STEM Magnet School Year 2011/2012

September 7, 2011 at 9:59 am 73 comments

Ok, STEM magnet parents.  I’m so curious to see how the year progresses!  Keep in mind that getting things perfect takes a little time (something I’ve heard from principals repeatedly.)

I’m sure some of you may start classroom groups or a school message board (my son’s class set up a Google Group which is nice.)

But in the meantime, feel free to use this thread to share information and let us know how it’s going — especially in regards to the longer school day!

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Zoinks! 3 CPS Schools Vote to Extend Their Day Weekly Events and Announcements w/o 9/12

73 Comments Add your own

  • 1. maria a.  |  September 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I’ll shoot. I’ve been wanting to e-mail the principal, but I’m sure she’s very busy at this point. I have a lot of questions about the school, mainly about details and logistics. Some of the attachments to emails from the school were unreadable. Maybe some people here will know the answers.

    -How can parents volunteer?
    -Are there room parents? If not, will room parents be assigned?
    -There needs to be a good system in place for drop-off and pickup. Pickup was chaos yesterday.
    -Is the school nut or peanut free?
    -How can we contact our child’s teacher? Is there a list of teacher e-mails somewhere?
    -How about class contact lists?
    -It would be nice if the school or individual classes held an event for parents to meet each other. My daughter was at South Loop before this, and every school year began with a parent “Meet and Greet” cocktail party. It was fun, and a great way to get us all communicating. These were arranged by the room parent for each class.

    BTW, my daughter is in Ms. DiSabatino’s 3rd grade class. If there is something already set up for us, I’d love to hear about it.

  • 2. new K mom  |  September 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    How did the parents from your child’s class set up the website? Did the moderator get the info from the principal? elena (mom of Kindergartener at STEM)

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  September 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I think we’d exhanged emails very early on, and we just emailed as a group for a while, but that got difficult to manage, so then one person set up the google group, sent us the link, and we all joined.
    That way, people can get each email one by one, a daily summary, or a weekly summary.

    There are some days where we generate a lot of emails (mainly difficult homework.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 4. new K mom  |  September 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    So it started with a few emails & then more kept adding on & spread word of mouth? I just don’t know if I should ask McManus if she could send it out to the K parents, making it clear that they’re not affiliated with it in any way.

    I’m just struggling with how much to ask the teachers/McManus questions, given it’s the first week & so much is happening. On the flip-side, I have no idea what behavior techniques are they doing in class? is my kid on the “A” track or “B” track? Does he need to wear gym clothes? Two days my son has said he doesn’t have time to eat his sandwich. Is it that he daydreams or that they really don’t have time?… I’m a K mom. I sent him to pre-K but there was an opportunity for me to establish a relationship with the teacher & director. Do I just give them time? At the same time, as you stated, it takes a while to iron out the kinks.

  • 5. SuJe  |  September 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

    @new K mom: I’m having some of the same questions. My son is saying the same thing about lunch. He said he’s actually trying to finish and he just can’t. The teachers always seem so overwhelmed with the chaos of pickup, so I don’t want to bog them down with questions. At the same time, I feel like I have no idea what’s going on! It’d be nice if they could send an e-mail at the end of this week sort of recapping what’s happened thus far. I really don’t want to be the overbearing helicopter mom, but throw me a bone or something! Maybe parents of older kids can tell us whether this is normal. Perhaps the pre-K experience has led us to expect too much in the way of interaction and communication. Maybe we, as parents, can coordinate at the Open House on the 19th, if not sooner.

  • 6. SuJe  |  September 9, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Also, is anyone else concerned about the backlash STEM is getting from CTU? Principal McManus seems pretty firm about the school’s decision and she obviously now has the mayor at her back, but the union seems to be pretty hot right now. I just read this in the Sun-Times: http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/7548117-418/teachers-union-chief-emanuel-declared-war-over-longer-school-day.html

    What does this mean for our school? Is there a possibility that this legal action by CTU would halt the schedule change or will this complaint be dismissed out of hand? I was a little ambivalent about the extended day, but now that it’s moving forward, I would hate to see our kids get jerked around in this. (Plus, the extra time might allow them to finish their lunches!)

  • 7. kinder mom  |  September 9, 2011 at 9:22 am

    @ newKmom and @SuJu My son is also in kinder and he ALSO stated that he didnt have time to eat his food. I thought he might have been exaggerating but now that I see other children are saying the same thing it kind of concerns me. These children are young and have a long day at school and if they aren’t getting enough time how will they be able to focus on an empty stomach? I also have the same questions as you two and also feel like I am sending too many emails to his teacher. Just and FYI, Ms. Tobiason’s class is class A.

  • 8. ChicagoGawker  |  September 9, 2011 at 9:27 am

    @3 and @4, get that google group going yourselves. Get email addresses of the other parents at pick up/drop off. My understanding is the teacher cannot initiate this. And you can invite her to be a member or not. You can speak freely with each other if the teacher is not a member, but that can get out of hand as well. I would be astounded if you get an email recapping the day or other info about what group your child is in, unless you ask, based on my CPS experience. So, yes I don’t think you’re going to have the level of communication and interaction that you had in preschool, and this is typical.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  September 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Regarding the group, as CG said, the school cannot give out email or addresses nor sign anyone into a group. Someone in the class or school needs to do that. Easier to start with a class, as you’ll feel more comfortable sharing info quickly. I’d leave the teacher out, personally.

    Someone needs to just take control, set up the group, and make a flyer/note for the teacher to put in everyone’s folder to let the parents know how to sign up.

    Our class also made a contact sheet with our names, emails, and addresses (for birthday party invites, etc.)

    I will say, we have been REALLY lucky to have a few highly organized and tech savvy individuals.

    In any CPS school, especially a new one, the parents have to take on the stuff like that. Another easy way is a class get-together where everyone signs a sheet with their info.

    As a note, some people cannot deal with things like Google groups and prefer to just have a giant email list, which can be an easy way to start, once you get everyone’s emails. But trust me, once you start debating about homework, lunches, and video games, you might be bombarded with emails and the Group approach might seem preferable. 🙂

  • 10. kinder parent  |  September 9, 2011 at 10:00 am

    what is the difference between group a & b

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  September 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Ok, now regarding the lunches. 2 things I’ll tell ya about school:

    1. You’ll never feel as helicopter-y as you do as a new Kindergarten parent of your first child.
    2. You have to learn to live with a bit of chaos as a CPS parent.

    My son’s school is wonderful, the routines are set up, most of the staff has been there a couple years or more. And we still exist in a lot of chaos. CPS schools seem to assume that parents know things without being told. It makes me crazy, but I know there’s so much that’s right with our school that I’ve learned to let it slide.

    That first year is hard though. I think the key is to go for the most important things first, keeping in mind the school and teachers have to get into a routine, that will happen quickly, but there are a million details to work out.

    I’d let some of the administrative stuff slide for a little while. The lunch thing does sound pervasive. Maybe if one parent writes the teacher saying “I’ve heard several parents mention that the kids don’t have enough time to eat. I know you’re still working out the details, but can you let us know if there’s anything we can do to help?” (ie. need parents in lunchrooms to help little kids open stuff, need parents/staff to move kids to the right place, etc.) I’m certain that when the school day is extended, it will improve. But some kids are just chatterboxes at lunch, or too busy looking around and with the short lunch, it is over way too fast.

    My son’s school used to have parent volunteers. Not sure if they still do. They also make kids either their sandwich or protein first, since the lunch time was so short. My son often came home having eaten 3 bites of his sandwich and nothing else. It makes me crazy.

    Unfortunately with the school being new it’ll take some time to organize parent volunteers for the lunchroom, etc. It was months before we got that going, I think.

    For now, just keep stressing with the kiddos what to eat first.

    Also, for Kindergarten, my son’s class did an afternoon snack that parents took turns bringing in. You may want to inquire about that.

    Good luck, guys!!! Remember, you’re trading some initial chaos for what sounds like will be an amazing school for your kids over the years. A month of Kindergarten chaos won’t matter after 9 years of a good education.

  • 12. kinder mom  |  September 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

    @kinder parent…the only difference between group a and b is the subjects they study on a certain day. They both will study the same thing but for example, on Mondays group A has art and group B has gym, on Tuesday group A has gym and group B has art..etc…

  • 13. CityGall37  |  September 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

    #3 and #4 – in past years I have left an email log with the teacher during back to school night or report card pickup. If the teacher is agreeable, ask her to have each parent sign in. If not, hope you can be at drop off or pickup to find parents. Of course, this won’t be easy.

  • 14. magnet mom  |  September 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Building up from a class email/phone tree consider organizing a school directory. It sounds complicated but it’s not so bad and can really help everyone get in touch and build strength as a community for school. Do you have an active PTO/PTA yet? If they have funds or if you have any NCLB parent funds it can go to printing– or maybe some of that new funding. It’s not that expensive.
    You can put it together a couple of ways. One way is to send home a flyer asking for everyone’s phone etc and organize it class by class. A second way is to send home a flyer that asks parents to opt out if they don’t want to be in the directory and then use the info provided to school. Try to see if three eager new stem parents might be up for it.
    Also if you are finding that parents are wishing for more information maybe ask if the principal could host a coffee before drop- off or to stop into a PTO/PTA meeting to share info she wishes to give or for casual parent questions.
    As a parent one of the best places to get a moment with a principal can be the LSC meetings. Often they share really excellent info there. It may be that STEM does not have an LSC yet so the PTO/PTA might be your best bet.
    Lunch has never gotten that much better for us. Seems that the best things we do is bring some good snacks to share after school and make sure that our kids have something. I really like the afternoon snack idea from cpso– we have an optional morning snack but not afternoon.
    I find that if I send something wholesome along with the sandwich that gets eaten a least the kids have some calories in ’em. I pack something like a not so sweet muffin or piece of cake without junk on it.
    Good luck- kicking off a new school can’t be easy!

  • 15. new K mom  |  September 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    After school, I”ll have a email sign up sheet. Clearly, I won’t get everyone but by word of mouth maybe we’ll get a handful of parents & then more at open house.

    You can reach me at kstemom@gmail.com

    Maybe then we can continue addressing some of these concerns/questions.

    In the meantime, thanks to the other moms/dads who gave feedback. Great tips & words of wisdom! I really appreciate it!!! elena

  • 16. Christine  |  September 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    We have a Google group at Skinner North. I think it was set up by a parent originally but the principal sent out a note about it in his newsletter.

    Another thing about Kindergarten lunch — it gets better. It took my Kg 6 months last year to figure out how to order lunch, how to open her own milk carton, etc. and that she better focus on eating. There’s a learning curve. Ask your volunteer chair if they need lunchroom volunteers to help the kids out. And if there is no volunteer chair, yu might think about volunteering to BE the volunteer chair.

    Also — after eating that sugary breakfast at 9:00am she just wasn’t hungry at 11:30 for her lunch. She usually ate most of it in the car on the way home.

  • 17. Daddy  |  September 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    We are definitely keeping quiet for a bit while the admin has a chance to work out the many kinks this first week or so. However I do want to echo the same complaint from our child re the short lunch time.

  • 18. HSObsessed  |  September 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    And I’ll just chime in as an experienced CPS parent to echo what cpso said about the chaos. There’s always plenty of it, so don’t think STEM is too chaotic because it’s new; it’s just the way it seems to be in many CPS schools.

    I remember how shocking it was to go from a private preschool environment, where there was high security pick up procedure and daily notes/weekly newsletters, etc. to kindergarten at CPS, where mobs of kids were just let out the door en masse, and barely any communication from the teacher for weeks on end. I learned to be zen and let go. If my kid seemed OK in general, I figured things were OK. (However, the instances in which there really was a big problem that arose, I reached out and got responses/action.) It was just the plunge into the lack of structure and information from day to day and week to week that took some getting used to.

  • 19. SuJe  |  September 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    … and this:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-chicago-teachers-union-files-complaint-to-block-schools-from-lengthening-day-20110909,0,7084575.story?track=ctiphoneapp

    Does anyone think the CTU will succeed in blocking the longer day? I know of at least one Skinner North parent who would be thrilled, but I’m not so sure if that would be good for STEM. I’ve never really paid attention to CTU news before. How likely is this to go through?

  • 20. T  |  September 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    My daughter in kinder is also having a very hard time finishing lunch, she says she sits and eats quickly without taking and barley has time to finish her sandwich, and its a very long day to go on such little food. Im not a fan of longer days AT ALL and with a longer day I really will want her to be able to eat more….PARENTS BEWARE a child tried to leave out of the side gate of playground and I emailed the principal if she could lock it with no success so far so talk to your kids about staying away from that gate…

  • 21. Working mom  |  September 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Daily complaints from my 1st grader having to throw part of his lunch away because there is not enough time to finish it. I’m not sure what to do about this? I think the “time” is ticking away due to the logistics of having the cafeteria and playground separated by almost half a block, since lunch and recess are combined. He didn’t have this problem last year at a CPS school with 10 mins less time for lunch and recess. The cafeteria door opened right next to the playground. Oh well, packing nutritious snacks for after school is a good idea. I’ll try that for a while and see what happens:-)

  • 22. Joe  |  September 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I don’t think that CTU will be successful in trying to stop a longer day from coming. That’s because from day one CTU has not really opposed a longer day. CTU has two main objections:

    1. A 29% longer day for 2% less money than they were promised for no extra time.
    2. An ill-defined extra 90 minutes of test prep rather than improving the quality of the day.

    With that said, the waiver at Skinner can’t be allowed to stand (from CTU’s standpoint anyway). The CTU could be sued if they allowed it to stand actually if the details of the law suit are accurate. I only know what I read online in the PDF of the file, but the voted a union delegate, which the school didn’t have and the vote was decided by 3 teachers who were not in the union yet and the vote was conducted without any secrecy.

    If a school votes for a waiver, that’s fine. However, they need to do it by the rules that CPS has made for this situation. If the teachers really want the longer day, the should be able to vote for it legitimately and have it pass.again.

  • 23. STEM Family  |  September 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Right now, I believe Principal McManus could use the support of her STEM parents. She took a stand for what she and most of us want and feels is in the best interest of our children. Unfortunately, she, the STEM staff and our children are stuck in the middle of a fight between the CTU (Lewis) and the city of Chicago (Emanuel). STEM parents, let’s show Principal McManus we appreciate her courage and leadership, by standing with her in support of the extended school day.

  • 24. Working mom  |  September 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    @22 STEM family – agree whole heartedly.

    In addition to the 90 extra minutes of instruction, I heard about a brand new facility located in Lincoln Park that provides FUN science enrichment for children. It’s called “Kids Science Labs.” This might be fun for STEM students. Might as well pile on more instruction at school and outside of school… In a good way though:-)

    http://www.kslchicago.com

  • 25. diane  |  September 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    To the parents concerned about time to eat lunch:

    FWIW, I just asked my 3rd Grade STEM student what he thought about the amount of time to eat. He said it was fine and that he didn’t have a problem finishing his food.

    But I will tell you that I also have a 1st grader (who is not in CPS) and “not enough time for lunch” is among his top complaints in general. It was last year as well. I don’t know about other parents’ children, but my 1st grader takes FOREVER to eat, and multiply FOREVER by 2, if there is the distractions of friends, etc. I tell him that he doesn’t have to inhale his food, but that he does need to move a little more quickly.

  • 26. Patty of Beverly  |  September 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Is there a website for STEM elementary school yet? I can’t seem to find the school website.

  • 27. SC  |  September 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Patty. I am in Beverly as well. Do you have children at STEM? The school website is located on the Office of Academic Enhancement site: http://www.cpsoae.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=72694&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=275285.

  • 28. A.M.  |  September 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I have a 3rd grader at STEM, and she too has talked about not being able to finish her lunch. It is also a concern of mine, however, I too am trying to be mindful that it is just the first week of school, and to be patient hoping that things will change. I think with the construction still going on, and it being a new school things will be hectic for quite some time. I’m hoping that things will be better and a little more organized after Christmas break. After discussing with my daughter her daily activities and school work so far, I am right now optimistic about what she is learning and her overall experience at STEM. With the help of parents and staff I believe STEM has the potential to be a magnificent institution of learning for our children. Let’s work together to guaranteed its success

  • 29. A.M.  |  September 13, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Well the principal sent out an e-mail about lunch, so I guess all of our questions have been answered…Our children are being rushed for lunch, so better let them know not to talk during lunch, and make sure they eat! Save the talking for recess!

  • 30. Working mom  |  September 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Interestingly, my 1st grader finished his lunch yesterday because he said “I didn’t talk as much!” “I also packed his lunch yesterday too so he wouldn’t have to stand in line for school lunch. I’m happy.

  • 31. LSC Mom  |  September 14, 2011 at 4:52 am

    I am a parent and I feel what the principal of STEM did was shady. Very few staff were needed to tip a vote that got them an extra $150,000 for the school — I think I read it’s $1500 per child.

    Systemwide there are so many inequities. I’ve seen principals be hounds for resources in a way that’s icky, and it comes at the expense of another school, somewhere on another side of the city.

    The cash payout is a bribe, and this principal took it. She didn’t involve parents in the decision.

    It says, “Parents, you’re not important.”

    It says, “Someday I get to put this chit in with Rahm Emanuel.”

    Even if you’re for more time in the day, it’s Machiavellian. Do you think the “ends justify the means”? Is that the foundational principal of our society?

  • 32. kinder parent  |  September 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    the mayor said the option to get 150K is open for all schools.it was not a secret. if it was shady, then no school would get the funds..Ask yourself or the other schools why they are not choosing to extend day.

  • 33. Working mom  |  September 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    @LSC: Umm, why are you singling out STEM Principal McManus? In case you haven’t heard, several other schools have elected to extend their school day as well! Are you labeling those school Principals as shady too? Please be fair.

    “principals be hounds for resources…” Well I call that leadership and resourcefulness. In fact, that is what I expect. Call it what you want, but I would rather have a Principal out pounding (not hounding) the pavement for resources than sitting at his/ her desk unsure of what to do and how to get it.

    I agree with you that STEM parents weren’t involved in the decision though. It would have been nice (i.e., skinner north, disney II) but STEM did not have that luxury because the school had not opened. Heck, McManus is probably still being introduced to new parents every day.

    The extended school day is going to happen…just be prepared and be fair.

  • 34. SuJe  |  September 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    As Principal McManus said, she is not mad at CTU officials for doing their job, but they should not be mad at her for doing hers. If you have the opportunity for more resources for your school — and more time to cram in a very ambitious schedule — you take it. As a STEM parent, I’m proud of our principal and I support this move wholeheartedly.

  • 35. Daddy  |  September 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Right on SuJe!

  • 36. UIC parent  |  September 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    @32. Working mom: Totally agree with you. Most of the parents I talked to support the longer school day so far. This is a new school with so many uncertainties. I would always feel OK as far as their quick decision benefit my kid. I believe principle Maria’s leadership. She deserves the fully support from all of us.

  • 37. STEM Family  |  September 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Sounds to me like “LSC mom”, who clearly isn’t a STEM parent because we don’t have an LSC, is jealous because her principal wasn’t courageous enough to do what is in the best interest of children. Everyday we hear about other schools that are signing waivers for the extended 90 minutes. Under Principal McManus’ leadership, STEM parents can proudly say we are the pioneers.
    @SuJe and @UIC – I agree STEM families should be proud of our principal and show her our full support in whatever way possible.

  • 38. LSC Mom  |  September 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    @31-36 To quote Gertrude Stein, “A bribe is a bribe is a bribe is a bribe.”

    You can say I’m just jealous. What I am is disappointed that a new, comparatively well-funded brand new program like STEM and even Disney II (that only had to add 20 mins for $150k) are accepting payouts that would inarguably be more equitably spent on struggling schools that still have a “restructured day” (7:45am-1:30pm w/ teacher lunch at the end of the day) that can’t fundraise and are in need of more resources and a longer, more well-rounded school day.

    Just remember, your property taxes got raised to fund this scheme.

    True, Disney II was funding their extended day, and why should parents pay when there’s a cash offer on the table? But there are a handful of other schools that fund longer days too. So there is already a body of information a “pilot” can “learn” from without decking $150k. I’m saying, to roll out a sustainable longer day, to “learn” what’s going to make a successful launch across the system, why not prioritize sites that lack capacity or specific characteristics to be pilots?

    My kid’s school does great and has more resources than most. So no thank you cashola.

  • 39. Hmmmmm  |  September 15, 2011 at 8:13 am

    The bonus is available to all schools and some very needy schools have gladly accepted. STEM and Disney and Skinner and other unknown schools that have already accepted the longer day do not need to justify their decision made in the best interest of their children.

    If others at your school feel that they have more than enough money, resources and are happy with the schedule, curriculum, opportunities for advancement and socialization, receive training in the arts, enjoy sports – then I would say this program is not for you. I wonder if others at your school actually do feel this way. In addition, if your school is as rigorous as these schools mentioned, I’m sure that positioning your kids for the top high schools in Chicago will be no problem when going against these kids that have enhanced learning schedules.

  • 40. diane  |  September 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I haven’t even really spoken to Ms. McManus at length, but so far I think she’s great, and I love her attitude and the new STEM program.

    And I love my son’s teacher. Everyone just seems to be so excited and enthusiastic to roll the new program out.

    Now if I could just teleport my child to STEM in the morning —

  • 41. cps Mom  |  September 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I wonder if a different perspective might help.

    All the parent volunteer work at my school directly saves teachers jobs (not so good for Admin. jobs). With all the necessary cuts this year everyone is pitching in and making do to support teacher jobs. Of course our pay-off is that we get to keep good teachers.

    The stipulation on these school funds is that the school gets to use the money “as they see fit”. Might they not be used to save teacher jobs?

  • 42. cpsmomof2  |  September 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    From what I understand, the money can NOT be used for salaries.

  • 43. cps Mom  |  September 16, 2011 at 7:48 am

    You can’t hire a teacher for additional programming?

  • 44. cps Mom  |  September 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I see the stipulation in the plan

    “In addition, participating schools will also receive up to $150,000 in discretionary funds which may be used for supporting the Longer School Day, other than additional teacher compensation.”

    It’s not clear to me that they are referring to creating jobs or keeping teachers that did not survive budget cuts. My take is that they are talking salary increases – someone in the know can feel free to correct.

  • 45. 4MOM  |  September 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I just created a blog, it’s not the final thing but this is a great start. Please feel free to give me your feedback or suggestions to make this blog better for the parents, the teachers and if possible the principal, too. Please check it out: http://stem-school.blogspot.com/

  • 46. Working mom  |  September 17, 2011 at 6:44 am

    @4mom: very nice of you to set up a STEM blog. I checked it out and it’s very impressive. Will this be a private blog for members only or open to the general public? Or it even possible to make it private? Just curious… Thank you.

  • 47. CoolDad  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

    4Mom, the blog looks great. Thanks for taking the initiative. We should pass the word around about the blog to get some traction. thanks again…

  • 48. 4mom  |  September 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Unfortunately, I had to take it down…until further approval from the Principal, we need to discuss further. Thank you all for thinking the blog was a great tool.

  • 49. diane  |  September 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    What did people think about the open house this evening? Personally I was blown away by the technology and science labs. They’re amazing, and I love my son’s classroom and teacher.

  • 50. STEM Family  |  September 20, 2011 at 12:25 am

    @ Diane, I agree, the entire building renovation looked great. The classes are huge and the labs remind me of HS labs. The entire staff seems very young, energetic (especially the PE teacher) and determined to make STEM the premier school in the city. We are so lucky.

  • 51. Working mom  |  September 20, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Loved the building tour at the Open House! My child’s classroom is very cute and organized, as I’m sure the other classrooms are as well.

    Just wondering if McManus will get an Asst. Principal at some point to help her with administrative duties? It seems like most schools have an AP so why not STEM. I’d hate for her to get burned out although she is very energetic and focused.

  • 52. david  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Yes, the school rocks. I love how the rooms are lit up well. They are inviting, and the labs kick major behind. how about that math specialist and his notes on the wall, awesome. Mr brown and the science labs, mad cool. the hyper gym teacher, who will work off all the energy these kids are bringing.. My older daughter is in 5th grade and i have been to other open houses, and have never witnessed so many parents engaged, even at the kindergarten level. i feel proud to say my daughter goes to a cps school.

  • 53. SuJe  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

    The Open House was amazing!!!! Having just done the CPS open house rounds last year for kindergarten, I couldn’t help thinking how much of a fit prospective families are going to have when they see this place! To quote our awesome principal, the waiting list really will be “from here to Kankakee.” 🙂

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  September 20, 2011 at 11:03 am

    That’s awesome you guys. Let us know when the next open house is. So they did manage to get all the building work done before school? I recall there was concern about that a couple months ago.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 55. West Loop  |  September 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hi CPS Obsessed. Last night was actually a tour of the school for current parents. The principal had planned to offer tours at the “block party” a week prior to the school opening but the building was not yet ready. Amazingly they got the school done in time for the first day. There is some additional work to be done (elevator, etc.) but the school is fully functioning. Last night parents also had the opportunity to meet their children’s teachers in their classrooms. And Principal McManus also honored the committee of parents that spent the last year getting the school approved and opened.

  • 56. SuJe  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Out of curiosity, were all of those parents who were mentioned last night able to get their kids into STEM? Does anyone know?

  • 57. Hope not  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    @55, if so, that’s really messed up and should be investigated.

  • 58. STEM parent  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I know of a parent mentioned last night who was involved in getting the school started, and they did not get their child in. So relax!

  • 59. Information is free  |  September 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    @47 Why did a blog have to be taken down? As long as it’s not using cps.k12.il.us URL it should be fine. Parents crave communication, so it’s not in violation of anything. Perhaps a private FB or Google group instead so it’s not visible to the greater public?

  • 60. SuJe  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    LOL STEM Parent! I was just curious :)I mean, I wouldn’t be mad if their kids had an automatic in, but I’m sure hell would be raised!

  • 61. West Loop  |  September 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    @55. No, not all their kids were accepted into the school.

  • 62. Teddy  |  September 21, 2011 at 10:49 am

    @56 – all those parents who were introduced worked for 18 months, some every single day, to get the community this new school. And they all knew full well that their children would be placed in the lottery, just like everyone else’s children. But they did the work anyway. As others have said, some of their children were not accepted.

    Maybe you should just say “thank you.”

  • 63. 4MOM  |  September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am

    @58: I understand, but I think I provided too much information about the the Principal’s updates and I can understand the privacy and security reasons. I also had a calendar with all the events/meetings of the school and other newsletters for the parents to view. She did see the blog and thought it was very impressive, but wanted to discuss more about it and go over it what will be posted and who will have access to view. I will be meeting with her and hopefully, she will approve. I will keep you all posted! 😉

  • 64. SuJe  |  September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Well put, Teddy. Thank you!

    I’ve been a little amazed at the sense of entitlement some in our school community seem to have. Parents “threatening” the principal to withdraw their children over busing issues, other parents demanding space for siblings, etc. On the other hand, I stood next to a parent on the first day who was nearly in tears because she was so grateful and said she’d waited so long for an opportunity like this to come for her son.

    I feel for those parents who put in the time and didn’t get their kids in. I’m sure everything won’t always be perfect, but I’m hoping we can keep things in perspective moving forward.

  • 65. Curious Mom  |  September 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

    @62 I am also curious why you took the blog down. I think parents need to hear all of the principal’s updates, don’t you? How could you be giving out too much information? Also, why would she want to know who was going to view your blog and give you approval?

  • 66. STEM parent  |  September 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

    @62 If you give your e-mail address to Ms McManus, you should receive all her updates, it is that easy. You don’t need a blog for that.

  • 67. STEM parent  |  September 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Sorry, comment 65 was meant for @64 curious mom.

  • 68. Curious Mom  |  September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

    @66. I know that she sends out her updates, and I think that is fabulous. I don’t understand why she would need to approve someone’s blog, that’s all. I didn’t realize that it was a school page and not just 4MOM’s page.

  • 69. West Loop  |  September 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I believe each of the room moms are creating yahoo groups so that parents can communicate about relevant topics specific to each classroom (homework, projects, field trips, other).

  • 70. 4MOM  |  September 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

    @68 West Loop: Yes, they are, I do like the idea of the yahoo group, but a blog would be very useful as well wouldn’t mind to have a blog website, too.

  • 71. MamaK  |  October 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

    trying to add STEM on my online app and it is not listed. called the OAE, they said it was a glitch and they would call me back.

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the update!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 73. FormerStemFamily  |  March 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    We voted with our feet, and it was the best decision we ever made.

    STEM was terrible in so many ways that we were happy to go through the awful CPS application process again and take our chances. I will refrain from posting the abuse I have witnessed and endured at this school as it seems there are some overzealous commenters ready to discredit any negative postings.

    We fully embraced this school, its vision, and all of its policies. We meticulously followed all the rules and accepted harsh penalties without complaint. Despite this, we never experienced any success in the classroom or with the administration. If anything, our alacrity was met with suspicion and our child regarded as a nuisance.

    Life with STEM was incredibly stressful, provided little benefit, and brought active harm, both intellectual and physical. I am not the only one who feels this way; teachers and students have been leaving STEM in large numbers since its inception.

    Though some characterize these problems as growing pains, I am unwilling to sacrifice my family to participate in their fumbled experiment. The entire system is replete with failure, from the dismal curriculum to the misguided penal system. I don’t doubt that STEM can grow into a better school, but your angry, uneducated children will be the stepping stones to this glorious future.

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