Re-Invigorating a Neighborhood School – Hyde Park
I got an email from a parent who is working with a new Friends Of group that is trying to encourage local parents to consider Shoesmith Elementary in Hyde Park.
I know that many of us here often tell people to “consider your neighborhood school!” as an elementary option. I know first hand that “marketing” a school that hasn’t had a great reputation is a lot of work. An insane amount of work. (and by first hand I mean I saw others really busting their butts and I helped out when I could.)
After about 5 years, I STILL have not seen a school replicate what Nettelhorst did with the PR and the impressive grants and donations and art, etc. Other schools have done an impressive job at raising money. Alcott in Lincoln Park asks for around $1200 per year from parents. Other hold amazing auctions. Other get grants. But the donations from outside the school family community at Nettelhorst have always impressed me. If anyone knows how they did it (beyond what the book says, feel free to share.)
Obvious one of the key elements was “marketing” the school – finding out what parents wanted in a school and also “selling” the place and damn, if they didn’t knock that one out of the park. Chicago parents are a bit on the Sheeple side when it comes it schools. Nobody wants to be the first to test out a school, but once it’s been given the Gentrified Seal of Approval, suddenly the flocks hit. And it can be frustrating trying to get that first group mobilized. Again, this was key at Nettelhorst as well as my neighborhood school. A group of maybe 8 families finally said “we’re gonna do it.”
I’m not complaining, I’m just commenting on the patterns of enrollment I’ve seen where a school goes from under enrolled to jam-packed within about 4 years.
If you have any other schools with new Friends Of groups, feel free to post information here. Or if you have any thoughts on what was worked (or not) in trying to build attendance at a local schools, please share…..
I wanted to send you a flyer for our neighborhood school, Shoesmith Elementary. I recently joined a group called Friends of Shoesmith and we are making efforts to reform and revitalize this neighborhood school in hopes of making it a viable option for folks in Hyde Park (sort of inspired by the “How to Walk to School” Jaquiline Edelberg movement).
The school has a new principal and new administration and has decent test scores that have vastly improved in the past decade. The situation looks hopeful.
The Open House is this Tuesday, November 29th, from 9:00 – 10:30.
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