Many principals look to the city of Chicago as a resource by using local organizations to establish programs in their schools. “As a principal and leader within this learning community it is my responsibility to be resourceful… For me, that is getting out there, getting myself connected to whatever program, whatever organization I need, that is willing to partner with me to come in and help me meet the needs of my students, parents and this learning community,” said Principal Cynthia Miller of Fiske Elementary School. As a result of this leadership, there are many amazing programs and partnerships in Chicago Public Schools.
Here are some of the highlights:
Eli’s Cheesecake – Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
Chicago Ag is one of the few agricultural high schools in the country offering students real life application of academic work on a 78 acre field. On a tour of his school, Principal Bill Hook points out the set of student managed beehives. Student beekeepers collect the honey that is sold to Eli’s Cheesecake to be used in their Honey Mediterranean Cheesecake. In exchange, Eli’s Cheesecake provides job shadowing, internships and college scholarships to deserving Chicago Ag students.
Rush NeuroBehavioral Center – Mitchell Elementary
With the help of The Fund’s Summer Design Program, Principal Nicole Milberg and her team established a middle school advisory program. Advisory is now the space for teacher advisors to discuss health, development and executive functioning with fifth through seventh grade students. To support advisors, staff from the Rush NeuroBehavioral Center explain to students what happens neurologically as their bodies develop.
The Aspen Challenge Chicago – Amundsen High School
The Aspen Institute created a competition for Chicago youth to create solutions for society’s critical problems. Principal Anna Pavichevich organized a team of Amundsen students who ultimately won The Aspen Challenge Chicago. Their Light Pollution Project encourages residents to minimize the harmful effects of light pollution in the hopes of one day seeing a starry Chicago sky.
Artist in Residence – Lasalle II Magnet School
Lasalle II is known for their rigorous language curriculum where students are immersed in Arabic, French, Mandarin or Spanish four times per week starting in kindergarten. To support the language program, the Parent Teacher Organization brought in a calligrapher for Arabic, a dancer for Chinese and a traditional Mexican artists for Spanish. Some of the students’ artwork was shown in the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. According to Principal Lauren Albani, this program allows “kids to learn different things about each culture.”
These are just a few of the many programs and partnerships Chicago public school principals have established in their schools. Their resourcefulness creates new opportunities for Chicago students and gives them access to the city around them.