Tag: Barbara Cole

BREAKING: D209 Board Hires New Superintendent As Some Residents Point To Language Barrier


Dr. Jesse Rodriguez || Photo: Star Tribune

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain

The Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education, at a Feb. 23 special board meeting, voted unanimously to hire Dr. Jesse Rodriguez to replace outgoing superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, according multiple sources.

Rodriguez was one of two finalists for the position. The other finalist was Dr. Eric Gallien, a deputy superintendent with the Racine Unified School District in the greater Milwaukee area.

Both Gallien and Rodriguez, a regional superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools, toured Proviso schools and met with various community stakeholders on separate occasions earlier this month.

“Both [candidates] seem to be transformational,” Kelly told the Forest Park Review at the time both men were being considered for the job. “They are both saying they would be visible in the community and are up for the challenge.”

“This is a major decision for the Proviso community,” Kelly said of the board’s selection. “We need [the community] to be there and to share their voice. This is why I want the community to come out. I feel it’s very important [for the public] to hear from candidates and speak to them.”

But some residents have chafed at the news.

Soon after learning of Rodriguez’s hiring, Barbara Cole, the founder of area nonprofit Maywood Youth Mentoring and an outspoken youth advocate, sent out a statement, by way of email and social media, advising the board against hiring Rodriguez because of what she considers to be his heavy accent.

The statement was shared in various Facebook groups and included in multiple email chains. Before praising the board for exhibiting “good governance” by opening up the hiring process to community input and complimenting both finalists on their credentials, Cole said that Rodriguez’s accent presented a prohibitive barrier to his hiring.

“However, it is compelling that Dr. Jesse J. Rodriguez’s language accent is so heavy and dense that it places a number of factors at risk and therefore his hiring as the Superintendent would, in our judgement, not be a prudent choice for the 209 school district,” Cole wrote.

In a recent phone interview, Cole said she was at a public meeting during which Rodriguez presented to the community and couldn’t understand much of what he said, adding that he mispronounced “Proviso,” among other proper nouns.

“The majority of the people there, who I talked to, acknowledged that there was a heavy accent that might interfere with communication,” Cole said in the interview.

“Even the people who I sent the email to felt that it was a valid consideration,” she said. “Our concerns should be a priority in terms of him hitting the ground running.”

Cole insisted that the criticisms she and other community members have made about Rodriguez’s accent have nothing to do with his ethnicity.

District officials, including several board members, could not be contacted immediately for comment. VFP



In Honor of Dr. King, A Defense of Black Men


A Jan. 16 panel discussion in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Hope Tabernacle Community Church in Forest Park turned into a lively discussion on the state of black men in America. | Michael Romain 

Saturday, January 16, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

More than 100 people from across the western suburbs and Chicago gathered at Hope Tabernacle Community Church in Forest Park on Jan. 16 to reflect on the legacy of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was the previous day.

Bishop Reginald Saffo, pastor of United Faith Missionary Baptist Church and president of United Faith Christian Institute and Bible College in Maywood, hosted the event. He said he wanted to highlight the multidimensional aspects of King’s message.

“I believe that it is essential to show that there was another aspect to Dr. King,” he said. “He was an academic and a preacher as well, but he had a whole lot to say. We wanted to capture his emphasis on education and policy-making.”

But what was partly a commemoration of a glorious past was also a candid discussion on the present state of African-American males — those human beings who have acquired an almost unicorn-like mythology in the American public’s imagination and not in the least because they are, like that made-up creature, the products of other people’s fictions. And that could be, in part, due to their absence.

“For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men,” notes a 2015 New York Times article. “The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing.”

Among cities, Ferguson, Missouri has the largest gap between black women and black men. In Ferguson, there are 40 “missing black men for every 100 black women.”

The gap, the Times claims, is largely due to early deaths and prison. Futhermore, the gap “barely exists among whites.” There is only one missing white man for every 100 white women.

At the Jan. 16 event, however, a panel of actual black men — representing both themselves and the millions who are, for all intents and purposes, voiceless — pushed back against what might be considered to be the myth of their total absence.

Dr. Dennis Deer, a psychologist and president of Deer Rehabilitation Services, Inc., said on the West Side of Chicago, where he lives, there are ample mentoring programs.

“There are some black men who are grabbing young, black brothers and pulling them forward,” Deer said. “It happens every single week, or two or three times a week. Young brothers, some of them fathers already, are being taught how to take care of their children, because some of them are fathers already. We just gave a young man clothing for his two-month baby, because he didn’t have any clothes. This stuff is really happening in the community.”

Jesse “FX” Ingram, a retired Maywood Police officer and security administrator at Proviso East High School, said he’s a constant presence in the hallways.

“I talk to children in the school everyday,” the 63-year-old said. “I’m in the hallway everyday. I’m 63 and God blessed me to still be moving. I engage them. We have to be responsive to children. We have to keep talking to them and giving them information when we talk to them. We can’t be afraid of them.”

Proviso East Principal Dr. Patrick Hardy related his own experience of ‘being present.’ His mentee, he said, was not at the event, because the young man was busy with his preparation for law school at the University of Missouri. For black men, absence doesn’t always mean prison or early death, Hardy indicated.

“There are programs that are going on,” said Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, who was in the audience. “In fact, the reason why I was delayed was beause I was at a mentoring program hosted by Rep. [Emanuel “Chris”] Welch.”

But audience members didn’t steer around the brutal reality they said is nonetheless prevalent in many black communities.

Mike Burries, an audience member who fielded a question to Hardy and his co-panelists, was blunt about what he considers to be the fragmented nature of many community programs and services designed to address the myriad problems with black youth.

“I realize there are a lot of people in our community who are doing a lot of stuff,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff being done, but I’m going to keep it real with you. The reason we’re here is because nothing is being accomplished. And the reason nothing is being accomplished is because we know where we’re at, but we don’t know where we’ll be. What are we doing to bring us together so we can stop talking about what black boys are not doing and what kids in school aren’t doing?”

Talley reinforced Burries’s critique, noting that he’d like to see more coordination among various services and organizations.

“There are a lot of programs, but I wish that we, as African-Americans, would coordinate more,” he said.

Barbara Cole, the founder of Maywood Youth Mentoring, agreed and recommended a series of action steps, such as putting together a sign-in sheet with contacts of people who would be willing to volunteer with local youth.

“The problem is bigger than all of us and nobody’s single program is going to solve it,” she said.

“The biggest need that I see with the 1,870 students that i get to work with everyday doesn’t involve anyone in this room unless you’re one of my parents and that is the lack of parents,” Hardy said.

“I don’t know how to solve that. I don’t agree with the idea that it takes a village to raise a child,” he said. “The Bible says children obey your parents. When I call home, I need a parent to answer the phone.”

“Nobody has all the answers, but if we come together collectively, we can probably … get some things done,” said Mark Jones, one of the panelists, who echoed some of Cole’s recommendations.

Some of the panelists’ closing comments began coalescing around King’s message of love and justice.

“None of you truly believe until you wish upon your brother what you wish upon yourself,” Ingram said, quoting a religious proverb.

Alexis Spearman, a student at Walther Christian Academy and one of the event’s panelists, quoted King directly.

“We will not be satisifed until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream,” she said. VFP 

Black History Month Begins In January For Maywood Youth; Local Mentoring Nonprofit Wins Statewide Recognition

Mentoring pics

Youth with Maywood Youth Mentoring (MYM) show a pull-out of key events and people in African history during a recent post-Kwanzaa, pre-Black History Month breakfast hosted by MYM. Author Mary Morris, below, presents ideas and concepts from her body of educational work at the breakfast. || Nicholas Samuel

Mary MorrisTuesday, January 12, 2016 || By Nicholas Samuel 

“Our history is like the relationship between a mother and a child. We love our mothers. Africa is our mother and the birthplace of all humanity,” said Mary Morris, educator, author and Maywood youth mentor, at a youth breakfast held Jan. 9 at the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Ave.

The breakfasts are held each month and hosted by the Maywood-based nonprofit Maywood Youth Mentoring (MYM). This month’s breakfast took the theme of a post-Kwanzaa, pre-Black History Month event.

Morris, who wrote the book “Young Lions: Challenged to Live Free” in 2011, recently published a 2016 ancient African calendar. At the Saturday breakfast she presented the ideas and concepts in her body of work to about 50 area residents.

“How many of you have heard that we were once kings and queens in Africa? You come from the greatest culture in the history of the world,” Morris said to the gathering, many of whom were young people who are part of MYM. 

“It’s important for youth to know who they are, who their ancestors are, to respect their ancestors and respect themselves,” Morris said.

She listed numerous key dates and events in African history that she believes are often overlooked in most classrooms, such as the presence in Africa of grand libraries and innovations in math, science, medicine and literature.

“Our children deserve to know they are the descendants of great artists, engineers and grand master builders,” Morris said.

Morris’s Egyptian calendar illuminates the art and notable achievements of Africans, including statues of kings, queens, scribes, architects and philosophers. The Africans also built temples that are more than 6,000 thousand years old, she pointed out.

“Some of those temples are still there. It’s amazing how all of this has stood the test of time,” said Morris, who has visited the continent several times. “Nobody can take this art away from us. This is our culture.”

The statue of Horemakhet, better known as the Great Sphinx, starts off the calendar for the month of January.

Horemakhet, which has the body of a lion and the face of an African man, is the oldest sculpture in the world, according to Morris. It’s estimated to be 12,000 years old, she said.

“They don’t speak on ancient African history in school and never will. That’s deep, real deep,” said 21-year-old attendee and MYM member Darrion Orr.

Barbara Cole, MYM’s founder and CEO, said African Americans don’t hear enough about their own history in school and only learn about black history during Black History Month.

“There’s a state standard for [teachers] to learn it and put it in their lesson plan. They’re using our tax dollars to teach our children,” Cole said. “The first person on the planet came from Africa. African American history is American history, so everybody should know it.”

Gina Harris, an MYM mentor and District 89 teacher, said it’s important that mentors continue to have conversations with black youth about ancient Africa.

“If they don’t recognize they have a rich history and great civilizations were created where they came from, students can make unfortunate choices,” Harris said. “We need students to see who they really are.”

For more information on purchasing “Young Lions: Challenged to Live Free,” $10, or the 2016 Ancient African calendar, $10, contact Mary Morris at msmary.culture@gmail.com or contact her through her here.

Maywood Youth Mentoring Wins 2016 IMPACT Award for Group Mentoring Program

Maywood Youth Mentoring was recently announced the winner of the 2016 IMPACT Award for a group youth mentoring program. The award is given out by the Illinois Mentoring Partnership (IMP), a nonprofit “dedicated to  expanding the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships for children and youth in Illinois,” according to its website.

The Maywood nonprofit will be presented the award at a Jan. 22 breakfast. January is National Mentoring Month and statewide recognition breakfast is the first of its kind “to hoonor companies, organizations, and key individuals who are making a difference through mentoring,” according to IMP. VFP

‘We Need Some Snitches, Because He Needs Justice,’ Says Peace Walker of Maywood Trustee Whose Brother Was Murdered

Peace Walk I

Peace walkers, including (back left to right): Lennel Grace, president of NOMCO; Trustee Michael Rogers; Germaine Porter; Phyllis Duncan; and state Rep. Chris Welch (7th). Other walkers included Environmental Beautification Commission chairman Laura Lange. Below, a young woman holding a sign at the spot where Michael Brandon was found dead. 
Peace Walk II

Monday, June 15, 2015 || By Michael Romain || Updated: 7:18 PM

MAYWOOD || Last Saturday, June 13, a small band of community members marched down St. Charles Road, from 5th Avenue to 17th Avenue, and converged on the corner lawn space where the body of 28-year-old Michael Brandon may have lain for up to three hours the morning of June 7, before first responders came to the scene, according to eye witness accounts.

The man’s death from multiple gunshot wounds was all the more tragic given that he was the brother of recently elected village trustee Isiah Brandon, 25. On Saturday, community leaders from various governmental bodies and social organizations braved the ominous rain clouds in a small show of solidarity — both to commemorate a young man lost to violence and a young man who many in attendance believes to be something of the embodiment of the town’s future direction.

“This is symbolic,” said state Rep. Chris Welch (7th) of the small march and vigil. “It’s important we show [Isiah Brandon], a leader in this community, our support for him and his family. At the same time, we’re sending a message to these thugs and punks out here that we’re stronger than them and that we stand together. This is our community, these are our streets and we’re going to take them back.”

Phyllis Duncan, a mother who lost her own son to gun violence in 2005 and is the founder of Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS), said the walk was a spontaneous idea after she and some members of her organization learned of the elder Brandon’s death.

“We hadn’t planned a peace walk yet, we were really waiting until all the kids got out of school and that we could organize something with all the village officials and community leaders, but after we had heard about Isiah’s brother losing his life, [Germaine Porter, MOMS’ director of outreach], came to me [with the idea]. She grew up with Isiah and Michael and the rest of them. [Their mother] had five children. She now has two, so we thought it was necessary to bring to the community’s attention this murder of this young man and give support to the Brandon family.”

“I’ve had enough of the violence in our community,” said Porter to the roughly dozen people gathered on the lawn of an apartment complex. “I’m tired of burying children. I’m tired of going to funerals. But this is home for me. Trustee Brandon and his family is my family. For us to take such a senseless death in our community on the corner in the middle of the night and no one was aware and no one can give us an answer and no one has a clue is unjust.”

“I’ve been to a hundred funerals in 10 years,” said Duncan. “And that kind of messed me up. I’m not just talking about young men, but young women, too. You don’t get over this kind of thing. You just get through it. But when you are constantly hearing the same news everyday about another child being murdered it just takes you back to the time when you had to bury your child.”

Duncan said she sympathized with Maywood police and understand that the department is stretched thin on manpower and resources, but that law enforcement officials nonetheless need to be held accountable for the treatment of relatives of those who have been murdered.

“I heard this young man laid in this grass for two to three hours,” she said. “I’ve been to sights where young men are just lying in the streets in their blood. They’re not covered up. People are walking by, taking pictures and all that. The police need sensitivity training. They need to know how to deal with the victim and the parents of children who are losing their lives. We need to talk to the hospitals, because I have moms coming to me saying they can’t even see their sons and daughters when they’re murdered. There are ways of doing things differently. It’s time out for business as usual.”

Maywood trustee Michael Rogers, who praised Brandon’s resilience (he was present at a board meeting three days after hearing the news of his brother’s death), said that the community should be patient with the police. Two officers from the department were present at the vigil, one of whom said that they were there to pay their respects.

“On behalf of the police department, please don’t say that nothing’s being done,” Rogers said. “Sometimes, because these are covert operations, you can’t go and tell everybody that you’re right on the cusp of [making an arrest]. But I would encourage you to give them the benefit of the doubt and continue to be participants in things like M.A.P.S. [Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies], continue to have neighborhood watch, continue to call the police and continue to let us as officials know when you think that things might be moving too slow.”

Those who spoke at the vigil proposed a range of solutions to the rash of violence in the community.

Barbara Cole, the founder and executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring, said that programs should be implemented that encourage relationship-building between the community and police.

“We need to build relationships with the police … so that people won’t be afraid of the police and police won’t be afraid of us,” she said.

Proviso Township School District 209 Board of Education President Theresa Kelly proposed that churches become more involved in the community and said that more youth programming should be implemented.

“We have a million churches in Maywood, let’s get them caring about our youth,” Kelly said. “They can do much better than what they’re doing. Let’s get these parks open, let’s get these schools open, and some constructive programs in these places. And for the state representative, let’s bring back some money here to Maywood so we can have more programs.”

Welch addressed the recent state budget crisis, noting that its implications could directly affect community outreach programs in Maywood.

“What’s going on in Springfield has everything to do with what’s going on out here on these streets,” Welch said. “The Democratic Party has passed a budget and sent it to Governor Rauner that protects funding for CeaseFire, protects funding for youth employment this summer, provides mental health service and all the critical things that are important to people of color, people living in poverty, the elderly, children — you name it.”

The most rousing speech was delivered by David Pollard, a Chicago Tribune reporter who used to cover Maywood issues for the town’s now-defunct newspaper, Pioneer Press.

“Maywood needs some snitches,” Pollard said. “I’ve watched this young man, covered him since he was a teenager,” he said of Trustee Brandon.

“He was proactive, involved. I’m sure he’s thinking, ‘I’m trying to make a change, but it’s affecting me personally. Should I just pull back, throw my hands up?’ I say everybody here should call the mayor’s office and the police department tonight and tell them this man needs some justice. He is the only one. He’s a young man. Who are you going to lead Maywood in the hands of? We’ve got to stand up for him. We need some snitches, because he needs some justice! He is the future of Maywood.”

That future stood silently, an off-center radius of the semi circle’s affection, his head bowed. When everyone had delivered his or her comforting remarks, he had his own words of inspiration. After telling the crowd that his mother, who has lost two other sons to gun violence, decided that she’d be moving out of Maywood, he struck a note of defiance.

I just hope that you guys stay involved, stay on the front lines, hold the leadership accountable,” Brandon said. “Your involvement will make the difference. I heard it was a [gang] war over here in this area, but I will be back in this area — whether it’s walking or jogging. I feel safe in Maywood … I feel safe in this community and I won’t be a prisoner in my own community. That’s unacceptable.”

Trustee Brandon explains circumstances of brother’s death in his own words; says mother is moving out of the village 

BrandonThese are Brandon’s extended comments during last Saturday’s peace walk:

My family moved here in the 1990s from DuPage County, so there were certain amenities that we were used to, such as a club house and a 7-Eleven. My grandmother bought a home at 9th and School Street. At the time, there was a park district across the street from us that was functioning very well, with programs and activities for everybody. I got connected really fast in Maywood and became involved in the process. I love this community, because it has given so much to me. A lot of you have seen me grow up in this community.

I was just telling a friend of mine the other day how much I hate looking at my village cell phone, because every time it vibrates, it’s usually something bad that happened in Maywood — another crime, another murder. When I received the alert about what happened to my brother, I was definitely thrown all the way off track and it’s definitely a crazy situation.

What we know is that my brother was coming home my cousin’s house who lives on 19th and St Charles. He was walking down St. Charles when he got shot somewhere in this area [on the corner of 17th and St. Charles]. We believe he was running and fell out by this tree.

Some people say, ‘Well why was he out that late.’ Well, let me tell you. There have been times when I have traveled through Oak Park and Forest Park coming from friends’ homes. You see people out walking their dogs and jogging early in the morning. Maywood can be the exact same way.

As I was telling the police, a day [after his brother was killed], someone got shot in this exact same area [where his brother died]. I have a problem with that. It is unacceptable.

We are in a hot zone. I was informed that there is a war happening. We can’t allow people to come in and take over our streets and our community. That’s unacceptable. There should have never been another crime two days after a major crime has taken place in the exact same area. Just a couple blocks down the road, one of the guys in my mentoring program was shot on the day of his prom. that should never be the case in the village. So, we are all responsible, every single one of us, for what happens in this community.

I’m sad to report that my mother has found a place outside of Maywood. She will be moving really really soon, because she has endured a lot. She had five kids, now she’s down to two. That’s a story that most people can’t handle. I’m so happy she knows God and has a connection with God, because she is doing better than I had expected. VFP

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Snapshots from Village Pride-Village Wide — The Garden That Barbara’s Boys Built


Cole with Latrell Townes, left, and Darius Whitfield, right. Photo by Michael Romain. 

imageSunday, April 19, 2015 || By Michael Romain

Yesterday, Saturday, April 18, was the first annual Village Pride-Village Wide Day. This is the first snapshot of several that will be published about the inaugural event.

MAYWOOD — Ezell Townes, 11, was a little boy when he helped plot the small garden at the corner of 17th and Madison as part of Maywood Youth Mentoring, the local nonprofit founded by youth advocate Barbara Cole.

On Saturday, Townes and three other MYM mentees were out doing a little sprucing up during Village Pride-Village Wide day.

They were just one of many dedicated bands of volunteers that were deployed throughout the village’s roughly three square miles in an intensive three hours of spring cleaning.

The volunteers gathered at ReUse Depot, 50 Madison, at around 9 AM and spread out from there. Local churches, such as Church of Christ, helped provide transportation to the volunteers.

Barbara Cole and her group of planters-in-training were picking up trash and putting down tulips at their dedicated corner. Ezell and his older brother, Latrell, 13, got busy raking up and hauling weeds and other yard clippings into industrial trash bags.

Darius Whitfield, 12, was steadfastly focused on mound of thick brush, carefully working his way around a sturdy plant that seemed a fixture of the corner plot.

“We like doing this,” said Whitfield, who along with the Townes brothers attends Irving Elementary around the corner.

Marcus Featherston, 16, looked on, giving direction and lending extra muscle when needed.

Cole said the materials for the plot were mostly donated from businesses such as Home Depot. She said the garden was installed about four years ago.

She said she and her youth attend to the plot, which features a colorful mural and painted trash cans, at least once a year. This year, they weren’t alone in their beautification efforts.

“I figured if the whole village was involved all at once, if we had a day where everybody got out, then you could see a significance difference in the village,” said Loretta Brown, one of the planners of the village-wide effort. VFP

To see and/or submit photos of yesterday’s cleanup event, visit Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization’s (NOMCO’s) Facebook page here



Maywood Youth See Themselves in Past Civil Rights Protesters

MLK Maywood IIIAttendees at an MLK Day viewing of the documentary “Children’s March,” held Jan. 19, at the 200 Building. Below, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins at the screening. Photo by Nicholas Samuel for the Village Free Press. 

Monday, January 19, 2015 || By Nicholas Samuel 

At an MLK Day event, a documentary ignites in young minds the power of peaceful protest

MLK Maywood_Mayor PerkinsMAYWOOD || Youth audience members gasped as they watched a video of young African-American protesters being sprayed by blasts of water from a fire hose.

These blasts of water, which could tear the bark off of a tree, knocked protesters to the ground and pinned them to the walls of surrounding buildings.

After the first blast divided the crowds of protesters, there were ten youth still standing who could be heard singing one word over and over – “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.”

“We could hear the firemen yelling, ‘Knock those niggers down,’” said one protester in the video.

The documentary, called “Children’s March,” shows how youth in Birmingham, Alabama fought against segregation in 1963, despite the attacks from police dogs and water hoses.

The Maywood Youth Mentoring Program showed the documentary and held a discussion afterwards as part of its Martin Luther King Day event, held at the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Avenue.

Dejah Landing, 14 of Maywood, attended the event and said she liked the fact that the civil rights protesters, most of whom were youth around her age, were able to make a difference.

“We were treated so dirty. It’s just sad,” Landing said. “I didn’t appreciate how they did us back then with the water hoses.”

Barbara Cole, founder of Maywood Youth Mentoring, said it’s important for the youth to celebrate how Martin Luther King Jr., struggled to bring us our civil rights. She said it’s also important for youth to know that most of the Civil Rights protesters were also youth and that 4,000 of them were arrested during the movement.

“Parents couldn’t participate because they were at risk of losing their jobs,” Cole said. “The youth sacrificed their own safety and came together in unity to fight for their civil rights. Those kids were outstanding in their activism–to go to jail, risk being bitten by dogs, etc.”

Cole said kids today need to know their history, so they can also become involved in solving the problems of this community.

Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who was also in attendance, said she supports Cole and that what Cole does for the young people is necessary.

The fight for Martin Luther King Day 

After years of campaigning by activists, members of Congress and Coretta Scott King, former President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing Martin Luther King Day as a U.S. federal holiday in 1983, according to a media source.

It was first celebrated in 1986 and is observed on the third Monday of January.

“It was a struggle for his wife to get this day. They kept pushing it back,” said Dr. Mary May Larry, a village liquor commissioner.

Trustee Audrey Jaycox attended the documentary viewing and discussion and said it’s important for the youth to learn about the struggles and the movement influenced by Martin Luther King Jr.

“Every time a person hears about what he has done, they learn something new,” Jaycox said.

“I don’t think his history can be repeated enough.” VFP

Nicholas Samuel is a contributing reporter and associate editor of thevillagefreepress.org.

Contact: nicholas.samuel@loop.colum.edu

Letters: District 209’s Freshman Summer Support Program Is A Resource That We Need To Use

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Last night I attended the D209 Information Session on new programs being implemented at the district. I was alarmed to learn that parents are not taking advantage of a special program designed for struggling incoming students.  Based on eighth grade test scores, the district created a special program and sent invitations to the parents of those students who could most benefit.  The Freshman Summer Support Program is being offered for 20 half days during June and July.   To date, only 14 students have signed up for the 120 available slots at both East and West (60 each).

The district indicated that they met with the D89 principals to explain the program, and sent letters home.  However, parents are not following through to sign-up their students.  The program is free; transportation is not provided.

Because this program is not available to all students (only those with demonstrated academic need based on test scores),  it is difficult to target an outreach to these parents.   Thus, please talk this up within your families, churches, and community to encourage parents to get their eligible students signed up ASAP.   Notifications were sent home to eligible students, so parents know if this is available to their students.   As classes begin in early June, this is urgent.

The district’s letter and brief sign-up form (English and Spanish) can be found here: sy14_freshman_summer_support_program_east. Please talk this up and pass this on!

Thank you,

Barbara D. Cole, Director || Maywood Youth Mentoring Program, Inc.