Northside Community Education Update

Photo courtesy of http://www.cr-architects.com/

The Education Committee of the Northside Community Council meets monthly throughout the year with the mission of promoting, designing, and implementing educational programs that serve the needs of Northside schools and students as well as keeping Northside residents informed about and building community support for our three schools.

Following a year of community-wide conversations, a Northside Learns steering committee was formed in the Spring of 2015 to develop the concept of a neighborhood community learning center, one that would include all schools and maximize resource availability. Two Xavier University interns assisted us last summer by creating a resource manual with a demographic analysis of our neighborhood as well as a master list of individuals and organizations willing to assist our schools with goods and services. Copies of the resource manuals have been provided to the schools.

Coming out of this experience, Parker Woods Montessori’s Local School Decision Making Committee (LSDMC) secured Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) funding and was able to hire its first Resource Coordinator, Tim Nared. With the assistance of Libby Hunter of WordPLay, funding was also identified for St. Boniface School to add Northside resident and parent, Jen Jackson, to its staff as a Resource Coordinator. Nared and Jackson join Ashanti Dawson, Resource Coordinator at Chase Elementary, working to create better environments for all Northside children. In November, Northside Learns had the privilege of giving a presentation on the Northside Learns initiative to a quarterly meeting of all CPS LSDMCs.

Last Fall, Chase Elementary approached the Education Committee for assistance in providing basic necessities like underwear and socks for its children. A clothing and fund drive led to donations of winter clothing and monetary donations of $850. Special thanks go to the residents of Hammond North for their generous assistance. Members of Northside Learns and the Education Committee are currently exploring creation of a technology platform that would allow teachers to post classroom needs out to the community and secure donations. Once the system is up and working, we will be looking for a volunteer administrator – possibly a student needing service hours – to help with maintenance.

On Jan. 14, the Education Committee helped arrange a CPS dialogue session at Chase Elementary. The session focused on how CPS can make neighborhood schools look more like the neighborhoods and the magnet schools look like the District itself. CPS Board member Eve Bolton provided background on current CPS initiatives designed to ensure equitable access and resourcing for all CPS schools. CPS plans to hold similar dialogues in other neighborhoods in advance of presentation of a report to the Board. Forty to fifty parents, teachers and community members were in attendance. Some initial takeaways for this writer were these current strengths of Chase: A tremendous group of caring teachers, a long time committed faculty, the feeling of and commitment to community with families sending multiple children to the school.

Attendees told Bolton what they wanted to see at Chase were foreign language offerings, college prep classes, a school garden, science labs, training in entrepreneurship, skills training such as woodworking, and more sports. Issues and concerns raised included the lack of parental involvement and poverty in the neighborhood affecting children. Another concern was, due to lack of resources, the school was forced to choose between having a library or a computer lab. Bolton told the audience the currentBoard was committed to equitable distribution of resources and encouraged lobbying for needed resources. She also invited the community to a CPS Board meeting to hear the final report coming out of these neighborhood dialogues. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the District offices’ Auditorium at the Education Center, 2651 Burnet Ave., Corryville.

 

Written by Sue Wilke
Northside Community Council Education Committee Chair

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