School Update: Education, Community and Grit 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

In February 2020, the corona virus pandemic hit hard and held a harsh grip on Beverly/Morgan Park and other communities around the country, making 2020 a year that will go down in infamy. The repercussions of the virus on schools were many, from a sudden change of face-to-face to remote instruction, to parents having to balance their children’s learning goals with work and other responsibilities, to school principals and faculty seeing their school day stretch from eight hours and five days to 24 hours and seven days 

The list of ways we were challenged as a community is long. Yet we worked together to ensure our children received quality educations, whether learning in the class or remotely.   

Churches and schools showed up to make sure students had access to meals. Community volunteers showed up to tutor and share resources. Even, teens showed up to help in whatever ways they could contribute, including weeding public gardens, distributing food, donating toiletries and personal items, and cleaning up fall leaves and detritus for senior citizens 

This entire community showed up, but more importantly, our principals and educators showed up to demonstrate leadership and grit, responding to each pandemic punch with perseverance, commitment, and dedication to quality education and care for our childrenRead on for recent examples of that grit. 

Public School Principal Pod Collaborate to Ongoing Professional Development 

Our schools began the academic year with a commitment to provide highly engaging, interactive remote learning and to ensure that faculty remain on that course throughout the year. To that end, the public-school principal pod, comprised of principals from Barnard, Clissold, Esmond, Kellogg, Sutherland and Vanderpoel  elementary schools, collaborated to offer cross-community professional development and sharing of ideas. Last month, gym teachers from the various schools shared ideas for keeping their course content fresh and engaging. A similar session is planned for language arts teachers.  

MPHS Breakfast with Counselors  

In late October, Morgan Park High School (MPHS) held a Zoom breakfast with their counselors. Principals from across the 19th Ward were able to find out more about various offerings at MPHSThe event was spearheaded by MPHS Vice Principal Daniel Buys in response to a request from area public elementary schools. Some participants included principals Cory Overstreet (Kellogg) and Kate Valente (Barnard).  

Hats Off to . . . 

Hats off to parents, community members, school faculty and staff, and high school students who voted in the Local School Council elections in November 

Hats off to BAPA’s Public School Committee, led by Heather Wills,  for taking the time to support the efforts of public school principals to ensure quality choices in education across the neighborhood.  

Hats off to St. Rita High School, a BAPA Teen Corps partner, and Andrew McCullough for helping BAPA match young willing workers to senior citizens who needed help raking and cleaning their yards.  

Hats off to the private and Catholic School principals who opened their school doors while remaining committed to students’ safety and offering both in class and remote learning options. 

Teen Corps and Teen Corps Partners Rise to the Community’s Call  

BAPA’s Teen Corps is an initiative to alert teens to various needs for volunteers and calls for community service, and to empower teens to create their own projects. In November, Teen Corps members Jaylon Cox and Zadie, Zhien, and Zora Beaty participated in a drive to contribute toiletries and personal items to the Free Store organized by Turpin Cares. Other Teen Corps members plan to donate items or funds to help families whose stretched budgets leave few resources for acquiring toiletries and personal items. 

Chat2Learn Program Helps Parents Motivate Preschool-Aged Children 

State Sen. Emil Jones is encouraging parents who may need assistance to sign up for a new Illinois State Board of Education program, Chat2Learn. Through this program, parents receive conversation prompts to connect with their preschoolers and increase their literacy, math, and social emotional skills for kindergarten readiness. The program runs from Dec. 6 through June 30. For more information, visit 

St. Walter School Eat and Earn  

Got a taste for pizza? Place your order at Beggars on Dec. 16 and 20% of pizza order revenues for that day will go to St. Walter School. Eat & Earn locations are: 12700 S. Kedzie12660 S. Western3277 W. 115th Stor online at  

MPA Virtual Open House  

Morgan Park Academy will host a virtual open house Thurs., Dec. 17 for families interested in learning more about this topquality private school. For details, visit 







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