By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Most of the schools in the area have welcomed students for the 2022-23 school year. Parents and educators have done everything they can to ensure a dynamic, successful year. Yet, they still face challenges beyond their control.
For example, the Illinois State Board of Education reported that more than 2,100 certified teacher positions remain unfilled statewide. Some local schools may be finding it a challenge to fill staff and teaching assistant vacancies.
As a community, we can’t wave a wand to fill every vacancy, but we can call the local public, private, and Catholic schools to see how we can make a difference. Maybe you won’t qualify to fill an open teacher position, but you may qualify to work as an assistant, parent mentor, or tutor. Some schools have foundations or “friends” groups to assist with fundraising and may need someone with your talent to join these ranks. There’s a directory of area schools at bapa.org/schools.
Here are some ways neighbors are already assisting our schools.
Over the summer, the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (The Alliance) hosted two backyard concerts to raise funds to cover some of the costs of sorely needed instrument repair and upgrades for the Morgan Park High School band. The group raised $2,500, including special donations from Monica Wilczak and Brian Wilson.
Chicago Public Library Back to School Kickbacks
During the last week of September, BAPA is partnering with the Beverly, Walker, and Mount Greenwood Branches of the Chicago Public Library to host three Back to School Kickbacks. The events offer a chance for teenaged students in grades 9 to 12 to acquire community service hours, and enjoy music, dance, games, spoken word activities, as well as pizza, and fun. Kickbacks will be held at Mount Greenwood Branch, 11010 S. Kedzie, Thurs., Sept. 29, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Beverly Branch, 1962 W. 95th St., Fri., Sept. 30, 5 to 8 p.m.; and Walker Branch, 11071 S. Hoyne, Sun., Oct. 1, 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders can get ready for the high school application process at High School 101, Wed., Sept. 21, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Co-sponsored by BAPA and the 19th Ward office of Ald. Matt O’Shea, the presentation features School Application Process a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) representative covering the process for applying for selective enrollment high schools, and the principals of Morgan Park High School and Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences discussing and answering questions about their schools. To register for the seminar, visit 19thwardmobile.com/high-school-101-a-seminar-for-parents/
A great way to wrap up this month’s column is in the glow of a recent Hope Chicago recipient who is starting college. Hope Chicago is a citywide program that covers tuition, books, fees, room and board, and surcharges for certain CPS students. In June, Morgan Park High School was among five high schools for which the group is covering the college education costs of all graduating seniors and at least one parent who also might want to return to school.
MPHS graduate, 19-year-old Davionna Johnson was one of the recipients. Johnson said the scholarship helped her afford pursuing a nursing degree. Prior to the Hope Chicago announcement, Johnson already had a partial scholarship but said it would have been a challenge to pay remaining costs “out of pocket.” In August, Johnson, the oldest of three children and a Beverly/Morgan Park resident, started her college career at Western Illinois University in Macomb.
Hope Chicago was launched last fall by former CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson, Pete Kadens, and Ted Koenig. Scholarship recipients also received a laptop and a small stipend to cover start-of-year necessities.
If you have a talent, idea, or contribution that might make a difference for a school in your area, reach out to the school’s principal. Here’s to a great 2022-23 school year!