Once upon a time, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) formed a public school initiative–Grow 47, co-chaired by Dan Hynes and Paul Rosenfeld. In 2011, they came across a golden goose: $10 million in state funding for an annex at Bell Elementary and $10-13 million in TIF dollars allocated for a Coonley Elementary annex. Now, with those brick-and-mortar investments under its belt, Grow 47 is turning its attention to academics.
After looking at a number of enrichment options, the committee found one that was just right.
In conjunction with the Kohl Children’s Museum and McCormick Foundation, Grow 47 is bringing the Story Bus experience to Coonley, Courtenay, McPherson and Waters elementary schools for pre-K and kindergarten students.
Using the Story Bus program, which involves professional development for educators, teachers take a single children’s story, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Three Little Pigs, and build an entire semester’s worth of inter-disciplinary curriculum around the tale. Goldilocks becomes a social studies lesson on where to find bears around the world; Three Little Pigs turns into a phys ed game of “duck, duck, goose” played as “pig, pig, wolf.” The goal: Books become such a fun, interactive experience that children develop a lifelong love of reading. The entire program culminates in a visit from the traveling Story Bus exhibit.
“This is something schools have used, usually as a one-off,” said Ald. Pawar. “We want to make sure we can find partners to fund this every year.” (To launch the program, Pawar and Rosenfeld are picking up the portion of the tab not covered by grants.) “The hope is that we can get a couple of these enrichment programs in place each year at every school.”