The University of Chicago News Office
Sept. 26, 2006 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Woodlawn added as new campus to University of Chicago Charter School

Print-quality photos:

Robert Zimmer speaking with Alderman Arenda Troutman

Linda Wing, associate director of the Center for Urban School Improvement, State Sen. Kwame Raoul, and Robert Zimmer

Woodlawn High School, a new school for students from the neighborhood and throughout the city, was dedicated Tuesday, September 26 as a campus of the highly successful University of Chicago Charter School.

University President Robert Zimmer spoke at the celebration of the opening of the campus, which shares space with Wadsworth Elementary School, 6420 S. University Ave.  Joining Zimmer in the dedication was James Crown, Chair of the University Board of Trustees; Alderman Arenda Troutman, whose 20th Ward includes Woodlawn; State Sen. Kwame Raoul; Woodlawn community leader, Joseph Strickland; and Henry Webber, Vice President for Community and Government Affairs at the University.  Hosanna Mahaley, New Schools Officer and the head of the Renaissance 2010 program for the Chicago Public Schools, was also at the event.

A video that chronicles the hopes and dreams of Woodlawn’s students and parents was shown at the program. One of the directors and producers of the video is Woodlawn freshman Shani Edmond, a graduate of North Kenwood/Oakland, the first University of Chicago Charter School campus, established in 1998.

The Woodlawn campus’ secondary program begins in sixth-grade under a model designed to improve the transition to the traditional high school grades. Enrollment consists of 50 sixth graders and 110 ninth graders.  By 2009-2010, it will enroll 590 students and graduate its first class in 2010.

Timothy Knowles, Director of the Center for Urban School Improvement, which operates the school, said that it has an ambitious mission: to prepare all its students for success in college, develop new knowledge about Chicago’s communities through student research, service, and leadership, and serve as site of professional development where educators enhance their capacity to teach all children well.

The school day begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m, about three hours longer than the day at CPS schools.  The school year is 190 instructional days long, compared to 173 at Chicago public schools.

Students have already become engaged in challenging ways of learning. For instance, they are currently studying A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, who grew up in Woodlawn.  Their studies will include attending and getting an inside look at Raisin, a musical based upon the prize-winning play to be performed at the Court Theatre.  Court Theatre at the University of Chicago is one of the school’s partners.

The curriculum and graduation requirements are linked to college entrance requirements. Students must complete three years of laboratory science and social sciences, and, by taking double periods during the freshman year, they will take five years of English and mathematics.

Open to students throughout the city, the school is intended to serve Woodlawn in particular; 43 percent of the campus’ students reside in the school’s attendance zone.  In general, the zone runs from 60th to 67th and from Stony Island Ave. to Evans Ave.

Barbara Crock, a former teacher, coach and administrator in public schools in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, is director of the campus and Victoria Woodley, who also has extensive experience in Chicago public schools, is the director of academic and social supports.

Major funders of the high school are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Chicagoans Ken and Anne Griffin. Students at the North Kenwood/Oakland campus of the University of Chicago Charter School have achieved success. According to the 2006 data from the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, an average of 79 percent of NKO's third-through eighth-grade students met or exceeded standards in mathematics; and an average of 71 percent of NKO's students in the same grades met or exceeded standards in reading.

In addition to North Kenwood/Oakland, the University of Chicago Charter School has a campus at Donoghue, 707 East 37th St., which opened in the fall of 2005.  In its first year, the majority of Donoghue’s kindergarten through grade three students made more than one year of progress in reading. While 13 percent met reading benchmarks in August 2005, 52 percent met reading benchmarks in June 2006.