Jacqueline Edelberg: How To Walk To School
December 29, 2009
To open the latest season of the What Works in Urban Education series, Tom Bloch and the University Academy present Jacqueline Edelberg and her book, How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance on Wednesday, January 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The book chronicles the incredible transformation of Chicago’s Louis Nettelhorst Elementary School from an underutilized and struggling neighborhood institution into a successful, vibrant pillar of the community on the strength of motivated parents (including Edelberg) and an entrepreneurial principal (co-author Susan Kurland).
Nettelhorst had been on the decline since the 1960s when families living in its Chicago North Side neighborhood fled to the suburbs. As the neighborhood rebounded, the school did not. Then eight energetic women meeting in a nearby park, frustrated that their soon-to-be-school-age children had so few options—either pricey private schools or excruciating competition for the few slots in public magnet schools—decided to take up the challenge of resurrecting a school plagued by declining enrollment and low achievement. Edelberg was part of that parent group; Kurland was the new principal, receptive to new ideas and active parents.
In this highly informative book, Edelberg and Kurland essentially lay out a model for reviving the neighborhood school. They detail the struggles, from tensions with some teachers, to a lack of cooperation with school bureaucracy, to charges by some parents that the school was being gentrified. The reformers knew they had to focus on the essentials: develop partnerships with local businesses and nonprofit organizations, improve academic performance, and improve the school’s image to attract more middle-class families. After all the joy and struggle, the group transformed the school into a high performer that has been acclaimed nationally for its achievement.
Admission to the presentation is free. Call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is located in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.