It Takes a Village to Raise a Great School 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

November has always been the second to the last month, at least in the Gregorian calendar. But did you know November was only the ninth (of ten) months in the Roman calendar, as implied in its Latin term “novem,” meaning nine?  

What else do we know about November? It marks the beginning of winter holidays and is symbolic of community: participating, giving back, collaborating, and giving thanks for good neighbors and great schools. (Okay, you’ve found me out. I added that last part about great schools, but it’s true!) 

But great schools don’t just happen. Great students don’t just emerge from the womb with diplomas, degrees, and awards. Just as the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” It takes a village to raise and maintain great schools. 

In addition to stellar leadership, teachers, staff, school families, and students, many principals agree that its community participation and involvement that keeps schools are their peak. Just ask Principal Ann Marie Riordan who credited parishioner and community involvement as one of the factors contributing to Christ the King School’s Blue Ribbon status. If you drive by the school, you’ll see that the banner says we are a “Blue Ribbon community.”  

Neighbors have contributed to the success of school gardens, like Kellogg and Sutherland Schools. (See “Kellogg Wins Third Garden Award” in this issue.) Neighbors have stepped up and joined Local School Councils (LSC) at neighborhood schools. Feel free to contact your neighborhood school to see when elections, typically held every two years in the spring, occur next. LSC members are responsible for approving how school funds and resources are allocated. They develop and monitor school improvement plans and evaluate and select school principals. If you’re interested in joining your public school’s LSC as a community member,  you can find contact information at bapa.org/schools.  

Other ways to get busy doing good… 

Each October, Clissold School hosts a walkathon to raise funds to purchase educational materials and to replace or update technology. Though their last walk-a-thon just passed, the school will be accepting donations through November. For more information, email Teena Van Dyke, clissoldcougarama@gmail.com. 

BAPA offers ways neighbors can get involved with helping area students. BAPA Tutor Corps is a free tutoring service. Volunteer tutors work with students in basic math and reading, algebra, geometry, science, languages, and other areas. Neighbors who can volunteer as tutors are encouraged to contact me for more information at tbell@bapa.org. 

Teen Corps is another BAPA initiative. It began during the pandemic as a way to connect area teens  in 8th through 12th grades with opportunities to earn service hours volunteering with community projects and events, such as neighborhood clean-ups, Ridge Run, summer church events, Cook County Forest preserve tasks, and more.  

The Teen Corps is always open for teens who want to receive volunteer updates. However, the greater need with this group is on the leadership end. The Teen Corps Board of Directors offers the chance for teens to create volunteer opportunities, plan teen gatherings, collaborate with community groups like the Beverly Area Arts Alliance and Chicago Public Libraries, and develop youth leadership workshops. For more information about becoming a part of the Teen Corps Board, contact me at tbell@bapa.org. 

Thank you, Chicago Public Libraries! 

Earlier this fall, the Beverly, Walker, and Mount Greenwood branches of the Chicago Public Library hosted three back to school teen kickbacks. The librarians at each of these branches want the community to know that their facilities can be fun and safe gathering spaces where teens spend time. For youth, the libraries offer maker’s labs, video games, and a host of other activities. Stay tuned for more events at these libraries. Search offerings from these locations at chipublib.org.  

 

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