By definition, a magnet is something that attracts—and in keeping with this concept, a magnet school is designed to draw in students from across the city who otherwise would not be attracted to the school. In the Chicago Public Schools, 52 magnet schools are located throughout the city—including five that were recently approved by the Chicago Board of Education.
The five new magnet schools are:
- Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy, 6730 S. Paulina
- Disney II Magnet School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave.
- Kershaw Magnet School, 6450 S. Lowe Ave.
- LaSalle II Magnet School, 1148 N. Honore St.
- Mayer Magnet School, 2250 N. Clifton Ave.
The schools will offer a variety of specialty programs for elementary-level students, including a Children’s Engineering Program, the first of its kind at CPS. This initiative, which will be offered at Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy, will provide students with the opportunity to work together in collaborative groups on engineering design challenges, projects, and activities, requiring them to define problems, research, construct, analyze, and communicate solutions.
“The students will love the engineering focus and problem-based learning approach that this school offers,” said Stephanie Williams, assistant principal at Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy. “Along with the problem-based learning methodology, the engineering program is very hands-on and will accommodate diverse learners.”
According to Sir Miles Davis principal Maxine Toliver, the program is expected to have a significant impact on students in a variety of areas, including teaching them to think independently, develop deeper critical thinking skills, work cooperatively, become better problem-solvers, widen their horizons for careers, and “think outside the box.”
Two of the new magnet schools will offer International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes. Kershaw will offer the IB Primary Years Programme for students in kindergarten to fifth grade, and both Kershaw and Mayer will offer the IB Middle Years Programme for students in grades six to eight. The IB Primary Years Programme fosters the development of the child, and the IB Middle Years Programme emphasizes an international and global perspective.
In addition to the IB Middle Years Programme for upper-grade students, Mayer will also offer the Montessori Program for students in pre-k to fifth grade. According to Michelle Frazier, grants manager for the CPS Office of Academic Enhancement, this program “stresses global peace that begins with each individual, but spreads to the larger community.”
The two remaining magnet schools, Disney II and LaSalle II, are also known as replication schools. They are designed to emulate the successful programs offered at Disney Magnet School and LaSalle Language Academy. Disney II will use differentiated instruction and integrate the subject areas of fine arts and technology to enrich the academic program. LaSalle II will offer students the opportunity to acquire proficiency in Chinese or Spanish. Starting in September, the magnet programs at Disney II and LaSalle II will serve students in kindergarten to second grade; an additional grade will be added each year until the schools serve up to eighth grade.
“The new magnet schools allow parents in the various communities to have more options as to the type of school their children attend,” said Frazier. “These schools extend the types of curriculum that are offered and allow parents to find the best educational fit for their child based on interest.”
Four of the five magnet schools are partially funded through a $10.1 million grant received through the federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program. Parents and students interested in the new magnet schools for the 2009-10 school year may submit Options for Knowledge applications this fall, between Oct. 1 and Dec.19. Students are randomly selected for available spaces through a computerized lottery. For more information, contact the Office of Academic Enhancement at (773) 553-2060.