Harold Ickes New School Update


The December 1999 RJ first revealed that the residents of 2233 S. Federal St. would feel some of the pain of progress.

The end finally came in recent months, when 65 families received word they would have only five weeks to vacate the premises that had been placed on a prioritized schedule to be demolished. Zip! Zap! No questions allowed. Just be ready for the movers because they will come. And come they did.
The movers came with disregard for the fact that the kitchens in each apartment had been renovated merely three months before. New floor tile, kitchen cabinets and stoves were installed just prior to when the eviction notices were issued. But CHA pressed on with the upheaval of families of long standing, young families with infant children, and seniors comfortable in a familiar neighborhood, all of whom were resigned to facing the pain of progress.

An earlier victim of the pain of progress was the nearby office building at 55 W. Cermak Blvd., which stood adjacent to 2233 S. Federal and also was an integral part of the community. This building once held the Chicago Housing Authority’s Occupancy Department, the CHA Police Department and the CHA Credit Union, among other departments. At one time, an expensive mosaic tile adorned the walls of the main lobby at 55 W. Cermak. This mosaic was treasured by all who visited the building. I wonder what happened to yet another displaced treasure.

The residents were informed of the change years ago. On Nov. 18, 1999, a community meeting was held to inform the residents of plans for new, cutting-edge developments on the site of the office building at 55 W. Cermak and 2233 S. Federal. The site would be used for a new institution, now known as the National Teaching Academy of Chicago. But was the residents’ sacrifice worth it?

This reporter was very gratified to have had an interview with Dr. B. Terry-Lundy, one of the main players in the development of the state-of-the-art curriculum that is to be offered to the classroom students and student teachers who will be coming from the universities in Chicago that will connect their teacher programs to the new curriculum being taught.

RJ: “Will there be a place for Parent Volunteers?”

BTL: “We haven’t covered that aspect of our staffing. However, I anticipate parental involvement.”

RJ: “What can the community look forward to in after-school programming?”

BTL: “At the end of a regular school day, 2:30 p.m., a new staff will take over and a complete community school will open for enrichment classes for high achievers. There will also be more assistance for low achievers, with no distinctions attached to who is eligible.”

RJ: “Will this community school be available to the adult residents?”

BTL: “Yes. There will be parent academic classes. Health, fitness and wellness classes. Physical education programs will center around nutrition. Healthy, normal physical fitness with swimming included.”

RJ: “This sounds extremely exciting to me. However, what plans do you have for helping parents help their children with computer skills?”

BTL: “There will be computer lab after 2:30 where they can learn how to help children at home. There will also be a time when they can come into the classroom and sit in on classes with their children.”

RJ: “What measures will be taken to combat poor and irregular attendance?”

BTL: “The whole curriculum is designed not to be traditional learning. It will be real world learning, hands-on situations. Interesting enough to attract better attendance and to allow students to enjoy school more. “The classroom is all-inclusive, meaning no separation of students with learning disabilities. There will be special education teachers available to assist each student.”

Terry-Lundy projected a complete overview of the state-of-the-art curriculum. He said it would be to the advantage of every adult who lives within the boundaries of this new educational breakthrough to stay alert to the dates and times of the open house.

He urged residents to visit the premises, become connected and become educationally enriched. The regular school day hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a closed campus lunch period.

The main address will be on Cermak Road, also known as 22nd Street. The Chicago Public School neighborhood boundaries are 18th Street to the north, 24th Street to the south, the railway on the west and Michigan on the east to 22nd Street, and then 22nd Street to the lake.

Teachers who are presently teaching at other CPS schools and have taught a minimum of four years will come to the Academy and spend 3 weeks to learn

more about engaging children in learning by using proven research and instructional strategies to improve student achievement. The purpose of this tactic is for the teachers to become strong and reflective and to take back what they’ve learned to the faculty of their school.

By taking turns, more than one person from the school learns the same things. Together, they form a network of in-school, experienced teachers.

Because the huge community center attached to the academy will house the physical education department, I was very interested in speaking to Tom Poulos, the physical education director.

Poulos explained that the new techniques for involving the students will have funding and work with a lifetime skills building program. Many activities will focus on individualization. However, intramural games will be designed to fine-tune good sportsmanship and healthy fun. A sensory motor program will be included to try and show the connection between physical education and academics.

A great idea, say many residents. It sounds like a new and good thing.

The icing on the cake is the extensive daily preschool programs for infants and toddlers up to 3 years old. All learning programs will be public and administered at no cost. Pre-schoolers ages 3 to 5 will have their own educational program geared toward giving them the best possible early childhood learning experience. The program will be geared toward fitting the needs of each child.

The hours of attendance for infants through toddlers will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the pre-kindergarteners, 3- to 5-year-olds, the hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To those parents who would need this service, their children will be among the first ever to attend school at the age of 0. Mind boggling!

Being a longtime resident of Harold Ickes, I have many wonderful pictures of before, during and after the completion of this state-of-the-art educational site. I intend to share a collage of the photos with the school so that the community can enjoy them.

It is my sincere hope that each child that was displaced for the edification of the Academy can return with his or her parents and become a complete and satisfied participant in the birth of a whole new educational system.

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