Jacqueline Edelberg's Tips to Improve Your School

Take Education into Your Hands

how to walk to school by jacqueline edelberg!

Unsure about sending your kid to public school? Don’t worry, just act. Local mom Jacqueline Edelberg did when she made grassroots efforts to better Lakeview’s Nettelhorst School (she shares the journey in her book How to Walk to School, co-authored by Susan Kurland).

Hers was a happy ending. Yours can be, too, if you follow her tips for tackling common problems.

Problem: The school has no reputation or a bad reputation in the community.
Solution: Walk into the principal’s office and offer to help. Invite neighborhood organizations (chambers of commerce, civic groups, condo associations, etc.) to stage their events at your school. They can distribute fliers or kick-start social media campaigns about the events, which will subtly market to prospective parents and generate overall enthusiasm.

Problem: The building, classroom, and grounds need sprucing up.
Solution: Help the school radiate vitality and warmth by raising window shades so passersby can see things in action and keeping lights in classrooms facing the street on at night. Rally community members to pick up trash and clean up graffiti. Ask teachers to display kids’ artwork in the windows.

Problem: Extracurricular programs are lacking.
Solution: Partner with local business — Lillstreet Art Center, Mad Science, HMD Tae Kwon Do, for example — to teach programs after school. Businesses can charge parents for their services but should offer a few need-based scholarships.

Problem: There’s so much to do on a limited budget.
Solution: Ask painters and local artists to adopt classrooms; with their pro bono face-lifts, you’ll have an instant PR campaign. Post your needs on Craigslist and Donors Choose, and mine shuttering businesses and yard sales for supplies.

Remember, change takes time. But every step is a lesson learned.

For more thoughts on positive change in schools, read How to Walk to School, available at Unabridged Bookstore (where half the profits from the book benefit Nettelhorst School), 3251 North Broadway Avenue, at Melrose Street (773-883-9119); online at amazon.com. More information online at howtowalktoschool.com.

this week in chicago!

Baby Loves Disco Lemonade Tour
DJs spin ’70s and ’80s hits for little booty shakers in a real club setting.
Why: Proceeds benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit dedicated to curing childhood cancer.
When: Sun., noon-3 p.m.
Where: Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., b/t Grace St. & Waveland Ave. (773-549-4140). Tickets (adults and kids who can walk, $20; family four-pack, $60) online at babylovesdisco.com.

Kith & Kin’s Kids’ Menu
You go there for the luscious crocks. Now bambino can get his fill of hand-cut pappardelle, ants on a log, and tomato soup and grilled cheese.
Why: Break the PB&J rut.
When: Lunch, Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner, Wed.-Mon., 5 p.m.-midnight.
Where: 1119 W. Webster Ave., b/t Seminary & Clifton Aves. (773-472-7070).

Dim Sum Paper Fun
Kids ages 3-5 work with different types of paper to create 2-D and 3-D projects inside cheery Wishcraft Workshop.
Why: DailyCandy Kids readers get a two-for-one discount; sign up with a buddy and you both save 50 percent (applies to all fall classes at Wishcraft Workshop; mention DailyCandy when registering).
When: Thru Nov. 7. Tues., 10-11 a.m.
Where: 2312 W. Roscoe St., b/t Claremont & Oakley Aves. Register at 773-348-9474. Seven-week sessions cost $120-$170.

Photo: Thinkstock

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Unabridged Bookstore
3251 N Broadway
@ Aldine Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Kith & Kin
1119 W Webster Ave
bt Seminary & Clifton Aves
Chicago, IL 60614
2312 W Roscoe St
bt Claremont & Oakley Aves
Chicago, IL 60618
3730 N Clark St
bt Grace St & Waveland Ave
Chicago, IL 60613