HPKCC Schools Committee - Recent Reports and Meeting Minutes

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Schools Committee (Chair Nancy Baum) and its website hydepark.org.
Writer: Gary Ossewaarde
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Report by the Chairman: HPKCC School Committee holds Fourth Annual Networking Dinner (Sept. 29 2009).

By Nancy Baum

Ont the 20th of September, 2009, the HPKCC Schools Committee hosted its fourth Annual Networking Dinner for neighborhood schools principals, Local School Council members, and heads of PTAs, PACs and other leadership groups in the schools. The dinner was funded through the HPKCC budget allotment for the Schools Committee. Invited were leaders from Kenwood Academy, Canter Middle, Shoesmith, Kozminski, Reavis, Murray, Ray, Bret Harte, Price, King College Prep, Hyde Park Career Academy, Carnegie, North Kenwood Oakland Charter, Ariel, Dyett, Robinson and U. of Chicago-Woodlawn.

This event was held again in the Canter Middle School gymnasium/auditorium graciously offered by the principal, Dr. Colleen Conlan and was emceed by Schools Committee member Mr. ismail Turay who was also recently elected to the Board of the HPKCC. Mr. Turay charmingly explained what the Schools Committee does and introduced its members.

Neighborhood schools heard from Rev. Larry Turpin (United Church of Hyde Park), also a Schools Committee member about a Schools Committee initiative involving the 40 Developmental Assets, a copy of which was given to each attendee in a folder containing other information about the Schools Committee and the HPKCC. His remarks elicited much interest from the group attending and the assets list was greatly appreciated.

The principal speaker at the dinner was Dr. David Roche, Director, Chicago Public Schools ARTS Education who spoke on the topic: "State of the Arts in the Chicago Public Schools." Dr Roche spoke about the many programs that are offered in the schools through partnerships. The US Department of Education and many national, corporate and local philanthropies support Chicago Public Schools arts education. There are programs during the school day and after school. High school students are required to have 1 year each of visual arts and of music. The Office of Arts Education's Action Plan for 2009-2010 aligns the delivery of arts education according to a developmentally appropriate sequential curriculum that emanates from his office. Dr. Roche can be reached by telephone at 1-773-553-1943 and by email at dmroche@cps.k12.il.us.

Special thanks goes to the following people who worked very hard to make this event happen: Dr. Colleen Conlan, who provided the beautiful space; Camille Hamilton-Doyle, who arranged for the food and decorations and the serving of the meal; The Rev. Larry Turpin, who unstintingly and eloquently promotes the 40 assets; Julie Woestehoff who created a lot of the folder contents and handed out the folders at the door; helpers at the table: Anthony Travis, Joan Arnason, Jeanette Faust, Gary Ossewaarde, Ted Fetters, Annika Frazier-Muhammad, and John Keller.

The Schools Committee's mission is to provide community support for the schools and a place where Local School Council members can meet to share information. The committee supports our Local School Councils, encourages community involvement in our schools, provides forums and events on education issues that matter to our community, and provides a variety of resources for schools and families on our website www.hydepark.org/schools. We encourage principals to link our web site to their website so that parents can quickly access us. We have, for example, a list of after school and other activities that children can participate in along with phone numbers and descriptions of offerings.

We hope community members will want to choose a school and attend some of their meetings to show community support. The Local School Councils have many good-hearted people whose hard work deserves to be recognized by all of us. Or join the Schools Committee.

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Reports from the October and November 2009 Schools Committee meetings.

November 30 2009.

Nitin Hemmady of LearningforSchools.com briefed on his program for Technology Certification for students and parents in elementary and middle schools.
Planning was started on the February 23 Forum and Awards Program, centered inter alia on encouragement of involvement in the lsc elections.
An award to teachers for classroom needs development of a proposal. This was tabled.
A source of ideas could be a new book called How to Walk to School, by Chicagoans Jacqueline Edeberg and Ruth Kurland. (Edelberg was recommended as--and will be--the speaker at the February 23 Awards program.
We will be visiting the Woodlawn Charter High School and maybe others later for ideas.
Initial strategy and whom to meet with were set forth for the Assets building survey and collaborative project.

From the minutes of the October 22, 2009 HPKCC Schools Committee

Rudy Nimocks spoke about the the Harlem Children Zone mentorship Program that takes children from infancy to college. This program is being carried out in 10 communities nationwide as needing the benefit of such a program.. Its 100-page report is on the internet. The Woodlawn area has a committee that is trying to apply this concept to Woodlawn along with Bishop Brazier.

[A federally selected] neighborhood gets 5 million dollars that must be matched by other sources of money. If it works well in the Woodlawn area as a pilot, From Cradle to College will spread over the country, says Nimocks. It will attempt to replicate what is being done in Harlem. The program includes a holistic approach, meaning services are available in one place: mentoring, tutoring, etc. on premises. Children who are not in the promise zone are referred out to other agencies, but without any follow-up discernable. [In Harlem, they do not have "magnet", "neighborhood" etc. schools--the resources and students are evenly distributed and the schools are true community and service providing centers, vs Chicago.]

[What do we have in Chicago or locally, and what might we want?]

Everyone agreed that adult role models are important. The Search Institute identifies 40 assets in 2 categories: External Assets and Internal Assets. They include engaging adults, activating sectors, invigorating programs, influencing civic decisions and mobilizing young people.

[N]oted Kenwood’s After-School program is funded with $16 million dollars. After School Matters is chaired by Maggie Daley. Kids are paid $500 to be in the program. One example of things they do is to have a group make a demo tape with music, dancing, singing, choir, etc. [Outside of ASM there is little offered.]

[M]entioned[:] working with schools to get more services, a tutor-mentor connection. Daniel Basill of the 4th Presbyterian Church runs such a program There is a web site for mapping tutoring opportunities in the city in order to connect services to needs.

The example of Spry Community Academy in Little Village was mentioned: The school is now pre-K through H.S.

PACs, Parent Advisory Councils, are funded through the CPS for volunteer work, but not all schools have PACs.

Kenwood also has free classes funded by $8000.00.

HPAC: Hyde Park Art Center. All schools participate in this organization. Little Black Pear also has program.
Reavis has a clinic with a full-time nurse and has instituted a parent program.
Kozminski is a 1-8 school.
Ray has 2 pre-schools, one half-day and one whole-day. Price and Shoesmith have instituted pre-schools. [It was noted that after preschool chances for many children go down and they never catch up.]

Someone asked what happens to the kids who move away and out of the school?

Murray is [an example of] a stable [and high performing] school [-it is a magnet school].

The group the Schools Committee wants to focus on is the Middle School. Ages 12-18 are usually considered too old for after-school programs [and c 9th grade is where many pupils don't adjust and really start to fall behind]. For children that age not much is available without paying and the children must be chauffeured to that place. Suggested activities include: Girl Scouts. Sports, drama. Rudy mentioned a University Art Complex in the Woodlawn area. Ratner Gym has programs but the membership is expensive.

There is an organization with program to connect with retired music teachers for free. Children’s hip-hop music and colorful language today may not match their interests.

The Neighborhood Club teaches banking skills.
The Little Black Pearl and the YMCA have programs.
Kenwood used to have free classes but not anymore.

City: Resources Directory for children: Steve Brown, sociologist, Hospitals give mothers web-sites to check.

Resources from the outside can be plugged in but must deal with school bureaucracies.

Woodlawn Social Services Network lists 12-13 organizations that all go in different directions, including inter-faith groups. There is no umbrella group.
[A] Health Fair was held recently at 63rd and Ingleside

The group considered where they might try to place their efforts. Our original thought was to work with Canter School and Colleen Conlan, the principal. The Committee must put together a program proposal: Rudy Nimocks suggested older read to younger. Carnegie School has such a program [and Ray?] .Someone mentioned that Bret Harte has a hi-rise building being built next to it and there might be a possibility there.

The Schools Committee will continue to try to meet with people from the University and elsewhere and we consider what resources the community can bring to bear, what kind of collaborative the Committee wants to commit to.

Nancy passed around copies of the Survey for Students.

Two studies from Chapin Hall that might be of help: Go to the Chapin Hall Center for Children website and find ChapinHall_Study_of_After_School_Matters.pdf, Chapin_Hall_How_Active_are_Teens.pdf

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Schools and Education. From a 2008 year-end wrap up by Gary Ossewaarde, whose views it expresses.
Arne Duncan, CPS CEO was chosen for Education Secretary by President-Elect Barack Obama. Duncan is a life-long Hyde Parker and long active in both public and private education. The response was enthusiastic although with reservations about the policies of CPS toward support or closings of schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods and hostility toward Local School Councils and other forms of local input or control.

Concern was expressed about local schools lagging in repairs and upkeep. The 53rd TIF joined with CPS in funding major repairs to Canter Middle School, although the needed expansion is still not in sight. Kenwood Academy received a very extensive Disabilities upgrade. Award-winning Ray School remained uncertain as to when repairs will be made. CPS is sending teams around to all the schools.

UC Laboratory Schools launched major planning and fundraising for the schools and their expansion, nursery to high.
Kenwood Academy: lunch privileges now depend on performance, about 350 of 1700 can go off campus. There is still controversy as to whether Kenwood is turning around and the strong parts maintaining position or improving.

Akiba-Schechter dedicated a new playground sponsored by Bill Coleman and Carol Groover and Jewish Funders.
Principal changes: Gregory Mason succeeded Michael Keno as Principal at Murray Language Academy.
Ongoing concerns for schools and their supporters are continued devolution of responsibilities upon them by CPS to raise funds for everything from supplies, to after school programs, to training, to repairs.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee put on line a comprehensive database directory of after school and related activity providers. The Committee also held banquets with speakers for outgoing and incoming local school councils and their principals. Among information furnished was that on grant writing and finding funds and donations and how to improve further as LSCs.

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HPKCC Schools Committee Prospectus for an assets ("promises") building program and coalition for the Hyde Park-Kenwood area

Eye on Neighborhood Schools: Developmental Assets Program Outlined by Schools Committee

From the July 2009 Conference Reporter. By Nancy Baum

There are, according to the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, 40 different kinds of experiences, relationships, opportunities and personal qualities that children need to have in order to succeed in life. These experiences include exposure to the arts and performance of volunteer work, etc. The Schools Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is proposing that a coalition of parents, teachers, community organizations and churches be built in order to help shepherd the students in our neighborhood along. Whatever experiences are not being provided will ultimately be provided. To this end, a staff person will be hired to maintain communications and to coordinate the program that would be established.

After-school programs tend to peter out after age 12. Few want to deal with children that are older. Indeed, Canter Middle School was an outgrowth of the sensed community need for a special school for this transitional age group. Schools and community might do better if they knew what types of experiences children need or are lacking. Our schools are places where parents need to feel more comfortable about sending their children. A child from Kozminski might know about the Hyde Park Art Center, but since it is on the other side of Hyde Park, might not choose to go there. The access to programs for children is uneven.

Some suggested activities are Junior Achievement, Junior Great Books, Café Society, ecology movements, city gardening, etc. Kids would be invited to participate in different organizations. How do we go about selling the idea to parents?

In search of a model for a program that might be doable in Hyde Park, four members of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee, Gary Ossewaarde, the Rev. Larry Turpin, Ismail Turay and Nancy Baum, met with Ida Lynn Wenhold, the executive director of “Kids Matter” in Naperville on March 3, 2009. Ida Lynn explained that the program in Naperville came at the impetus of Edwards Hospital, the local hospital in Naperville. Edwards noticed that many of their adolescent patients were showing signs of abuse and neglect and wanted to do something about it. A Developmental Assets Profile Survey, an abbreviated 15-minute survey, revealed that, though there was a lot of parental support, family communication was poor and service to the community was low. The Profile Survey can be viewed online at www.search-institute.org. A three-pronged approach was conceived in order to reach the community: 1) Programming, 2) Asset Education and 3) Coalition Building.

Programs were developed in giving service to the community, through a Volunteer Fair and obtaining jobs through a Job Fair. Of course, eventually, fund raising became a major undertaking because of all the publicity and materials that were needed to get the word out to the community. Funds came from Chicago United Way, Chicago Trust, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, and from businesses. Coalition-building took place among schools, police, counseling centers, etc. A tracking system was put into place.

How were parents taught about Assets Education? Parents got information to read. A publication called “E Blast” was given to schools to put into their newsletters. Assets Tips and Assets Bingo were created. Printed material was gotten into peoples’ hands by kiosks set up at store cash registers, placing into magazines and newspapers, etc. Businesses were approached to come up with ideas to make children feel more welcome. School resource officers and social workers helped with materials distribution. Other ideas are to get college students to come to schools campuses to talk about college or even become big brothers and big sisters. A special program for girls was established called WINGS. An Equal Opportunity Award was established by the mayor’s office to honor some ordinary kid, perhaps someone who volunteered to clean the streets. Table toppers with family trivia topics were placed on tables in restaurants to get the conversation going.

Needless to say this was an exciting prospect, but decidedly a very large project. We of the Schools Committee have ideas about how to go about implementing a project like this, if needed. To establish need we would like to distribute the 15-minute survey to all students ages 12-19 in Hyde Park. We would need the participation of the principals of all the schools in the neighborhood. Then, once the data were analyzed and needs identified the idea would have to be sold to the community and initial funds would have to be found. We have huge resources available in this community: that could lend full weight to the Community Conference to move forward on this. The Conference has already pulled together a data base of programs available to our youth. It can be found on www.hydepark.org/schools. Rep. Currie and Alderman Preckwinkle’s offices put out an annual booklet listing schools and programs for children.

In addition to finding out what children’s emotional needs are vis a vis the community, the schools have material needs that must be met. But this is a question for another time.

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