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When two gutsy moms ventured inside Nettelhorst, their neighborhood's underutilized and struggling public elementary school, the new principal asked what it would take for them to enroll their children. Stunned by her candor, they returned the next day armed with an extensive wish list. The principal read their list and said "Well, let's get started, girls! It's going to be a busy year . . . "
How to Walk to School is the story—from the highs to the lows—of motivated neighborhood parents galvanizing and then organizing an entire community to take a leap of faith, transforming a challenged urban school into one of Chicago's best, virtually overnight.
The fate of public education is not beyond our control. In How to Walk to School, Susan Kurland, Nettelhorst's new and entrepreneurial principal, and Jacqueline Edelberg, the neighborhood mom, provide an accessible and honest blueprint for reclaiming the great public schools our children deserve.
Check out www.howtowalktoschool.com for more information.
In my capacity as an education professor, I supervise student internships at many schools around the Chicago metropolitan area. None of the schools I visit look or feel like Nettelhorst. None of the schools have parents who are so active and are so welcomed by the administration. None of the schools have that same sense of community. In this day and age of school choice and increased adversarial relations, we need to emulate the Nettelhorst model. We need collaboration. We need cooperation. We need community. Nettelhorst has really figured it out.
All the research and anecdotal evidence shows how community schools have benefited children and adults in communities all over Illinois and across the nation. Students thrive when the parents and community members take ownership for the success of the school. Today's students are tomorrow's wage earners, taxpayers, citizens and community members. Nettelhorst is proof positive that the community school model can provide a comprehensive and dynamic learning opportunity.
The critical time to act is now - we cannot wait any longer to meet children's needs and improve their chances of success in adulthood.
I stand in awe of what this school community has accomplished.
Foreword by Arne Duncan
Chapter 1: Dream a Future: Identify Opportunities
Chapter 2: Chemistry: Capitalize on Desire
Chapter 3: Support Systems: Contract Services
Chapter 4: Academics: Raise the Bar
Chapter 5: Sell the Dream: Rebrand and Reposition
Chapter 6: Fundraising: Look Beyond a Climate of Care
Chapter 7: The Nettelhorst Blueprint
Afterword by Rahm Emanuel
Appendix A: Toolkit: How to Set-up a 501(c)(3)
Appendix B: How to Learn More
About the Authors
A Call to Action
Posted August 28, 2009
In Jacqueline Edelberg and Susan Kurland's book, How to Walk to School, they detail their experience in taking a neighborhood school with declining enrollment and abysmal test scores and attempt to turn it around. With their vision, they begin a renaissance of a school that has been in existence for decades. In doing so, the neighborhood has grown to reap the benefits of this rebirth.
The school buzzes with excitement on Saturdays when the seasonal market is
open, and people are interested in buying real estate in the area, so they may someday send their children to this school.
An inspirational story of how you can implement change. The perseverance and dedication of the key members of this community and their desire to see their dream come true make a truly inspirational tale.
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Posted November 12, 2009
I loved the honesty of this book. Neighborhood school and memories of past positive things is what we crave for. This book shows the hard work and determination of a principal with parents and neighbors who made a difference. They were all lucky to have each other as vested interested members of this group that was determined to succeed.
To create an environmet that we want for our children is a daily issue. It changes as our children grow nad the same is true for this school. The issues changed and grew.
My hat is off to all of them for doing it right.
Posted August 21, 2009
Parents in a ritzy neighborhood decide to send their kids to the local public school. Since the rich kids take the place of poor kids formerly bused in, test scores rise, along socioeconomic status. The principal, who really ain't so hot, congratulates herself by writing, or getting a ghost to write, a book. Nobody reads the book.
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