In November, BAPA reorganized its Education Committee in an open meeting where neighborhood residents came together to share their ideas and hopes for local schools. Beverly/Morgan Park resident Heather Wills and BAPA President John Barron are co-chairs of the committee.
Quality local schools are a vital part of a healthy community. In Beverly/Morgan Park, where a high percentage of residents have college and advanced degrees, expectations for education are particularly high.
The reinvigorated BAPA Education Committee looks to develop meaningful partnerships with all local schools, public and private, so that all get to know each other better, and in time build the capacity to collaborate and attain mutually important goals.
Supporting local schools is part of BAPA’s mission, and the Education Committee has set goals that are focused on providing services that will enhance the schools and improve academic achievement.
The goals are:
Assist schools in maximizing academic achievement and social competence of all students in a safe, nurturing and developmentally appropriate environment.
Involve the community in a meaningful partnership with all schools; reach out to schools and generate ideas on how BAPA can best support them.
Create opportunities for schools to connect and collaborate: Schools helping schools.
Support open and fluid communication between parents, schools, local elected officials and community stakeholders.
Promote and highlight positive things that are happening in local schools.
The committee’s next step is to develop subcommittees and create action plans.
About Heather Wills
Heather Wills is in her 4th year working as principal at Lawn Manor Elementary School in Oak Lawn. This marks in her 16th year in education, having invested 12 years of her early career in social work.
Public schools face many challenges now, and Wills sees how funding cuts limit services for students who need them while at the same time increasing class sizes. Cuts also limit the digital learning opportunities a school can afford.
Wills also notes that children often come to school with a deeper level of need than in the past. This can affect how well prepared they are socially and emotionally to adjust to school and begin their learning.
As you would expect of someone who began her career in social work, Wills would like schools to take more time to consider the needs of the whole child instead of over-focusing on high-stakes testing. There needs to be a better balance for children’s optimum development, as schools are expecting more of children at younger ages, she said.
In her role as BAPA Education Committee co-chair, Wills looks forward to introducing herself to neighborhood principals and inviting parents to talks on hot topics like, How much homework is too much homework for your child? and How can you tell when the school is the right fit for your child?
The Education Committee is interested in members representing Clissold, Barnard and Esmond Schools. To learn more about the BAPA Education Committee, email firstname.lastname@example.org.