It Takes a Village: neighbors are making a difference in their community schools - Metropolitan Planning Council

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It Takes a Village: neighbors are making a difference in their community schools

In January MPC and the Chicago Architecture Foundation co-hosted The Micro Revolution: Neighbors Making a Difference-Part 2, the second in a two-part roundtable series. This one featured parents and school administrators who have worked to improve the quality and design of their community schools.

When a group of dedicated people come together, there is little they can't accomplish.  In September 2007, MPC and the Chicago Architecture Foundation co-hosted a roundtable that featured residents who brought about positive changes in their neighborhoods by putting their ideas and a little sweat equity into growing community gardens, linking regional bicycle trails, and raising the roof of a neighborhood health center.

 

Following the success of that event, MPC and the CAF joined forces again to co-host The Micro Revolution: Neighbors Making a Difference-Part 2, on Jan. 24, 2008, with a panel of parents and administrators who have worked to improve the quality and design of their community schools.     

  

The panel was moderated by Henry Webber, the vice president of community and government affairs at theUniversity of Chicago . The panelists were Mildred Swafford, president of Edward K. “Duke” Ellington Elementary School Local School Council (LSC); Linda Sarate, board member of the Little Village Community Development Corporation; Trung Le, design director of education at OWP/P; and Robert Guercio, principal of Alexander Graham Bell School in Lincoln Square. 

 

The panelists all stressed the importance different groups of people working together, and encouraged citizens to look for creative solutions to educational issues in their communities. 

 

Mr. Le described how he incorporates community participation and new technology to design schools around the way children learn.  Principal Guercio spoke about the parental and community involvement at his school. H e also encouraged educators not to blindly accept limitations, but rather engage students and community members to find innovative solutions to problems.  

  

Ms. Swafford and Ms. Sarate provided personal accounts of school reform in their communities.  Ms. Swafford described how she became involved in the LSC after witnessing the conditions of schools in her neighborhood.  Through her work, and by cooperation with neighbors and school administrators, Edward K. “Duke” Ellington Elementary School was built in 2005.  

Like Ms. Swafford, Ms. Sarate helped mobilize her community to fight for better schools for their children.  Thanks in part to her efforts, Little Village Lawndale High School was opened in 2005.   

 

Ms. Sarate summed up the message of the day by describing how, through a series of seemingly small steps, she “started to build momentum in a community that was tired of being disrespected and put aside…[I] helped the community to open their eyes and see what was going on.” 

 

To listen to an audio recording of the event, please visit Chicago Amplified

 

The Micro-Revolution roundtables were generously supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  For more information, please contact Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations, at 312-863-6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org.

 

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