Although rumors, snide comments and misinformation abound on the blogs about District 150, I encourage parents to do your own research and find out what is really happening in District 150. There are some promising projects on the horizon and personally, I remain encouraged by the prospect of new leadership; the push to increase parental involvement; the possibility of the Math Science Charter School; and especially the efforts behind the new community schools (Glen Oak and Harrison).
Much of central Harlem, a New York City neighborhood, has grown a lot over the last decade. It has been growing its residents and the community as a whole, out of what has been known as an area filled with poverty-stricken children and families. The effort really got started nearly 40 years ago as the city’s first truancy-prevention program. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, crack became more common than any structure of family in Harlem. While many felt the neighborhood was destroyed by the drug epidemic, some began looking at new approaches to reach individuals and change the community.
A school was eventually turned into one of the city’s first Beacon Centers, a place that instead of shutting its doors at the end of the school day or for the Summer, began keeping them open with help from AmeriCorps volunteers. Activities and services were continuously offered. Later in the 1990’s, a pilot project was launched for an entire city block in the Harlem neighborhood.
Peoria Public Schools recently hosted two informational sessions regarding Promise Neighborhoods and the HCZ model. From these meetings, a delegation of six people volunteered to attend a conference to learn more about the model and how it may be replicated in Peoria. Those six people were part of a 1,400 person audience from across the country that attended a HCZ presentation in New York City titled Changing the Odds: Learning from the Harlem Children’s Zone Model. Community members have also expressed interest in serving on local committees such as planning, data collection and grant writing.
Members of the New York delegation feel that Peoria is rich in resources and community assets and has laid the foundation for building on the HCZ model. The construction of two state of the art birth to 8th grade community schools, Glen Oak on the east bluff; and Harrison on the south end of Peoria, as well as the planning and community collaboration that has taken place to bring these schools to reality positions Peoria for viable grant opportunities from many sources.
The Promise Neighborhoods Planning Team will host another informational meeting on December 4th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the South Side Library on Krause across from Harrison School (on the 2nd fl). This meeting is open to the public.