this, but in the beginning, he didn’t want to come. By the end, he was looking forward to it.”

For Goodman’s future as a Special Education teacher, she wants to take the effort and time to make sure her students are learning and that she is going to make sure she does whatever possible for her students to succeed.

Controversy between Illini faculty at academic senate meeting

Illinois faculty members voiced angry opinions on how the chancellor has handled the suspension of a professor, who was accused of alleged sexual harassment.

Jay Rosenstein is a professor of media and cinema studies. Rosenstein is open about being against Chief Illini Wek and was caught videotaping Ivan Dozier in a bathroom during a basketball game. Rosenstein said he was recording to

Professor of Art History, Italian and French, David O’Brien, argued that the Rosenstein case was not handled lawfully and appropriate steps were not taken. O’Brien stated that Chancellor Jones should have met with the faculty advisory committee before putting Rosenstein on administrative leave.

Chancellor Jones ended the discussion by saying, “This is the decision that was made in the best interest of the students who were enrolled in the class, the professor, and this University.”

The topic of the representation of Chief Illini Wek was also discussed. The Illinois board of trustees banned the use of the Chief in 2007 due to cultural appropriation controversy. Although, many students and even shops on campus still produce clothing and images representing the chief. Chancellor Jones said that the University, due to freedom of speech, does not have any authorization to stop the portrayal of the Chief on clothing or in classrooms.

Bruce Rosenstock in the Department of Religion stated that the subject of the chief still being portrayed on campus is embarrassing, and brought up how the New York Times even released an article about the Chief still being used.


A Game of Chase Sends Teens to Hospital

Tuesday, January 30th, four teens were sent to local hospitals after a game of “car tag” went wrong ending in a two-car collision on Date and Grant street.

According to police reports, the two cars were driving close behind one another. Kolton Harms (17) was driving a Dodge Dakota, and Kassidy Trapani (18) was behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle.

The two attempted to turn left simultaneously onto Grant Street.

“One went left and one went wide,” said Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning.

The Volkswagen ended up wrapped around a tree with damage to the entire car. The Dodge faced damages mainly in the front area of the car.

Trapani and passenger Ryliegh Petersen(13) were taken to Hillsboro Community Hospital.  Jasmine Copenhaver(15)  and Anna Baugh(16) were transported to St. Luke’s hospital in Marion. All transported by ambulance. Harms was taken to St. Luke by his mother, and Brisbee(15) was taken to Hillsboro hospital by her father.

No one suffered extreme injuries.

Both Trapani and Harms were charged with reckless driving and may face further charges.

Urbana Book Signing

Urbana Free Library will be hosting a book signing and program for Grace’s Mirror: Healing for Perfectionists by Dan E. Ferguson on Wednesday, February 14th, at 7 p.m. in the conference room.

Author Ferguson shares a practical, down-to-earth guide to help the perfectionist overcome, heal, and recover.

Perfectionists, along with those who live with them, will learn and benefit from this book

Everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information call the Urbana Free Library (217) 367-4057.

Tabor College Arts Center Now Debt Free

President of Tabor College, Jules Glanzer, announced that the need for $150,000 in additional funds to complete the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts debt free.

Ron Braun, vice president of advancement, and the team of fundraisers at Tabor have been working for six years to complete the project.

“We asked 1,000 people to give $1,000 to raise the final million dollars needed to be debt free,” Glanzer said. “We were overwhelmed with the response.”

The first guest performance at the Shari Center will be a Winter Classics Concert by Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra and is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the group’s website or are available for pick up at Faith & Life Bookstore or the NMKSO office, both in downtown Newton.