How are you feeling about going back to school?
>> Ellyn Miller, Dean of Specialized Services, Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy:
I’m super excited to be back in person, just to see faces and families and students every single day. I’m also feeling a little bit anxious. Ya know, we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and with that just comes a lot of newness and transition. But overall, I feel so much joy knowing that we’ll be back together as a family.
>> Brandon Hogan, Paraprofessional & 11th-Grade Adviser, DRW College Prep:
I’m super excited to see the kids and ya know, have them come back to the building and be around the staff and be around the teachers and all this love.
>> Ashley Mathews, College Counselor & Summer of a Lifetime Coordinator, ITW David Speer Academy:
I’m excited! I’m excited for all these new changes, these new adjustments. I’m ready to come back, I’m ready to actually have conversations with the people in person. Really excited to start off this new year after having been home for a whole year and minimal human contact. I’m just ready to come back and get started.
What are you excited about for this school year?
>> Sushmitha Ram, Learning Specialist, DRW College Prep:
One of the biggest things that I’m really excited about as well is the community organizing class where you can really get know like what are some things that you really wanna see within your neighborhood, what are some things that you wanna learn about your neighborhood as well as how are you a changemaker within the world that you see and experience?
This year, along with the benefits of being able to socialize together, get to know each other face-to-face. One, getting to know our sophomores and our juniors better. Who, sophomores, we’ve never even seen in person; juniors, we only knew half the year; and then our new freshmen. Just to really get to know students in a different way as well as our staff and our team.
Another really exciting thing about Rowe-Clark is that we’re building in a lot of opportunities outside of the classic academic classes so that students can move towards their goals. So for example, this year at Rowe-Clark, we have a barbering class where students can become licensed barbers at the end of it, if they do a total of three years. We have dual enrollment, so partnerships with Harold Washington for students to get college credit while they’re in high school. And a lot of other opportunities and curriculum like that so students can really pursue their interests and pursue side hustles and things that they wanna do.
I’m also excited to bring a drum line to the school. It’s a music element that’s something we haven’t had here in awhile at DRW, so that’s something I’m really excited to bring to the students this year.
This whole new idea of Noble changing itself because I am alum. I am the founding class from Pritzker so I dealt with all the rules and ya know, the SCC and then having to be a teacher and dealing with the SCC. I’m excited for these new changes and what’s next to come, to be honest.
What advice do you have for students?
The advice that I would definitely give both myself but also just to each of us in this learning journey is really trust your inner teacher. This is a quote that we got from our new Dean of Culture, Justin Walker, and just know that you have a lot of guides here, you have a lot of support here. And most of you all, you within yourself, you are enough, and you have so much knowledge and experiences that will help you through this.
One of the biggest things is to reach out. Some of you might feel kind of anxious about being around so many people, or anxious about what it’s gonna feel like or be like. Some people might have gone through a lot of really difficult things this last year and a half. Those are all realities that we’re living with as we come back together. So one of the biggest pieces of advice I have for everybody, including students, is to make sure you’re asking for help and you’re reaching out when you need it.
Be open-minded. Extend grace cause we’re all coming back to a new school year, changes are being made. Just ask questions, be vocal, cause some kids don’t do that. And I guess coming from a pandemic, they’re probably unsure what to expect. So just come back to school with an open mind, be ready. And I think that’s it.
My advice for students would be to just be comfortable and know that this is gonna be a safe space. And you are not gonna do this alone. We are here together. We are going through this together. And we are going to make this work: to make it safe, to make it healthy, and to make it positive and a great learning experience for everyone. So my advice would definitely be to come into this space and know that you are not in this alone. And you can make anything possible if you advocate for yourself and understand that everything that you need is here.