The New Teachers Academy


The Cermak Teachers Training Academy is being built at Cermak and Dearborn Streets within the boundaries of Harold Ickes Homes. It has been in the planning stages for the last two years and the residents of the Ickes public housing development are awaiting the fulfillment of the promise that the children who live within the boundaries will attend the school.

For the past 20 years, the federal, state and city governments have all staggered under the weight of global comparison of our educational systems and the results of so much failure to produce better readers, mathematicians and scientifically astute students. So the powers that be for us – the City of Chicago or, more specifically, the Chicago Board of Education – took a look at what the causes for such widespread academic failure could be and what they could do to make a change.
Well, since the characteristics of the causes are too numerous to count, to focus on, to try to correct and, in some cases, seriously beyond correction, the city focused on what it could do toward solving the problem. The idea of a teacher’s teaching academy was conceived, nurtured and funded. The school is expected to open for classes for the 2002-2003 school year. The concept of the state-of-the-art school is so new that many of the residents of Ickes do not have a clue of the enormity of the character of the curriculum to be offered to all of the school’s participants in this innovative educational experiment.

“This school is a teaching school like some hospitals are teaching hospitals,” Mayor Richard M. Daley told reporters who were privy to be at the ground-breaking ceremonies held on Wednesday, March 14.

There is to be a separate building for a part of the Teacher’s Teaching Academy campus that will house more facilities for the residents of Ickes. To be more specific, the building will house an indoor swimming pool, a full gymnasium and a day care center. During the day, the students attending the academy will go to the gymnasium for classes. There will be an enclosed crosswalk for personal safety. After school hours, the door to and from the gym will be closed off to the community center.

The new school project has had a generally good impact on the community. So far, two of our residents are working with the construction crew. After a certain phase is finished, more will be hired. While speaking to construction employee Linda Liggins about working conditions, I asked her these questions:

RJ: “Was it hard to get the job?”

LL: “No. Not really. I applied at the city mobile employment center across State Street at 23rd.”

RJ: “How did they treat you?”

LL: “They treated us great. No different than the others. They are friendly.”

RJ: “How many children will you have attending the new school?”

LL: “Three adopted children and two grandchildren.”

RJ: “What do you think of the new school?”

LL: “I think it’s going to be great if we get to use it.”

RJ: “Did you know that it will also be a school to teach teachers?”

LL: “Oh. I didn’t know that.”

This reporter took time out this past weekend to talk to some of the youngest children who will be going to the school. While interviewing the youngsters, they were very open about how they felt about the new school.

RJ: “What do you think about the new school that will be opening right here where you live?”

Jewel Gates, 7: “I like it. I want to go to there. I go to John C. Haines now. It’s a long walk.”

Antionette M. Rattcliff, 6: “When I think about the new school, I think about how I will play, have fun and listen to my teacher.”

Leon Livingston: “I really want to go to that school because my teacher now is mean to me. I think they’ll be better over there.”

De Sheen Johnson: “I used to go to Gentry Center. I want to go there, to the new school. It’s close too.”

Taking advantage of the great weather on a recent weekend, some parents talked about the new school while outdoors with their children.

Joann Williams: “I guess it’s a good idea. They’ll probably get a better education than at Williams. They need something better than they have now at Williams. This new school will probably have better teachers who will care about the children.”

Idella Ross is vice president of the Ickes Local Advisory Council: “I just realized that it (the new school) is for teaching teachers. They first said that it is for 700 children. Now where are the teachers going to be? I really don’t like it because it should be just for kids. When I tried to get my son into the new school, South Loop, I was refused flatly. But if they let other kids from other areas come in other areas come in front of the Ickes kids, that will be totally wrong.”

Janet Crofton: “My nephew lives here and he needs special classes for stuttering. I hope he can get in the new school to benefit from new teaching methods. A lot of kids from here have the same problem.
“The residents of Harold L. Ickes face a future of great expectations built on promises for new and exceptional educations for their children. “I hope they keep in mind how they can support their local LAC, building presidents and their children as this new day in education is born to them.”

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