WBEZ | Academy for Urban School Leadership http://www.wbez.org/tags/academy-urban-school-leadership Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Role reversal: Kids train teachers at South Side school http://www.wbez.org/news/role-reversal-kids-train-teachers-south-side-school-108975 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Kaleb Depluzer.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Clutching an iPad, sixth grader Kaleb Depluzer looks up at a group of grown-ups and instructs them to grab a device from the middle of the table.</p><p>&ldquo;My name is Kaleb, and today I&rsquo;m going to be teaching you how to use Keynote,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Everybody press &lsquo;presentation.&rsquo; It&rsquo;s all the way at the top left.&rdquo;<br /><br />This is app speed dating at Depluzer&rsquo;s school, National Teachers Academy, and it&rsquo;s essentially student-led professional development.<br /><br />&ldquo;App speed dating is when teachers go around and view kids doing different types of apps so we can teach the teachers how to use it,&rdquo; Depluzer explained.<br />Today, it&rsquo;s not just teachers. Other adults are here as part of a Chicago Ideas Week event.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s much more dynamic to have the student sharing and hearing it from their voices. It&rsquo;s also a lot less threatening as a teacher to come in and hear from a 9-year-old how this app works. They&rsquo;re not talking down to you. They&rsquo;re nine,&rdquo; Jennie Magiera said.</p><p>Magiera is the digital learning coordinator at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, the organization that runs National Teachers Academy.</p><p>She says there are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to technology in the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got your non-believers who think that technology is just fluff, that it&rsquo;s distracting from the actual goal of the classroom, which is teaching and learning,&rdquo; Magiera said. &ldquo;Then there&rsquo;s the folks who believe it&rsquo;s worthwhile, but for many different reasons.&rdquo;<br /><br />Magiera is part of the latter group, and she&rsquo;s about as techie as they come. She runs a blog called Teaching like it&rsquo;s 2999 and stays connected to other technology teachers and coordinators around the country.<br /><br />The idea behind letting kids do the training is to get and keep them excited about school. Depluzer is a perfect example.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;Before I created the student innovation team, he was in my math class,&rdquo; Magiera said. That was two years ago, when she tells me Depluzer used to fake fevers to get out of school.<br /><br />Magiera, who frequently had her students try out different educational apps she found, asked Depluzer and a few other students to test an app called &ldquo;Explain Everything.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I came in on Monday morning and I thought it was going to blow all my students away,&rdquo; Magiera said. &ldquo;Kaleb uses it with his student peers and they hated it. They used a lot of very strong, fourth-grade appropriate language to say it was the worse app they&rsquo;ve ever seen.&rdquo;<br /><br />Depluzer and his friends wrote a blog post about it and within hours, the app developer emailed Magiera.<br /><br /><br />The developer, Reshan Richards, set up a Skype appointment with Depluzer and the other students to allow them to explain everything they thought was wrong with the app.<br /><br />&ldquo;(They were) brutally honest,&rdquo; Richards said. &ldquo;Brutally honest. It was just things like saying, I didn&rsquo;t like this. This doesn&rsquo;t work properly. I didn&rsquo;t understand why when I drew on the page and then moved the page the annotation didn&rsquo;t move with the page. Little things like that, but he was very, very clear I remember.&rdquo;<br /><br />After that &ndash; Magiera says Depluzer was a totally different student.</p><p>&ldquo;He was like, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to come to school every day. I want to be app developer. Oh my God I got to tell an adult what to do and they didn&rsquo;t yell at me, they listened to me,&rsquo;&rdquo; Magiera said.</p><p>Sitting at his station teaching the Keynote app to a rotating crop of adults last Thursday, Depluzer hardly seemed like the kind of kid who would play sick to stay home.<br /><br />He actually sounded a lot like a teacher.<br /><br />&ldquo;When you please leave, can you not exit out [of the app] because yesterday, I was deal with that and people, I had wasted time when people kept on exiting it out,&rdquo; Depluzer instructed.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 16:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/role-reversal-kids-train-teachers-south-side-school-108975 Did CPS let building go to pot before ‘turnaround’? http://www.wbez.org/story/did-cps-let-building-go-pot-%E2%80%98turnaround%E2%80%99-96618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-22/Herzl.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-22/Herzl.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 354px; height: 234px;" title="Theodore Herzl Elementary School opened 97 years ago in North Lawndale. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><p>The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on proposals to close or completely restaff 17 schools. That would make more than 100 the district has shut down or restaffed in the last decade. School officials say their approach gives students in poorly performing schools more options. But there&rsquo;s an old accusation that the district lets some school buildings go to pot until just before turning them over to private management groups. From our West Side bureau, we look at a school where parents and teachers are making that accusation.</p><p>MITCHELL: Lajuan Criswell&rsquo;s daughter is a first-grader at Herzl Elementary, a school in Chicago&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. Criswell&rsquo;s mom teaches there. And Criswell herself serves on the Local School Council and volunteers after school twice a week. She says the building gets too hot in the winter &mdash; some days as high as 80 or 90 degrees. And Criswell says there are other problems.</p><p>CRISWELL: We don&rsquo;t have air conditioning. The water fountains on some of the floors don&rsquo;t function either. Some outlets &mdash; that look like they have perhaps had electrical fires at one point &mdash; they have the scorch marks. Paint and plaster that was peeling off for the last few years. And something with the plumbing so that the first floor has paint peeling off some of the ceilings.</p><p>MITCHELL: And don&rsquo;t even get Criswell started on the building&rsquo;s asbestos and lead. She says the problems have gone on awhile. The district <em>is</em> starting to send in more repair crews.</p><p>CRISWELL: But only because a new company is coming in, not because they really care about the safety or health of my child or anybody else&rsquo;s child in that building.</p><p>MITCHELL: Because they&rsquo;re going to have a private company come in and run the school.</p><p>CRISWELL: Exactly. That&rsquo;s the driving force trying to fix it up.</p><p>MITCHELL: The private group will replace the entire staff. Chicago Public Schools calls that process a &ldquo;turnaround.&rdquo; Now, something Criswell doesn&rsquo;t mention is that the Local School Council she serves on will have no control at Herzl if this turnaround proceeds. So you could say she&rsquo;d have a motive to exaggerate about the building&rsquo;s conditions. But there are lots of critics of the turnaround model. And many say district management has unspoken motives, too. Some of Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s top CPS appointees came from AUSL, short for the Academy for Urban School Leadership. That&rsquo;s the private group that would run the Herzl turnaround. Those officials include Tim Cawley, the district&rsquo;s administrative chief. During a December call with reporters, Cawley acknowledged CPS avoids sinking money into buildings it might close within the next 10 years.</p><p>CAWLEY: We really believe the investment in the facility makes sense when it&rsquo;s partnered with a program change. So, in going into those schools without a doing a more comprehensive change &mdash; just painting the walls and putting new lighting in and creating a more positive interior when nothing else has changed at the school &mdash; doesn&rsquo;t get you the same return on the investment as it does when there&rsquo;s a fresh start.</p><p>MITCHELL: By fresh start, he means the turnaround. And, again, in that phone call Cawley said CPS considers closing schools as long as 10 years ahead of time. If that&rsquo;s the case, kindergarteners at some poor-performing schools might never see major building improvements before leaving for high school. So where has this approach left Herzl Elementary, a school on academic probation for years? I decided to check out the building myself. Last week I asked for a quick tour in a message to the school&rsquo;s principal. Her name&rsquo;s Teresa Anderson. I didn&rsquo;t hear back, so I called again. And again. Tuesday, I went over to Herzl without an appointment.</p><p>MITCHELL: I&rsquo;ve been calling since Thursday. She hasn&rsquo;t been returning my calls. Taxpayers pay for this building. We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about the conditions here and we want to see them.</p><p>STAFFER: She&rsquo;s not available to speak right now.</p><p>MITCHELL: Is that her right there?</p><p>STAFFER: (Indecipherable).</p><p>MITCHELL: She was off the phone looking right at me just a minute ago. She can&rsquo;t step out here to speak with me for five minutes?</p><p>STAFFER: No, she&rsquo;s on a conference call right now.</p><p>MITCHELL: OK, I&rsquo;ll wait until the end of her call.</p><p>STAFFER: OK.</p><p>MITCHELL: Principal Anderson eventually came out but said I could not look around the building and asked me to leave. The CPS central office backed her up. The district says Herzl building upgrades this summer will total about $9 million. If the school board approves the turnaround Wednesday, those improvements will be just in time for the arrival of private management.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton contributed audio to this story.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/did-cps-let-building-go-pot-%E2%80%98turnaround%E2%80%99-96618 New CPS leadership likes its schools run by outside group http://www.wbez.org/content/new-cps-leadership-likes-its-schools-run-outside-group <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-11/IMG_1061 web.jpg.crop_display.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-11/Jean-Claude Brizard_WBEZ_Linda Lutton.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 375px; margin: 5px;" title="CEO Jean-Claude Brizard hadn't heard of AUSL before coming to Chicago, but says AUSL school visits have wowed him. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)"></p><p>A homegrown non-profit is pushing its way onto center stage in Chicago’s education scene. The Academy for Urban School Leadership thinks it knows how to run strong urban schools. And, pointing to the latest test scores, the school district agrees.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools' strategy recently for fixing its lowest performing schools has been to fire everyone — from the principal to the teachers to the lunch ladies. Then, give the whole school over to someone else to run.</p><p>And the group taking those schools over—the Academy for Urban School Leadership, or AUSL—just posted test score gains more than double the gains in the rest of the district.</p><p>ambi: clapping</p><p>BRIZARD: 26 points?! My God--from 49 to 75 percent! No one can argue that.</p><p>Last week, in an empty classroom on the West Side, schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard asked AUSL principals and teachers for their secrets.</p><p>They described on-the-job coaching. Teachers walking through neighborhoods to reach out to families. And AUSL’s “training academies”—public schools where new teachers are put through one-year residencies, like what medical students go through before becoming doctors.</p><p>Former computer programmer Mauricia Dantes teaches third grade at an AUSL-run school surrounded by vacant lots and board-ups.&nbsp; Before she got her own classroom, Dantes worked under a master teacher in another AUSL school.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-11/CPS teacher_WBEZ_Linda Lutton.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 340px; margin: 5px;" title="Mauricia Dantes says a year in an AUSL teacher training academy helped make her an effective teacher. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)"></p><p>DANTES: For a whole year—hands on. Observing her, practicing things that she said I needed to learn. She would coach me, then being evaluated. And that’s every day. So, it was systematic, it was methodical—and there were things that I was doing every single day to complete the big picture of being a teacher. And it was effective, ‘cause I really feel like I know what I’m doing.</p><p>ambi: Criss-cross, applesauce, hands in your lap. Hey! Good job.</p><p>I first met Dantes last winter. Her students sat on a classroom rug—totally engaged—as Dantes showed them necklaces she’d made for them. Hanging from each string was a thick bunch of words on laminated cards. Each child’s was unique.</p><p>DANTES: Every moment—when you’re standing in lunch and you’re waiting for your turn to get your tray—guess what you’ll be doing? [Studying!] Studying the words that you struggled with. So that means you won’t be wasting any time with your brain off.</p><p>Dantes and her colleagues are CPS employees—union teachers. But they and principals told Brizard the teacher residency is key to AUSL’s success. Principals see it as a steady pipeline of teachers, all pre-screened and then prepared in the same way.</p><p>HENRY: Every single person being on one drumbeat is key.</p><p>AUSL principal Alice Henry told Brizard that getting a critical mass of like-minded teachers allows AUSL to create its hallmark culture.</p><p>HENRY: If you come back tomorrow unannounced you’ll see the same thing. It’s going to be clean, it’s going to smell good, it’s going to be excellent. The teachers are going to be friendly and smiling and greeting people at the door—every single day.</p><p>AUSL is a well-endowed, politically connected group. It was started by venture capitalist and philanthropist Martin Koldyke; he also founded the Golden Apple award for teachers.</p><p>AUSL has become a favorite of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s. The chairman of AUSL’s board is now president of the Chicago Board of Education. CPS’s new Chief Operating Officer also comes from AUSL.</p><p>Donald Feinstein is the group’s director:</p><p>FEINSTEIN: We run good schools. When it’s all said and done, we manage good schools, it’s a good place for children to be. And hopefully there will be communities who would say, ‘I’d like them to come manage and help our school get better.’</p><p>Across the country, districts are increasingly contracting out the work of running their schools. AUSL now manages 19 CPS schools.&nbsp; That’s been controversial, but Brizard says he's been wowed by visits to AUSL schools.</p><p>BRIZARD: I’m a big believer in great schools—I don’t really care who actually creates them.</p><p>Chicago paid AUSL $4.5 million last year to run schools, and that will increase. In the next two years, Emanuel wants to double the number of teacher training schools AUSL runs.</p><p>Meanwhile, AUSL is planning its first foray outside the city. It’s in negotiations now to begin work in suburban North Chicago High School.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/new-cps-leadership-likes-its-schools-run-outside-group Turnaround school gets turned around again http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/Sims.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama and congressional leaders may be trying to cut the federal budget, but they’ve agreed to pour more than a half-billion dollars of new funds into Race to the Top, the president’s signature education program. It aims to turn around low-performing schools by taking steps like bringing in an outside group to replace the staff and run the school. Education Secretary Arne Duncan helped pioneer that model as Chicago schools chief. The city now has 12 turnaround schools. But their record is mixed and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not said where he stands on them yet. A school near Chicago’s Garfield Park shows that the turnaround strategy is anything but a panacea.</p><p>MITCHELL: When classes change at Orr Academy High School, Tyese Sims drops everything and joins a dozen security guards patrolling the halls. She’s the new principal. And she keeps an eye on all three floors.</p><p>SIMS: I run up these stairs every day, all day.</p><p>MITCHELL: I bet you’re in pretty good shape.</p><p>SIMS: I guess!</p><p>SIMS (to students): Excuse me. What are we doing? Keep it moving.</p><p>MITCHELL: Almost every student in sight is wearing a school-issued polo shirt, either black or gold.</p><p>SIMS: Come on. Hurry up. 30 seconds.</p><p>MITCHELL: By the time the tardy bell rings, the halls are empty again.</p><p>SIMS: You don’t hear loud noises coming out of the rooms. It’s quiet. It’s calm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Orr Academy is undergoing its second turnaround in three years. In 2008, Chicago officials consolidated three small high schools that had occupied the building. To run the new Orr, the district contracted a nonprofit group called AUSL. That’s short for Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL brought in new teachers and staffers and a new principal. But student test scores after the first turnaround remained dismal. And Sims says there were other problems.<br> <br> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script></p><div id="tableau_hide_this" style="width: 654px; height: 634px;">&nbsp;</div><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="654" height="634"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object><noscript>Dashboard 1 <br /><a href="#"><img alt="Dashboard 1 " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;PS&#47;PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors&#47;Dashboard1&#47;1_rss.png" height="100%" /></a></noscript><div style="width: 654px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;"><a href="http://www.tableausoftware.com/public?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1" target="_blank">Powered by Tableau</a></div></div><p>SIMS: When I came before — profane language, being disrespectful to peers, being disrespectful to other adults — I did see it. It was just something I wanted to change.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now AUSL has changed Orr’s principal again. The group brought in Sims in the middle of the semester. During her first month, the school gave students 310 out-of-school suspensions. A handful resulted from behavior the district calls “very serious” — things like assault, alcohol use and vandalism. Most suspensions concerned infractions like tardiness, disobedience and disruption. Sims says she also dropped almost three dozen students for poor attendance.</p><p>SIMS: If we’re really preparing them for the real world, there’s no way we can keep a job and, with missing this number of days and being tardy, they’ll think, ‘Wow, my high school didn’t prepare me. This was acceptable there, but now I’m in the real world and it’s not like that.’</p><p>LANG: When you’re first starting something new and you’re changing, people have to take it seriously.</p><p>MITCHELL: AUSL’s Debbra Lang oversees Orr and two other high schools the group runs for the Chicago district. Lang says AUSL is applying what’s called the broken-windows theory. It’s a way some police try to keep the peace by focusing on low-level offenses like vandalism. Lang says the approach works for schools, too.</p><p>LANG: The precursor to fighting is often a slew of curse words. And so we would much rather intervene — deal with the cursing — rather than having it lead to fighting. What we’re really encouraging is an environment where learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not everyone is happy about that encouragement. 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett got so many calls about Orr Academy’s latest turnaround that he held a community forum with Principal Sims. She got mixed reactions there from parents...</p><p>MOTHER: Two-day suspension for ‘damn’ — for the words — I think that that’s a little harsh.</p><p>GRANDMOTHER: I like your approach to what you’re doing at the school with the children. They need to have some respect.</p><p>FATHER: My son comes home suspended two days. Where was that phone call to the parents?</p><p>MITCHELL: ...and from teachers and counselors.</p><p>TEACHER: The history at Orr has been inconsistency. You take your kids to Whitney Young, they know on Day 1, ‘I can’t curse in class.’ This year, we’re getting that message half-way into the third semester. That’s where you’re going to get push-back from students.</p><p>COUNSELOR: I’ve never seen Orr any better than it is now. You can walk in that school — I would ask anybody to walk in that school and just walk around.</p><p>MITCHELL: The alderman’s forum also turned out young people. An Orr Academy senior stood up and said she’d like a turnaround of some school staff attitudes.</p><p>STUDENT: Students curse out adults. Adults curse out students. The students are the only group of people being addressed for that.</p><p>MITCHELL: A community organizer spoke up for students who end up on the street.</p><p>ORGANIZER: This is not the first time where we had phone calls from parents, saying, ‘I feel like my kid is getting pushed out.’</p><p>MITCHELL: But Alderman Burnett urged everyone to give the school’s new leaders a chance.</p><p>BURNETT: We just lost a principal at Orr because they didn’t think he was doing well enough. So these principals, just like everyone else, have a duty to do things in order to keep their jobs too.</p><p>JENNINGS: This is a daunting task.</p><p>MITCHELL: Jack Jennings of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy says there’s not much evidence yet that the turnaround model works.</p><p>JENNINGS: These schools serve very poor students who bring the problems of poverty into the school — namely one-parent homes, sometimes parents being on drugs. These schools generally are in dangerous neighborhoods. Sometimes there’s a lack of security in the building itself. These schools have teachers that are frequently discouraged because they’ve tried to improve for years and they’re not being given adequate help. And a number schools do everything right and they still don’t succeed in turning around. And some schools that have become better, if they don’t receive assistance over a couple more years, will slide back and wind up in the same type of trouble [that they were in] before.</p><p>MITCHELL: Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s team didn’t respond when we asked whether he’d try to turn around more schools. This week he did announce that two AUSL officials would fill top city education posts. The turnaround approach isn’t the only vision for improving the nation’s worst schools. In Chicago, the teachers union suggests more social services for students and decent jobs for parents. Those remedies could be expensive, though. At Orr Academy, Principal Sims insists that simpler steps can go a long way.</p><p>SIMS: It’s just structures in place so we can have a safe, orderly environment for our students so learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Simpler steps like getting kids to class on time.</p><p>SIMS: Let’s go baby. Come on, let’s hustle.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 New program connects recent college graduates with younger students to offer guidance http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-04/new-program-connects-recent-college-graduates-younger-students-offer-gui <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-04/PIC 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>College graduation is just around the corner. For some that’s the moment when pent up hopes for a career run into the realities of actually finding a job. For one recent local graduate the process has been different. It inspired a whole different career path - one she’s pursuing with gusto.<br> <br> For WBEZ, Erica Hunter reports on a mentoring program in Chicago.<br> <br> All through her time at Northwestern University, Angie Rankin had her sights set on a career in the corporate world.<br> <br> She never thought her days would start like this.<br> <br> Rankin’s outside Orr Academy in West Garfield Park jumping and cheering with 10 other 20-somethings.<br> <br> They’re dressed in khaki pants, polo shirts and matching red jackets.<br> <br> They’re trying to pump up these sleepy-looking high school students as they straggle inside.<br> <br> And it’s serious work.<br> <br> Rankin is one of 11 <a href="http://www.cityyear.org/chicago.aspx" target="_blank">City Year mentors</a>—trained and assigned here as role models for students and as helpers in classrooms.<br> <br> “I’ve been put in a lot of situations where I’ve had fights in class, I’ve had people walking around or cussing the teacher and challenging the teacher,” said Rankin.</p><p>Orr is a Chicago Public high school run by AUSL, the Academy for Urban School Leadership.&nbsp; Most reading and math test scores here fall below the state’s goal and only about half of the freshmen are on track to graduate.<br> <br> Rankin spends her days helping out in English, history and science classrooms, getting students caught up on missing work, monitoring the halls between classes, and talking with students during lunch and sometimes after school.<br> <br> She got here by a crooked route.<br> <br> During her senior year, Rankin applied for a corporate job that included a stint with a teacher-training program.<br> <br> As she prepared the application, she found herself much more excited about the teaching part than the business part.<br> <br> Rankin didn’t get that job but she paid attention when she heard something called City Year was coming to recruit on her campus.<br> <br> “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, and my dad is one of those people who are like these kids.” Rankin said. “It took someone taking an interest in him and actually caring, genuinely caring, about what he’s doing with his life as a teenager to change it around. This whole idea of being in City Year, for me, is paying it forward.”<br> <br> City Year is an international non-profit with 20 sites across the U.S. and two overseas. It places young adults in schools for one year, 45 hours a week. They earn just a little over minimum wage.<br> <br> Chicago has 125 City Year Corp members –in 13 Chicago Public Schools. Six are high schools.<br> <br> Lisa Morrison Butler is director of City Year Chicago.<br> <br> “Where maybe, there’s anywhere between 26 to 33 children in the classroom, a City Year Corp member is able to cut the adult to student ratio in half,” said Butler. “We’ve really focused our efforts, the last couple of years, on certain neighborhoods, that we think, are really grossly underserved, and so right now we are in North Lawndale, Austin, Englewood, and West Garfield Park, and in those neighborhoods, we tend to go into the toughest schools.”<br> <br> In West Garfield, Orr Academy has a new principal.&nbsp;Tyese Sims has only been at Orr a few weeks, but she says she’s talking to coaches about adding City Year mentors to work with athletes who are having trouble in class.<br> <br> A City Year mentor’s main job is in the classroom focusing on what they call the ABC’s—attendance, behavior and course performance.<br> <br> Social science teacher Judith Montes says City Year mentors helped her set routines and expectations for her freshman class.<br> <br> “It’s crucial with freshmen to set up how high school should be, and just those students who might fall down the cracks because they need that extra attention.&nbsp; If I have my hands busy then I know that my City Year person has me on the other side of the room helping maybe clarify some of the directions that I gave in class or giving extra help if the student doesn’t understand,” she says.<br> <br> But the mentor’s job often spills over.<br> <br> Rankin recalls the day she noticed a student come in with a large band-aid on her face.<br> <br> Rankin says it took her an entire class period to get the student to open up. She said her mother had hit her.<br> <br> Rankin talked with the student about her home and school life, and got advice from a teacher to help the girl resolve problems with her parent.<br> <br> Rankin says she always keeps an eye out for that girl and other students.<br> <br> Like Tywan, who, she says, is a pretty good student who’s usually at school.<br> <br> But today, he’s absent.<br> <br> Rankin says it’s these moments that make her know she’s in the right place.<br> <br> “I don’t care if I make a lot of money, to me that doesn’t matter, but if I know that 20 years down the line this kid is going to remember oh I had this one City Year girl, he might not even remember my name but, if he remembers how I made him feel and how what I did in his life has helped him change, him or her, then I feel good about it. I feel like I’ve done my job.” Rankin said.<br> <br> Rankin recently applied to become a teacher trainee through a program with the Academy for Urban School Leadership.<br> <br> She’ll find out before the end of the school year if she’s been accepted.</p><p><em>Music Button: Kabanjak, "Rubicon", from the CD Tree Of Mystery, (ESL)</em></p></p> Mon, 04 Apr 2011 14:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-04/new-program-connects-recent-college-graduates-younger-students-offer-gui