The Way I See It

By Heather Wills, Chair, BAPA Education Committee

It is still a marvel to me on how my family and I had the excellent fortune to stumble upon the community of Beverly/Morgan Park eleven years ago. We had been living in a condominium on the North Side. We wanted to remain in the city, but transition into a house. Our big prerequisites were a robust, vibrant and diverse community, along with strong schools.

I had told my husband about working in Beverly/Morgan Park as a nanny one summer while home from college. It had been for a family that lived in the St. Cajetan parish, which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time, being a good protestant from the suburbs. We decided to take a drive down one spring evening and knew with certainty that we had found our neighborhood; the community where we would set down roots and raise our family.

When you think about strong neighborhoods, places featured in Chicago Magazine or areas where statistics are touted in the Chicago Tribune, schools are always an identifying factor. The whole community of schools is taken into consideration, not just the public, private or parochial schools. In order to keep all our community schools prospering, even the ones our children do not attend, we need to be deliberate in helping them succeed. One of BAPA Education Committee’s vital goals is to involve the community in meaningful partnerships with our local schools. This includes schools helping schools by making connections with one another, as well as the community becoming familiar with all their neighborhood schools.

I have been in the field of education for the past 16 years, and am sure that I am not alone in thinking that teaching is one of the most fulfilling occupations, also one of the most demanding. I once heard a devoted and respected teacher say that she spent her career knowing that she had daily failures in the classroom. If you question that, think about how you feel as a parent on any given day, or is that just me? The Education Committee will be working with local schools and The Villager to highlight some of our phenomenal teachers and programs. Our schools and teachers are doing some incredible work with students and it should be recognized.

Open and fluid communication between parents, schools, local elected officials and other community stakeholders is another important goal of the BAPA Education Committee. We are privileged to have numerous school choices for our children in the community. We may not always agree on policies and decisions, but we can work together in creating a climate and culture where everyone feels heard and valued.

There are so many things that I have grown to love about the Beverly/Morgan Park community. I am thankful that we found a neighborhood which values education, and understands the importance of working together. I hope that we will continue to grow in our efforts and stand alongside schools to help them maximize the academic achievement and social competence of all students in a safe, nurturing and developmentally rich environment.

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