Good list

09/01/2010 10:00 PM

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I am a resident of the University Village (I live on Fillmore) and I teach at Smyth Magnet School. I was particularly saddened (as were about 1,500 other staff, students, and parents) to read your article about Smyth “not being good enough” for families in our community. I feel compelled to inform you, and the residents in my community, that in the last few years, Smyth Magnet School has:

  • Accepted transfers from five area schools that have closed
  • Continued to flourish despite accepting transfers
  • Hired a new staff, many with two masters degrees and some with PhDs
  • Doubled its scores on state exams in reading, math and science from 19% - 54%
  • Increased its enrollment
  • Created, for the first time in the city, a prestigious school-wide International Baccalaureate program (which, contrary to the other comment, I work on every day with my students)
  • Mandatory Mandarin instruction which exposes our students to other cultures and languages
  • Created superior extracurricular programs (boys and girls basketball, cheerleading, football, pom-poms, volleyball, and wrestling)
  • Won the city-wide championship in basketball
  • Won the city-wide championship in cheerleading
  • Won the city-wide championship in wrestling (five of our boys)
  • Had an eighth grader who won the area math contest and represented the area in the city wide competition
  • Substantially reduced discipline problems and implemented positive behavioral reinforcements
  • Been on the evening news on many occasions (e.g., Apolo Ohno recently visited our school, as well as Bernard Harris, the first African-American astronaut)
  • Remodeled and painted our immaculate building (where flags from all over the world hang in the hallways and numerous clocks show the time in many countries from around the world)
  • An excellent school band
  • Partnerships with the Field Museum, Chicago Botanical Garden, Jewel Food Store, Book Angels, Green Screen Adventures, WNBA, Toyota, Bill Pickney, Save the Music, Catholic Charities, St. Ignatius, Sweet Maple, Marcy Newberry Center, Fosco Park District, and Roosevelt Branch Library
  • University partnerships with the University of Illinois, National Lewis, North Park, Roosevelt and Northwestern
  • Many student clubs ( an aquarium, science, art, book, gardening, photography, reptile, and technology club)
  • A Striving Lions Arts Club and Student Council
  • Administrators and staff constantly striving to improve teaching and learning

I implore all parents in our community to visit our school, meet with our staff, and talk to the students. Perhaps during your visit, you will truly understand the complexities of all the wonderful things happening at our neighborhood school.

Laura Blackwell
University Village

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By Laura Blackwell from UV
Posted: 09/02/2010 1:31 PM

Thank you, David.

By David Askew from Near West
Posted: 09/02/2010 11:40 AM

Well done Laura. I have visited Smyth (at the suggestion of someone affiliated with the University Village Association) and I walked away impressed. I then spoke to some connections at UIC regarding the school to provide more assistance. You and the rest of the staff are doing an awesome job and keep at it. Regardless of what happens, your work is noble and your results are uncontroverted.