Month: August 2016

Former Panther Standout Jamaal Payton Savoring Chance to Shine

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Jamaal Payton during a recent practice for the NIU Huskies. | Photo by niuhuskies.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Former Proviso West standout Jamaal Payton is savoring the opportunity to prove himself this Saturday, when he’ll start at middle linebacker for the Northern Illinois University Huskies in their season opener against Wyoming, according to DeKalb’s Daily Chronicle.

Payton, a senior, had been a reserve for the last three seasons, playing behind a decorated veteran. Before his scheduled start on Saturday, Patyon, the Chronicle notes, had started three other times at NIU.

Now, this season is all about him.

“It feels great, man. A long time coming,” Payton, who graduated from West in 2013, told the Chronicle.

“It’s something I’ve been prepared for and something that I’ve been mentally preparing myself for throughout the years.”

Payton told the paper that the process of getting to starting linebacker was hard, but within the struggle was wrapped a life lesson.

“think it taught me a lot of things about my character and how to deal with myself and things that will prepare me for life,” he said.

To read the full Chronicle article on Payton, click here. And now, a local high school football briefing:

Provisos East and West lose home openers

The Proviso East football team lost its home opener against visiting Maine West 14-0 last Saturday. The Daily Herald reports that the visitors won the game on defense:

“I think we can do some great things with this team this year,” said Warriors defensive end Malik Siem. “We need to keep our focus. We won today because we did our job on defense. My job today was to fend off the offensive tackle and keep the running backs pinned inside.”

You can read recaps of that game here and here.

Last Friday, the Proviso West football team lost its home opener against Lincoln-Way West 30-8, in a game that Herald-News writer Tim Cronin described as sloppily played on the part of the visiting team. Read Cronin’s recap of that game here. VFP

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Melrose Parker Makes Ballot in Run for U.S. Senate

Kent McMillen.jpgWednesday, August 31, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Melrose Park resident Kenton McMillen will be on the ballot on Nov. 8 as one of four candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently held by incumbent Mark Kirk (R), according to an Aug. 29 report by the Chicago Tribune’s Morning Spin.

In addition to Kirk, McMillen — a Libertarian — will be up against Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and Green Party candidate Scott Summers.

McMillen, a 55-year-old paralegal and father of two adult children, works for the Chicago law firm Vedder Price.

According to Ballotpedia, he has a B.A. in journalism from Northern Illinois University and a paralegal certificate from Roosevelt University. Ballotpedia published the following campaign statement from McMillen:

“The country is going in the wrong direction. Endless wars, deficit spending, increased regulation, massive federal government. I believe the voters need a choice which will advocate a change in this direction, bring the troops home, put more money in your pocket and allow you and your family to prosper, be free and be happy”

According to his campaign website, McMillen has been active with the Liberterian Party for 20 years and “believes in the value of every person and how everyone should be free to pursue their own happiness. That freedom to innovate creates new technologies and industries, raising everyone’s standard of living.”

On Friday, McMillen recently tweeted, he’ll be at the Taste of Melrose Park for anyone who wants to talk with him. VFP

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D209 Approves New PMSA Entrance Guidelines

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak 

To alleviate the headaches involved in applying to the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA), the District 209 Board of Education presented a plan for new admission and entrance guidelines for applicants to PMSA beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year.

Earlier this summer, the board created a PMSA Admission Advisory Committee, consisting of board members, parents, community stakeholders and district administrators to examine the entire process — everything from what exam is administered to how and when the school would alert parents about the status of their child’s application.

Board member Claudia Medina was one of the members of the committee who said, based on negative community feedback about PMSA’s application process, that the formation of new guidelines was necessary.

“What we tried to do was open the conversation of the challenges that students and families in the district have had with the entrance exam for PMSA,” Medina said. “We were trying to see and revise the criteria use for entrance exams.”

For the past few years, PMSA was using the Explore exam to test prospective students and incorporate student scores as a large percentage of their admission ranking. But the Explore exam was created to test how ninth-graders nationwide would perform on the ACT, and the ACT exam was scrapped this spring by the state in favor of the SAT exam for high school juniors. Therefore, the committee felt using an outdated exam would not be a good measure for predicting academic performance among future students.

Medina said PMSA Principal Bessie Karvelas chose the PSAT as the new entrance exam for prospective students to better reflect a true measure of academic performance aligned with the new state-mandated SAT.

Another change the committee made was updating the timeline for the district to alert parents about whether their children had been selected for admission into PMSA.

Previously, the district found many parents had issues with turnaround times between when they were hearing from PMSA and when they had to make alternative high school entrance decisions, including having their children attend either Proviso East or West, attend a private school or even move out of the district if none of those options were desirable.

Medina said many parents became angry when they did not receive a decision from PMSA in a timely enough manner. In order to avoid waiting until the last minute to decide where their children were going, many would move out of district before hearing from PMSA or spend hundreds of dollars on applications and deposits for private schools, money and decisions that could not be changed or refunded.

“People had to put these expensive deposits down and gamble whether or not they would actually be entering PMSA,” Medina said. “We changed the date so that it coincides prior to being required to pay deposits for private schools. That saves parents money.

“We worked to find a better formula to communicate, execute and improve the way in which PMSA entrance examinations were handled,” she added.

Board member Ned Wagner agreed with Medina that the time was right to establish better, more consistent guidelines for PMSA entrance.

“What had been happening over the last few years was the criteria was sort of different than the year before,” Wagner said. “We wanted to have the same district and entrance requirements every year and wanted a more transparent process.”

For next year, Medina said, the district is also looking at better ways to promote PMSA entrance to area students, including updated advertisements, newspaper postings and meetings with feeder elementary school districts. VFP

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Woman Sets Self on Fire Inside Danny K. Davis’s Offices

Rep. Danny K. Davis

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

A woman is in stable condition after she reportedly set herself on fire inside of the congressional offices of U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a statement released by Davis’s office, at around 3:15 p.m., the woman entered the offices at 2746 W. Madison St. and started causing a scene. The congressman said he wasn’t at the office when the woman came in. He noted that he was coming from a meeting just down the street.

“My staff said she started picking things up out of the office and the receptionist asked her not to,” Davis said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“Eventually, they told her if she kept on, they’d have to call the police and at that juncture she said, ‘I’m not going to jail,’ and start drinking hand sanitizer and then started taking the stuff and rubbing it on her clothes. Then, she lit her clothes on fire with a cigarette lighter.”

Davis said one of his staffers grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the fire out before calling 911. The woman, Davis said, suffered burns and was taken to Stroger Hospital.

Davis said the woman was carrying no identification at the time of the incident and emergency responders could not immediately identify her.

“We have people like her who come to our office every day in need of mental health services and many are just a little bit away from that point,” Davis said.

“It just reinforces the tremendous need for mental health services in our community,” he added. “Those needs are going unmet. We hope and pray for this woman’s speedy and complete recovery and that her family finds out where she is.” VFP

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No Injuries After House Fire on 200 Block of S. 12th in Maywood

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Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh walks a ladder in the aftermath of a fire at a home on the 200 block of S. 12th Ave. No injuries were reported. | Courtesy Maywood Fire Department.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

No injuries have been reported after an early morning house fire in Maywood, village firefighters have reported.

The fire broke out at a home on the 200 block of South 12th Ave. at around 9:43 a.m. on Tuesday, according to a report on chicagofiremap.net, which noted that the fire started in the basement and spread to the first floor. Firefighters extinguished the fire by 10 a.m., the report states.

According to Maywood Fire Captain Denard Wade, the fire is still under investigation and no cause has been determined at this time. VFP

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In Bellwood, Lightford Blasts Rauner’s Veto of Childcare Bill

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State Sen. Kimberly Lightford with childcare providers and parents during a press conference on Monday outside of Sun Children Day Care in Bellwood. | Provided

Monday, August 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) hosted a press conference outside of Sun Children Day Care, 3903 Adams St. in Bellwood, today to blast Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Aug. 26 veto of a bill that would’ve expanded affordable childcare to more families throughout the state.

Senate Bill 730, which was voted on by large majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, would have expanded the Child Care Assistance Program to include families with incomes ranging from 185 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level within two years.

Last year, Rauner changed the monthly income requirements for CCAP eligible families from up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 50 percent of that level. Later on, he lifted that minimum income threshold to 162 percent of the poverty level.

According to estimates by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Rauner’s original changes to CCAP eligibility may have forced 55,000 children out of the assistance program. SB 730, they argued, would’ve allowed an estimated 52,000 additional children to benefit from the program.

Explaining his veto, the governor said that SB 730 “irresponsibly imposes an approximately 40 [percent] increase in the overall size of the program without any provision to fund such a broad enlargement.”

During her Aug. 29 press conference, however, Lightford and others said that the governor’s veto spells financial disaster for low-income residents, particularly women and children. SEIU officials noted that women comprise 99 percent of the childcare provider workforce and 94 percent of parents who participate in the CCAP program.

 “Parents in Illinois are paying more per year for infant care than a year of rent or college tuition. Starving the Child Care Assistance Program decreases the pay for providers and increases already high costs for parents,” said Senator Lightford, the SB 730’s chief sponsor. “This legislation creates jobs, and more importantly, creates a path to the middle class for many families.”

“The Child Care Assistance Program is a program that serves and employs women, making it possible for mothers to support their families and to contribute to the local economy,” said childcare provider Faith Arnold, who hosted the event at Sun Children, which she operates out of her Bellwood home.

“Bruce Rauner’s cuts to CCAP are forcing women out of school, out of work, and off the path to greater earnings and advancement,” she said.

Tenai Woods, whose son goes to Sun Children, said she lost her childcare for two months and had to decrease her hours at a local nonprofit just so she could keep her CCAP eligibility.

“Without child care, I can’t work,” she said. “I don’t want to cut back my hours, but without child care, how can I work and support my family?” VFP

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A Golden Apple Teaching Scholar Hones Skills in Maywood’s Quinn Center

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Jamal Murphy, right, completed his Golden Apple Scholars training at Quinn Community Center in Maywood over the summer. The program college students who aspire to be teachers with communities of need. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal 

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Monday, August 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Jamal Murphy, who attends Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, hopes one day to inspire his students the way his 5th-grade teacher inspired him.

“In the 3rd and 4th grades, I fought and I never really cared about school,” Murphy, 21, said during an interview earlier this summer inside of the Quinn Community Center, 1851 S. 9th Ave. in Maywood.

“In 5th grade, a teacher got me involved in extracurricular activities and off the street,” said Murphy, a Chicago native.

That teacher, Murphy said, changed the trajectory of his life. And now that his path is set, it’s a matter of making the road a bit smoother.

Enter Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, a scholarship program designed to provide intense training to aspiring teachers throughout their college career and particularly within high-needs learning environments.

Scholars typically spend three summers with the program while in college and receive numerous benefits, such as tuition support, stipends, mentoring from Golden Apple teachers and job placement assistance. In exchange for all of that, scholars agree to teach at least five years in a school in Illinois where at least 33 percent of students come from low-income households.

“The program is very intense,” said Mary Farmer, the director of Golden Apple’s Summer Institute at Dominican University, one of the program’s partner sites where scholars take courses.

“You have classes that you might not necessarily receive in your preparation at university,” she said. “We base (instruction) on what we consider are areas of improvement in first- and second-year teachers.”

“When they first come into the program, when they’re seniors in high school and going into their freshman year in college, they’re working with teachers in summer schools and getting that experience of being in the classroom,” said Damon Ehrett, a 25-year-old teacher from downstate Illinois and himself a former Golden Apple scholar.

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“By the third year, they’re completely in charge of leading a classroom and creating lesson plans and curriculum,” he said. “They get to do this as incoming college juniors, when most education students haven’t even started student teaching yet. So, they get a huge advantage.”

Murphy, whose family lives in West Garfield Park, finished out his third summer as a Golden Apple scholar at Quinn, which services a population of young people similar to those he grew up with on Chicago’s West Side.

Scholars and program administrators touted the Golden Apple program’s ability to foster diversity among the budding teachers and students with whom they’re paired.

Ehrett said he spent his first summer as a scholar at two elementary schools in Chicago. He said the program exposed him to the kind of cultural and economic diversity that’s relatively absent in central Illinois.

“Being in those different communities was eye-opening,” Ehrett said. “I don’t think I’d have gotten that experience without a program like this.”

For Murphy, who said he realized he wanted to be a teacher by chance while in high school, the experience has given him a way to connect with students who are, in some ways, mirror images of the kid he was before his 5th-grade teacher seized him and steered him to his potential.

“One day, when I was in high school, the teacher was going around the room asking everyone what they wanted to do in college,” Murphy recalled.

“I kept hearing things like engineer, accountant and all these things,” he said. “I had two options — motivational speaker and teacher. I told myself, ‘I don’t want to be the typical Steve Harvey dude.’ And that’s when I said teacher.”

Murphy said after announcing his ambitions, the teacher, who was a mentor of his, encouraged him to apply for the Golden Apple Scholar program. Initially, he said, he was turned off by the rigorous application process and the amount of essay writing it required. After some nudging by his peers, though, he eventually applied.

Now, his career aspirations have come into even clearer focus. He wants to become a school district superintendent one day. When asked to envision himself superintendent of a local school district and to name some policies or ideas he’d want implemented, Murphy perked up, obviously charmed by the possibility.

“I think one thing (any administrator needs) is to have an understanding (with students),” he said.

“You can read or talk about it, but I grew up in it. I was one of those kids. I’d know if they’re not eating or if something is going on at the house. Just being there for the students and showing that, ‘Okay, I’m accountable for you guys’ (is important). It’s not just me against you all. It’s us as a community.” VFP

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