A Decatur native, she earned her undergraduate degree from Illinois in speech and hearing science, began her professional career in Wisconsin and in 2003 returned to Illinois to be closer to her parents and attend graduate school at the UI. While her daughters were in elementary school, Delaney worked full time at Illinois Public Media and earned a master’s from the UI College of Education in curriculum and instruction.
These days, her daughters help her stuff envelopes for CUSF mailings or assist with events. More often, Delaney said, they guide her as she experiments with new technology like Edmodo or Google Hangout. Teaching and learning are still at the core of her life.
See why we think Molly Delaney is a Chambana Mom to Know
Q: How does the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation impact our community?
We’ve been awarding grants to support classroom innovation for almost 30 years, and in September we surpassed the $1 million mark. Classroom grants aren’t the only thing we do, but they have had the biggest impact. In August we awarded our first It’s My I.D.E.A. collaborative grant to art teachers from Centennial, Central and Urbana High to create a shared cultural experience for 100 high school art students. It will be an exciting year as we watch the impact this grant has on the students and teachers. Collaborative grants were developed to encourage large cross district projects and enable teachers and students to extend successful programs, coordinate resources and develop best practices.
Q: What are some of the most significant things you’ve learned about our schools that you didn’t know before you took on this role?
Since becoming executive director of CU Schools Foundation, I’ve become aware of how many homeless students we have in our community. These students are hidden among us, sleeping on the floors and couches of extended family and friends. Last year, more than 380 documented homeless students attended Champaign and Urbana schools. The reasons for homelessness vary, and our SOS Fund provides emergency assistance to match each student’s short term needs. We recently joined Champaign Unit 4’s Homeless Task Force to explore long term solutions for our homeless students.
Q: In addition to monetary contributions, how can we can support CUSF?
The most obvious answer is grab two friends and register a team for the CUSF Adult Spelling Bee. You’ll enjoy tasty food and exciting competition while supporting a great cause! If spelling bees aren’t your thing, you can donate, shop or volunteer at the IDEA Store; submit a name for our 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards; or spread the word about our work in the community. Sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Q: We’ve seen you all over town promoting the Spelling Bee! We’re going. How do we prepare?
You can find plenty of resources online to help you study, like Word Buff or Spell It. But don’t go crazy. The CUSF Adult Team Spelling Bee is a friendly competition, and we start with third grade word lists. If you are worried about the spelling component, try focusing on your costume. We award prizes for Best Costume, Most Team Spirit, and Best Team Name.
Q: What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
My first response was playing Scrabble, but I consulted with my daughters and they disagreed. Two of us are cut-throat in our pursuit of Scrabble excellence, and the other two don’t enjoy it. But everyone agreed on cooking, baking and eating. Family mealtime has always been a joint effort, and we all LOVE experimenting in the kitchen.
Q: Your kids are almost “grown.” What’s your favorite advice to give to parents just starting out?
Although my kids are “almost grown” my parenting journey feels far from over. I hesitate to give other people parenting advice because I am still just muddling through, making it up as I go along. But I suppose I should say something, so here it goes: Don’t sweat your mistakes. Kids are hard to ruin. If you screw up, own up to it. Make amends. Say you’re sorry. Then move on. Learn and grow with your kids. EVERYTHING is a teachable moment!
Q: What would you love to see in C-U that we don’t already have?
More family Scrabble tournaments! Just kidding.
Q: Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
My daughters and I bake about 200 pies a year. Some are consumed by our family and friends, but most are used to raise money for charitable causes, including CU Schools Foundation. We have a plaque in our house that says, “Pie fixes everything.” I’m not sure it’s true, but our family is trying to make the world a better place, one pie at a time.