One School’s Pandemic Response:  Back to School at All Day Montessori 


In September, All Day Montessori students returned to school after longest break in the school’s 25-year history.  Staff planned and discussed pandemic response policies, but it was all theory until it was put into action.   

Everything was sparkling clean, the tables spread apart, and the drive up/drop off signs ready for the parents.  There were new contactless thermometers, contactless sign in with the new app Transparent Classroom, and lots of PPE.  No one knew what to expect. The children were so happy to return to school. The parents were a little nervous, but thankful to bring their children back. The faculty was a little overwhelmed, but excited to do the work they love, caring for and teaching young children. 

All teachers and students age three and up wear masks except when they are eating, drinking or sleeping.  Each classroom is considered a contained unit. In their classroomsstudents work at designated tables and each has a little basket for when they remove their masks to eat or drink. The children adapting to these different expectations has been effortless. They just seem happy to be back with their teachers and friends. 

ADM parents have read and agreed to the Pandemic Policies which include daily screening; a 72-hour fever, symptom and medicine-free policy; and expectations of clear and honest communication about COVID exposure and travel.  We held town hall meetings to discuss our policies and answered questions regarding a variety of scenarios.  The goal is to keep students, family and faculty as protected from exposure to COVID-19 as possible.  Everyone has a shared responsibility to one other. 

Faculty memberdecided whether they felt comfortable coming back to work.  Discussions covered Pandemic policies and changes to school systems to support social distancing.  Parents have a scheduled arrival time. They drive up, show their child’s card, and a teacher meets them at the car wearing PPE to ask the screening questions, take the child’s temperature, and check them in.  

The children enter the building, change their shoes, wash hands for the first of many times, and begin their school day.  All the preparation and planning has paid off. The pure joy on the children’s faces has reinforced that it was all worth it.  When the parents come to pick up their children, their relief from accomplishing some of their work is evident.  The children are tired and happy from a fulfilling day at school.  The faculty has shared their full heart and peaceful contentment to return to the work they love.   

All Day Montessori, founded for working parents, provides a nurturing, educationally rich and developmentally appropriate environment, 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. each school day.  There are a few spots available. Parents interested in learning more can contact Rebecca Bellonci, or 773-239-8330. 


Meet MPHS New Boys’ Basketball Coach, Chris Gardner 

By: Tina Jenkins Bell 

Morgan Park High School’s new boys’ basketball coach Chris Gardner has a plan. A family man who is married to wife Tia and father to one-year old daughter Dylan, Coach Gardner says he has a commitment to rear teams of responsible young men who understand their greatness does not start nor end on a basketball court. He said, “I want people to know our guys have potential academically and as contributors to the community. I want my players to know that too; their value surpasses their skills in basketball.”  

Coach Gardner is also committed to winning games and, having played semi-professionally in Iran and here in the United States, he obviously loves the basketball. But, he’s a balanced blend of an educator, coach, and family man, and so he is serious about transforming boys to men who know their worth on and off the court. 

Are you Christopher, Christian or just Chris?  

Legally I’m Christopher. Mostly, I’m just Chris. The kids call me Coach CG, nickname that kind of stuck from my playing days.  At home, I’m Chris, and I’m Christopher when I’m in trouble. 

Are you a resident of the Beverly/Morgan Park community? 

Actually, my wife and I are in the process of closing on a home in Beverly, so I will be in the area. I grew up in Washington Heights.  

Tell me about your new position. 

Morgan Park High School is such a high-profile program with so many state championships and a national name. I don’t take that lightly. I humbly accept the challenge of maintaining that name and having a standard of my own and raising it to a new level. As for responsibilities, I’ll oversee the boys basketball program, going from seventh to twelfth grade. Obviously, you know we want to win ball games and compete at the highest level and aspire to win state championships. But, more importantly, I want these kids to be champions of the classroom and champions of the community to go along with that. It will be my job to oversee that. More importantly, it will be my job to teach the guys life lessons through the game of basketball in a team and family atmosphere, and to raise these young boys into young men and help them through that process.  

Those attributes and responsibilities have traditionally been the job a coach, right? 

A coach wears a lot of hats. Sometimes, indirectly you can be mentors, big brothers, father figures, mediators, counselors, disciplinarians… sometimes we’re the only male figure in the lives of these players from teenagers until they become grown.  With that, you want to make sureon a daily basisyou’re a positive influence in their lives. Once you have that, things get a little easier from a basketball standpoint because they trust you. The trust factor is a big thing these days. When I was growing up, it was always a “respect your elders” or a run to the wall and ask questions later. But now, kids have to be able to trust you before they run to that wall. I understand that. I take on that challenge for every kid. 

When does the season begin? 

Games will start in November. It will be a condensed season this year, from November to February. A full season is from November to March. 

What are some of your goals for this school year? 

The number one goal this year, when school starts virtually and still having to figure out how to conduct workouts, is to maintain safety during COVID. I’ve already gotten thermometers. Masks are on the way. I even got them spray bottles to keep in their pockets to have hand sanitizer on hand. I’m working on buying a machine to spray down equipment in the gym and creating “walk-through” zones so that athletes can work out in their own safety bubbles. So, when we start our open gyms, practices, try-outs and things of that nature, I want to do everything within my power to make sure these kids operate in a COVID-free environment.  

The second part to that is I want to make sure all of our athletes have a laptop and access to the Internet. I want to know they’re online getting their classes and instruction and submitting their work. I think right now the academics are more important than anything because the truth of the matter is that if this COVID-thing gets worse it’s possible the season could be cancelled. So, at the very least, at the forefront should be their academics and safety before we can remotely talk about a game.  

What precautions do you plan to take during games? 

I’m not sure if there will be spectators, but I have a plan (if there are no spectators) to socially distance athletes, either by having them sit six feet apart in the bleachers on spacing the chairs that way. I will be working with our athletic director and Dr. Skanes to ensure that everything is safe for us and other teams.  


Have any of your goals changed in light of COVID? 

No. The goals have not changed. The priorities might have changed a bit because safety, security, and their academics are going to come first. Let’s say the season is cancelled, I still have to help kids get into college, and to ensure that they are extrarecruitable from the academic side of things. Across the country, we’re asking these kids to learn remotely. Their parents may not be home as they work, so we’ve got to make sure they are retaining and learning in their online sessions. I’ve proposed to have an athletic study table. Once their log in requirement hours are over, they must conduct that (the study table) before we do workouts every day. This would be for all players, from 7th through 12. 

With ten years-experience, what are some of your greatest achievements?  

Seeing Adam Miller named player of the year and Mr. Basketball.” I am very excited for him and what he will accomplish at the University of Illinois. Prior to that, at Kankakee Community College, I was there for four years. Each of those years a Junior College All American was produced. More importantly, more than 90% of those kids received scholarships to attend four-year colleges, where they would not have to pay to attend school. At Morgan Park High School, we want our kids to go to college — through scholarships based on academics, athletics, or their operational knowledge of basketball.  

What was your greatest challenge? My last year at one community college where I had twelve good guys but not all were committed to the classroom. Due to academic issues, we finished the year with only seven guys. Our team played in a national tournament despite that.  

Part of the issue was the minimal support from that particular college, but this time around I’ll have full support from MPHS administration, athletic director, and other staff. That relationship is very important, and I will do my best to do my part every single day.  

But challenges are a fact of life. Every kid is going to have a difficult situation to navigate through those tough times. Helping them grow up especially in this time of COVID and social justice…how to do things, what to say, what not to say. Guiding them through all of this is just part of the territory of being a coach.  






Area Principals Develop Parent-Centered Online Training and Leadership Alliance to Promote Quality, Equitable Education Across the 19th Ward 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

Six principals representing elementary schools across the Beverly/Morgan Park community recently forged an alliance to share resources, schedules, and ideas to assure equitable, quality educations for studentsno matter their school 

“We heard from parents via surveys and emails. Their chief concerns were that they wanted to help their students but didn’t know the platforms or technology. We began to talk with each other about the best ways to support our students, parents, and teachers,” Vanderpoel Humanities Academy Principal Kia Banks said. “Instead of repeating last spring’s situation of rushing to come up with remote learning solutions as schools closed due to the quarantine, we wanted to begin the school year with answers, guidance, and support. 

Banks is one of the participating principals collaborating in the leadership pod; other principals include Kathleen Valente, Barnard; JaMonica Marion, Clissold; Dr. Angela Tucker, Esmond; Dr. Cory Overstreet, Kellogg; and Margaret Burns, Sutherland. 

The entire team credited Clissold Principal Marion for sparking their alliance after discussing her efforts to create training to assist parents in keeping their students on trackan effort she began earlier this summer.  

To pave the way for accountability and student excellence, one of the initiatives to emerge from this proactive “think tank” is a series of well-designed and presented parent-focused technology training and guides. Last August, the first line of workshops covered Google and Aspen training, a centralized platform for hosting and managing student data, such as class schedules, school events, student performance, athletic eligibility, and individual health records. Workshops were offered at multiple times and divided by PreKindergarten through 4th and 5th through 8th grades.  

The workshops were recorded for easy retrieval and reference and can be accessed at (link). 

“With patience and grace, we want to support our parents by showing them proven, best practices they can use to facilitate their children’s progress,” Dr. Tucker said. 

The principal pod’s overall focus is strong, positive and progressive student performance. Accordingly, their collaborations exceed their leadership concerns and needs to also include support, trainings, and guidance for teachers and staff.  

“We’re sharing all kinds of resources with the common goal of student success,” Dr. Overstreet said. “We heard about Sutherland’s use of an equity consultant to guide staff and teaching personnel in diversity and inclusivity. Now, we’re working with the same consultant to work with us at Kellogg. We’re all connected here, working together and bringing our teachers, like our IB instructors, to collaborate across schools.” 

The team also work with other groups that support similar priorities. Collectively, they promoted the Remote Learning Symposium Developed by mothers and educators comprising the Beverly Area Mom’s Facebook group. Presented from July through the beginning of September, the symposium consisted of a series of workshops covering a variety of topics, including getting ready for remote learning, understanding new math, reading, balancing parental instructional obligations with self-care, and motivating youth to learn and other subjects. To access these presentations, materials, and additional resources, visit  

“We are not operating in a vortex. Instead, we’re sharing our ideas while also utilizing strengths and resources in the community,” Burns said. 

Foreseeing challenges and understanding the stakes, these principals are developing support networks, workshops, and resources within and beyond CPS — all to ensure their students have every opportunity to soar — whether learning remotely or in the classroom. They are also committed to giving school parents and guardians every chance to support them. 

Each of the principals agreed there is no competition between the schools. They said, any parent looking for a schoowill receive high quality, equitable education at any one of the six schools.  






Registration Open Now for Area Schools 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 

The Beverly/Morgan Park area has numerous high performing public, Catholic and private schools.  Though the options vary, residency, alone, won’t qualify admittance. Attendance requires registration, particularly for kindergarteners and new or transferring students. This year, due to the complexities of COVID-19, some schools are requiring returning students to register.  

The bottom line is, if you are the parents of school aged children, check the school’s website for fall admission requirements today. Registration for many schools has been open for a few months.  Parents considering a Chicago Public neighborhood school should visit for school locator as well as residency requirements.  

For high school students, there are a few extra steps, depending on whether the school is public, private or Catholic, which could include completing applications, testing and waiting on an acceptance letters prior to registration.  

Once parents have figured out the school and the admission and registration policies, they should compile the documents for proof of age (birth certificate, baptismal record, passport, court documents, or medical records), proof of current address (utility bills, driver’s license or State of Illinois identification, deed, employer identification number, Illinois Department of Public Aid card, etc.), and health care documents (physical exams and immunization charts and dental records). If parents do not have the necessary health records during registration, they must submit these forms prior to Oct. 15 or their child will face expulsion.  

Catholic and private schools may require additional or different documentation. For example, some Catholic schools might require students to be existing and former parishioners. Again, the most proactive action is to check the school website.   

The following is a list of area schools. 

Chicago Public Schools 

Barnard Elementary School  

10354 S. Charles St., 773-535-2625 

Preschool: Ages 3-4 

Pre-Kindergarten – 8th 

Barbara Vick Early Childhood & Family Center 

2554 W. 113th St., 773-535-2671 

Preschool: Ages 3-5 

Clissold Elementary School 

2350 W. 110th Pl., 773-535-2560 

Kindergarten – 8th 

Esmond Elementary School  

1865 W. Montvale Ave., 773-535-2650 

Prekindergarten  8th 

Kellogg Elementary School  

9241 S. Leavitt, 773-535-2590 

Kindergarten – 8th 

Sutherland Elementary School 

10015 S. Leavitt, 773-535-2580 

Kindergarten – 8th 

Vanderpoel Humanities Academy 

9510 S. Prospect, 773-535-2690 

Kindergarten – 8th 

Morgan Park High School 

1744 W. Pryor Avenue, 773-535-2550 

7th – 12th 

All new and continuing students are required to register for the 2020-21 school year. 


Catholic Schools 

Christ the King School 

9240 S. Hoyne Ave., 773-779-3329 

Preschool – 8th 

St. Barnabas School  

10121 S. Longwood Dr., 773-445-7711 

Preschool – 8th 

St. Cajetan School 

2447 W. 112th St., 773-233-8844 

Preschool- 8th 

St. John Fisher School  

102 S. Washtenaw Ave., 773-445-4737 

Preschool – 8th 

St. Walter School 

11741 S. Western Ave., 773-445-8850 

Preschool – 8th 


Private Schools 

All Day Montessori 

1819 W. 99th St., 773-239-8248 

Preschool: Ages 2 – 6 


Beverly Castle Academy for Early Education 

10244 S. Longwood Dr., 773-239-2299 

Preschool: Ages 3 – 6 

Beverly Montessori School 

9916 S. Walden Pkwy., 773-239-7635 

Preschool – Kindergarten: Ages 3-6 


Morgan Park Academy 

2153 W. 111th St., 773-881-6700 


New students must apply prior to registration 

Beverly Area Public School Community Service Awards 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 


Each year, BAPA’s public education committee gives out communityserviceawards to public school students who make a difference. Each public elementary school has the opportunity to nominate one student, who in their own way contributed to their community, including their school, their neighborhood, or elsewhere. Last month, The Villager profiled award winners from Kellogg School, Vanderpoel Humanties Academy and Morgan Park High School Academic Center. This month, we are pleased to profile winners from Clissold,  Barnard, Sutherland and Esmond elementary schools.  

Antonio Fox 

Clissold School 

Antonio Fox is a beam of light and hope. It is no wonder that Clissold Elementary School principal Jamonica Marion recommended him for BAPA’s 2020 community service award. 

The 13-year old Salutatorian logged in 357 volunteer hours over the last three years, which is 312 community service hours more than expected of him as a Chicago Public School student. 

“I like being in a community where I can impact someone’s life for the better. If we want to change the world, we have to do acts of kindness with our hearts,” Antonio said. 

Some of those acts of kindness include becoming a pen pal to Smith Village residents during the quarantine. At least seven of those residents have begun to routinely write back to Antonio, which is why he says he’ll continue to write them until for as long as they need him.  

“There’s a lot going in their lives, so why not bring them joy,” Antonio said. 

 At his church, Antonio works with parishioners who have special needs by keeping them company and helping them with cooking lessons and art activities. Since 5th grade, he has worked as a Special Olympics volunteer, helping to set up equipment, measure progress, and cheer the basketball, track, and baseball athletes to the finish line. At school, he has been a crossing guard since 5th grade and helps out at school open house events, doing tours and answering questions about the school.  

In addition to being a great student, Antonio was also president of the student council.  

For Antonio, volunteering is “a great thing to do to feel better about yourself and see people smile.”  

Angelica Davis-Smith 

Barnard School  

Angelica Davis-Smith, a 14-year old graduate of Barnard Elementary School, believes her principal Kathleen Valente nominated her for a community service award because she is respected, gets good grades, and was student of the month twice during her time at Barnard. She’s also a great observer who thinks before she speaks or acts, and that makes her discerning, an attribute of leaders and contributors. 

“I love helping people because it makes me feel good. I am able to help people who are less fortunate,” she said.  

For the past two years, Angelica has been busy helping others. She was a crossing guard during her 8th grade year, a volunteer in the classroom, and a member of REAL (Real, Educated, Ambitious, Liberated) Girls. 

As a member of REAL Girls, Angelica passed out food to people who were homeless, and visited other schools to clean up their public, lunchroom, and locker room areas. She’s also a great helper at home, sometimes cooking meals. 

The future chef, doctor, or artist, who loves to design fashions with her pen, plans to attend Morgan Park High School in the fall. She knows she has a lot more to give and accomplish, but in her words, “I am on my way.” 

The world is waiting, Angelica! 

Ava McCarthy 

Sutherland School 

Ava McCarthy, 14-years-old, a graduate of Sutherland Elementary School where Margaret Burns is principal, believes she was chosen for BAPA’s community service award by school leaders because of her long-time attendance and her cando and willingworker attitude.  

“I’ve been at Sutherland since kindergarten, and I’ve always been one of those kids to help others. That’s common knowledge,” Ava said.  

Ava is not only a contributor, she finds other ways to give, like creating solutions for common needs and problems. Accordingly, when Sutherland required 8th graders to complete a community service project, Ava could have gotten her signature sheet and located a church, neighbor or program for which to volunteer, and her time would have been well spent. However, she cares about the environment and wanted to promote climate change awareness among her peers. To do that, she sponsored a “save the planet” poster contest for 7th and 8th graders. Contestants had to create poster-campaigns that explored reasons we should care about the environment. Afterwards, a winner was chosen from each grade, and two people received a gift card from Ohana Ice and Treats, 1800 W. 103rd St.  

Ava’s other volunteer work includes watering the school’s garden, setting up for grandparents day, reading to young kids, participating in her school’s version of a student council, welcoming new kids to the school, showing younger students how to complete standardized testing on the computer, and setting up rooms for testing. At St. Cajetan Catholic Church, she made sandwiches to give to the homeless and worked with the food pantry ministry.  

Ava plans to attend the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences to study animal science because she loves animals and the environment and possibly fit in her interest in dance along the way. 

I feel like I’m a part of the community, and I need to help to make things better. I want to leave a good imprint of what I’ve learned and teach others lessons that I was taught,” Ava said, adding “That’s good stewardship. Right?” 

You bet, Ava. Beverly/Morgan Park needs more good stewards!  

RaMia Monden 

Esmond School 

RaMia Monden, a 14-year old artist and Esmond Elementary School graduate, was nominated for the community service award by Esmond’s International Baccalaureate Middle Year’s Program Coordinator Bernika R. Green. RaMia is a maker who saw the opportunity to use her expertise to help other Esmond students during the recent quarantine.  

“Every day is an experience and helping people is a good thing to do. Most people need that lift,” RaMia said.  

During the quarantine, students were required to switch from inclass to remote learning. Everyone was not able to make the transition, so RaMia helped them. As an artist and internet sensation with over 11,500 people following her art, she was one of the students Esmond teaching staff turned to help respond to students questions about navigating educational learning platforms. From this experience she learned, “You should have enough patience with other people and yourself while helping out.” 

RaMia, who plans to attend ChiArts High School this fall, is a commissioned artist already. She also uses her art to fight social issues, like bullying. 

“She’s always encouraging people through her art,” said RaMia’s mom, Rachel King.  

Keep messaging positive vibes, RaMia. These are the times for it! 

Council Oak Montessori School Collaborates with Forest Preserves for Virtual Lesson 


In keeping with Council Oak Montessori School’s commitment to forming meaningful relationships with its wider community, the school has been engaged in a number of projects with the Cook County Forest Preserves. In 2018 COMS elementary programs received classroom grants to build and maintain gardens on campus. Shortly thereafter, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Department of Conservation and Experimental Programming assisted in helping the school get started on transforming their plastic and rubber playground into a nature playspace, incorporating items found in nature over artificial structures. 


In Montessori education, the outdoor classroom is just as important as the indoor ones. While the COVID-19 mandated shutdown prevented COMS students from joining CCFP staff at the Cal-Sag that runs along the southern end of the school’s property as per our original plans, the collaboration still happened. The team of specialists taught students about crayfish and other invasive species to Illinois waterways through a different medium. On May 14th, 4th through 8th grade students of Council Oak Montessori School (COMS) completed a virtual program with COMS staff and Adam Kessel, the program director at Cook County Forest Preserves. 


When they are able to come together in person, COMS incorporates their natural spaces as an integral part of their curriculum. The school’s extensive outdoor space and proximity to the Cal-Sag allows students to engage with nature and become true stewards of local plants, wildlife, and prairie restoration. 


Illinois is home to 23 different species of crayfish, and the team of specialists set out to catch and identify some. Students learned that not all the crayfish they find in the wild are native. Instead, there are a variety of invasive species in Illinois which “bully” other species and disrupt local ecosystems. 


Some invasive species are introduced after being kept as pets and released into the wild, while others are migrating to new areas as our climate continues to warm. The goal of this team of experts was to catch and identify crayfish, monitoring whether invasive species are appearing in new areas, and containing those populations before they take over.  


Although no crayfish showed up in this field experiment (one of those realities of science), students did get to see a dragonfly nymph and two baby fish (called “fries”). Students also learned about anatomy of crayfish and how to identify different species of crayfish. They also learned to identify crayfish “chimneys” or tubes in the mud that they breathe through while they hide below. 


The specialists at the Cook County Forest Preserves hold special qualifications and permits in order to do much of the field work from this collaboration. However, they gave some advice for students interested in citizen science projects. If you find crayfish when you’re out on a hike, take a picture. You can then go onto websites like iNaturalist, and Chicago Wildlife Watch. If you’re interested in other citizen science you can check out eBird, and Project Budburst. 


Council Oak Montessori School is immensely thankful for everyone from the Cook County Forest Preserves for this wonderful opportunity to expand our outdoor curriculum. In the future, COMS hopes to continue using their garden and prairie restoration space for educating students about the world around them. For 30 years Council Oak Montessori School has been committed to educating the whole child in a way that makes learning inspirational. This partnership shows that this commitment continues even during distance learning. 


Council Oak Montessori School’s remote learning is continuing in a strong way through the end of the semester, including the outdoor program. They plan to return to our classrooms this Fall and also plan to have a simultaneous distance learning program. If you are interested in applying, or just want to learn more about Council Oak Montessori School, please email or visit their website at  

MPA Student Advances to History Fair National Finals 

By Jim Reedy

A trio of Morgan Park Academy 8th graders earned recognition at the Illinois State history fair finals, including one student who advanced to the national competition.
Braelyn Hall’s exhibit on “The Power of Black Advertising” was one of nine individual projects in the junior division selected by Illinois judges to compete in the National History Day contest in June 2020.
Michael Amberg and Kelsey Frazier also received recognition from judges for “superior” exhibits. They and Beverly/Morgan Park resident Leona Bergin qualified to represent MPA on Illinois History Day after being chosen as standouts at the Chicago Metro History Fair regional competition.
Morgan Park Academy 8th graders participate each year in this popular and challenging competition, researching and presenting a long-form research project. Over three months of work during the winter, students researched primary sources to create museum-like exhibits, papers, and documentaries, including summary statements and annotated bibliographies.
In the past two years, seven MPA students have advanced to the state finals.
“There is so much success to be celebrated this year,” history teacher Vanessa Cleys said. “The students really became true historians and produced ‘college-level’ research, as the National History Day staff called it.
“In particular, Braelyn created one of only two individual exhibits chosen to represent Illinois at the national competition. I could not be more proud of the depths of knowledge she was able to reach on a topic that is extremely important to the progress of our society.”
Braelyn’s research project focused on groundbreaking African-American executives in Chicago advertising agencies, led by Tom Burrell.
Michael received an award from the Illinois Labor History Society for his exhibit on the role that the Lemont Massacre of 1885 played in the growth of the U.S. labor movement.
Kelsey studied the impact that Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe has had on increasing the number of women of color in comedy.
Leona filmed a documentary about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, famously featured in the film A League of Their Own. 


Kellogg’s Habitat for the Community

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

Recently, the Kate Starr Kellogg Elementary School received a $10,000 grant to build a pollinator habitat in front of the school from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. 

“Environmental education fits into the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme curriculum. Our kids learn to think globally and the health of the planet fits into that,” said lead organizer of Kellogg’s Garden Club Emily Lambert, commenting on the importance of the school’s garden and pollinator habitats. 

Pollinator habitats attract honey beeswild bees and other pollinators, which pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year, according to US Department of Agriculture. On a local level since pollen promotes fertilization, the better off are area gardens and plant life.  

The idea of the of an expanded pollinator habitat on Kellogg grounds came from Garden Club volunteer, Local School Council member, and Kellogg neighbor David Perry. Perry thought the area, soon to be replaced by the habitat, was unloved and underutilized. Neighbor and landscape architect Mike Mazza of MZA Design volunteered to design the habitat, which will transform the area between the front walkway and the playground into a festive greenspace. Mazza also contributed plants. Kristin LoVerde, from Sutherland Elementary School, and Val Kehoe, from the University of Illinois Extension, helped with advice and other information for completing the grant. 

Kellogg is known for its beautiful grounds and garden. The pollinator habitat will expand the school’s existing pollinator, from only two bee hives to also include a butterfly-pollinator garden on the south side of the school. Though the group has until next year to complete the project, Lambert hopes the garden will be up and running in June of this year. 

“The plan Kellogg posted says “Phase 2” on it, which is because we’d like to eventually expand the habitat so that it flanks the front entrance. We’ll need to raise more funds to do that, so (the addition of the butterfly pollinator) is the latest expansion, but hopefully it won’t be the last,” Lambert said.  

Students assisted with the preparation of the grant by measuring the space for the garden. During the summer, student volunteers water the garden and assist with planting 

“Gardening is happening and being shared by Kellogg students virtually even with the school closure,” Principal Cory Overstreet said.  

After the quarantine, Lambert hopes to continue to remotely share Kellogg’s gardens and pollinator habitats to educate school and community families in addition to students not involved in the Garden Club.  

“We could certainly video the planting (from a distance) and share that online. We could also show and describe some of the plants on Kellogg’s website and Facebook pages,” Lambert said. 

Principal Overstreet credits the school’s Garden Club with acquiring the grant. The club, which meets year-round, consists of parent, student, and community volunteers and is one of Kellogg’s most popular after school programs. 

Neighbors have shared with me that they love seeing Kellogg’s gardens coming back to life and expanding. It makes them smile when walking through the neighborhood,” he said.  

School Update 

By Tina Jenkins Bell, BAPA School Liaison 

Teachers, principals, and school families are finding extraordinary ways to keep in touch with their students during school closures and social distancing. Here’s a snippet of what some local schools are doing.  

Morgan Park Academy 

“Pomp and Circumstance” is the graduation march that makes our chests swell with pride as our chins lift and eyes narrow in search of our graduates. Will the opportunity to celebrate graduating students be squashed by the quarantine? Not if Morgan Park Academy has anything to say about it. Graduating seniors are being profiled on Facebook.  

St. John Fisher Elementary School 

St. John Fisher Elementary School recognizes the challenges that come with a quarantined life, but they are encouraging their school families to look at the bright side of things in a new project, entitled Corona Chronicles from Fascinating Falcons 2020. Every Wednesday, the school posts “smell the roses” messages, espousing an appreciation for more family time, new pets, reestablished family dinners, and more time to read from teachers, staff, and students. Be inspired. Visit SJFschoolchicago on Facebook to be inspired.  

Morgan Park High School  

During National Student Leadership Week in April, Morgan Park High School honored four of their National Honor Society Leaders, including Dayna Milner (MP NHS President), Asia Dillon (MP NHS Vice President), Kennedi Strongs (MP NHS Secretary), and Kobi Forbes (MP NHS Sergeant at Arms).  

In mid-April, senior Mustang guard Adam Miller (committed to the University of Illinois Illini) was named Mr. Basketball of Illinois for 2020 by the Chicago Tribune. The last Mustang to earn this honor was Charlie Moore in 2016. Learn more about what’s happening at empehi on Facebook.  

Kellogg Elementary School 

Just in time for Earth Day, Kellogg Elementary School received some good news. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation  awarded the school a $10,000 grant to build a pollinator habitat. Neighbor and landscape architect Mike Mazza of MZA Design has been working on the design, which will transform the area between the front walkway and the playground. Hopefully the habitat will start to take shape this spring and be ready to use when families and neighbors can start getting back together.  

Clissold Elementary School educators organized a special parade to encourage their school families and other neighbors. Cars brandishing balloons, streamers, and signs of encouragement and love for students and the community drove by as neighbors and their children cheered for them. 

Christ the King School has been the source for the uplifting, colorful sidewalk messages of love, faith, encouragement, and safety walkers stroll through North Beverly. The inspirational campaign called #chalkthewalk leaves positive “food for walk” for everyone to admire. Amazed…there’s more. CK sixth grader, whose first name is Robyn, decided to answer the call for face masks…but not just any face mask. Robyn researched the way to make effective face masks. After identifying the proper materials, she worked with her mom who taught her how to sew them. As of last week, according to CK Principal Ann Marie Riordan, Robyn has donated over 100 masks to nurses, law enforcement, first responders at Hines Veteran’s Hospital, and more. Take that Coronavirus! 

St. Cajetan School held a Staff Parade to lift the spirits of and encourage their school families. See what else St. Cajetan is doing on their Facebook page.  

St. Barnabas School hosted a “Let There Be Light” event by asking the community to display a candle in their window to show support for healthcare professionals. See their photos on their Facebook page. 

Sutherland Elementary School students, families, and educators collected disinfectant wipes and paper towels to distribute to area Chicago police and firemen. Students and educators are also staying connected through Google Classroom. See all that they are doing on their Facebook page. 

Do you have school news? 

Let BAPA know what your school is doing by emailing BAPA School Liaison Tina Jenkins Bell, 


How to Survive Remote Learning 

By Kristin Boza 

With the news that all Illinois schools are closed for the remainder of the 20192020 school year, teachers, parents and students alike scrambled to make sense of a new normal. Within a short timeframe, educators and administrators developed programs to keep kids busy and engaged in the middle of a pandemic. 

In mid-April, Cory Overstreet, principal of Kellogg Elementary School, 9241 S. Leavitt St., and his staff prepared 63 Chromebooks to be distributed to students in need of at-home technology, with a phase two roll-out to come.  

“We also put in an order during a special LSC (Local School Council) meeting to order an additional 80 Chromebooks for next year,” Overstreet said. “We want to make sure we have enough technology for every student to work from home if needed.” 

The digital divide, especially in Chicago Public Schools, has never been more evident than now. “In CPS, each individual school controls their own budgets, so it’s up to them if they had acquired technology up until this point,” Overstreet said. “We had 60 Chromebooks when I started at Kellogg; during my four-year tenure, we are now a 1:1 school and have more than 300 devices for students and teachers. That put us in a good position during this transition because our staff and students were familiar with Google Classroom and Class DoJo for a few years now.” 

In addition to Google Classroom, most schools are using educational software to further ensure that students remain challenged and occupied. Dream Box, Moby Max, IXL, Pearson Realize and Khan Academy are just a few ed tech programs that were once being used by teachers to supplement learning, and are now being used for the bulk of lessons and assignments.  

Despite having highly trained teachers and personalized learning, Overstreet says that Kellogg still is undergoing growing pains in this transition. “We were ready for this moment, but it’s still very challenging,” Overstreet said. “Our teachers are awesome because they’re also taking care of their families or have a working spouse and they’re engaging our students in Google Meets. This situation has really humanized everyone; we have staff meetings with our kids in the background and it’s ok.” 

Above all, Overstreet and his team are stressing to keep it simple and make sure parents are focusing on their families’ mental and physical health as well. “It’s stressful for everyone, and it’s important to be flexible,” he said. “Between my wife and I, we have over 30 years of experience in education, and we both have doctorates. We also have a 22-month-old, a 6-year-old, and a 9-year-old, and we are struggling just like everyone else! Trying to teach my third-grader fractions is not easy.” 

Overstreet verbalized what every parent is dealing with right now — the fact that we learned math differently than the kids are today. Overstreet suggests using the “I Do, We Do, You Do” Gradual Release of Responsibility Method (developed by Fisher & Frey): First, show the child how to do the problem, then do a few problems with the child, and finally have child do the rest on their own.  

Never forget that the kids are stressed about all of this, too. Kathleen McShane, Clinical Director and Heather Dejanovich, Child and Adolescent Therapist, both with Begin Within Therapy Services, developed a guide for parents to aid in the transition to schooling from home. “We’ve been telling parents to not stress if you cannot keep up with home/crisis schooling demands,” McShane said. “Communicate with the teachers and do your best. The most important thing is that your kids feel safe and secure right now. Your ability to provide that is paramount. If it means you let some things go or some assignments go in late, but you are able to be more grounded and patient, then so be it. 

McShane and her team of therapists passed along these suggestions for easing stress for children: 

Encourage open communication and be available. 

Ask your kids how they are feeling, and don’t assume they are going to come to you. 

Limit adult conversations around children. 

Set aside time for undivided attention. 

Try and stick to a routine, but give yourself grace if you are using more screen time than normal 

Keep connected with family members and friends via video conferencing. Connection is so important right now. 

Understand that grief looks different in children. 

Keep bodies moving! Especially if the child is holding onto fear with fight-or-flight responses. It’s important to find healthy ways to get the energy out of their bodies. 

Sticking to a schedule is imperative for many families. “We get up and start our day just like we would if we left the house for school,” said Kellie-Jo Angone, a Clissold Elementary School mom and a pre-K teacher who is teaching remotely. “We are up around 8 a.m., get dressed, eat breakfast, gather necessary supplies, and the kids go to their designated work areas. I bounce around from kid to kid, while I work on creating lessons and Zooming with my pre-k students. We take snack and movement breaks, and we are done for the day around 12:30 p.m.” 

“At our house, we do creative time first, and break up our day into one-hour blocks,” said Overstreet. “We work on school for two hours a day, which is all they can realistically handle. We need to make sure our kids are ok and supported. It’s definitely normal if they have breakdowns and get frustrated.” 

The technology aspect is tough on parents, too. “I had to spend an hour on YouTube watching how-to videos about Google Classroom,” said Katie Regalado, parent of a child at Clissold. “I’m not that old, but the tech divide is real!” 

From education to mental health experts, the bottom line is that everyone is in the same boat. Expectations are definitely shifted, and educators are taking that into account when planning for next school year. “We are definitely thinking about how to catch up our students when we get back,” Overstreet said. “With budgets and school improvement plan, we are determining how to allocate resources to support our kids while recognizing that there will be learning gaps for our students.”