On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

ELGIN — While they waited for the rest of their class to arrive on the first day of preschool, Carol Prieur’s students lined the hallways of Huff Elementary School, sitting cross-legged on colored dots on the floor. Twins Haylie and Kaylie Gallegos, wearing pink ribbons in their matching side ponytails, swapped the board books they’d chosen from a plastic bin with each other. Meantime, Keila Vellegas named the animals on the cover of her book, “Opposites,” which showed an elephant on a see-saw with … “A bunny!” she exclaimed. “He’s too little.” That’s one way Illinois’ second-largest school district is renewing its focus on early education this school year, according to Julie Kallenbach, Elgin School District U46 director of Early Learning Initiatives. “We’re trying to use every minute of every day,” Kallenbach said. Preschoolers started class at eight schools Wednesday across District U46. And with that, the school district has started toward its goal to bring first-graders up to reading level. It’s also started partnerships with private preschool programs and other community groups, hired seven new preschool teachers, added 280 new preschool students and expanded its preschool program to three new locations. That’s all because U46 made early education a district priority in Destination 2015, which the U46 Board of Education approved in December, according to Kallenbach. “When you make that a district priority, that affects the decisions you make,” she said. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

New focus on early education on first day of preschool in U46 (Sun-Times Media)

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In Uncategorized on August 31, 2011 at 7:07 am

The #wedding is on this weekend, despite #Irene, so I’m researching #NewBern. It has fudge shop, ghost tour and bookstore. My kind of town!

Quote of the day: “Oh, no! She’s got a tool!” Marianne Palczewski, 17, of Bartlett never would have thought she could use a compound mitre saw, she said. And Serena Patel, also 17 and of Bartlett, summed up her experience in the lab: “All the guys are like, ‘Oh, no! She’s got a tool!’ ” “But it feels really good to be able to do it by myself,” Serena said. That’s the confidence both girls have gained at the Bartlett High School Academy of Science, Engineering and High Technology, where they now are seniors. The academy — a special academic program at the school, at 701 Schick Road — has been pushing science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — since it opened in 1997. This year, all high schools in Elgin School District U46 are focusing on those four subjects through a new math curriculum and new technology, increased science-related activities and a $50,000 grant to study and close gaps between male and female students and other underrepresented groups. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

STEM growing in U46 schools (Sun-Times Media)

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm

RT @gracekelle: xtreme weather reminds us that we’re human, not invincible, need to talk/interact w others, & can be incredibly resource …

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm

The other proposals (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — The issue with a training tower 15 miles away from the city of Elgin is that having firefighters head there during a regularly scheduled shift “effectively stripped the city of having those firefighters available should a larger emergency have happened.” That’s according to Elgin Fire Capt. Robb Cagann. If those firefighters train while off-duty, the full-time and union fire department has to pay them overtime, Cagann said. Those were issues that Cagann noted the Elgin Fire Department had with sending its staff to train at the nearest tower in Huntley. The department did in-service training there about two years ago and some off-duty training there twice since then, he said. And those issues are why it “remains to be seen” whether Elgin emergency responders will use the training facilities at Elgin Community College’s proposed Public Safety and Sustainability Center in Burlington, even farther from the city than Huntley, Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall said. “I think the city submitted a proposal (to be home to the center) because we felt like we were the ideal location. We wouldn’t have been involved if we didn’t,” Stegall said. “We certainly respect the decision and have no quarrel with it. We were certainly disappointed. I’m sure the others who submitted are as well.” For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Elgin firefighters debate whether to use ECC training site in Burlington (Sun-Times Media)

What’s an Elgin-headquartered church doing in NORTH KOREA?! The answer is pretty “fantastic.” And it’s one of those stories I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I started reporting on it. ELGIN — Howard Royer admits the story sounds “fantastic”: A Korean-American, imprisoned as a suspected spy while helping with famine relief in North Korea in the 1990s, later is asked by its government to create the country’s first private university. And yet the Church of the Brethren, headquartered in Elgin, now supports that university, which is in itself fantastic — “very strange and phenomenal for North Korea because it’s so closed,” Royer said. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology opened in North Korea’s capital and largest city in October 2010, offering classes taught entirely in English. It’s funded by donations largely from Christian denominations and groups from both the U.S. and South Korea and staffed entirely by volunteers from around the world. Several of those volunteers gathered Thursday to discuss their work at the university at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave. “I think the Church of the Brethren looks at it as a reconciliation effort,” said Royer, manager of the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund. “We’re certainly interested in agriculture and feeding hungry people and making sure people can feed themselves.” “We try to be very circumspect in what we do and what we don’t do. The hope behind it is the walls would come down.” Famine aid Royer said the Global Food Crisis Fund first became involved in North Korea during the famine in the 1990s. Agglobe Services International Inc. had appealed to the Church of the Brethren for help creating sustainable farms to relieve the famine, he said. That partnership led to an introduction in 2004 to James Chin-Kyung Kim, the Korean-American invited by the North Korean government to found a university there following his success with a similar university on the country’s border in China, Royer said. That university would include a school of agriculture and life science. “It was a dream of Christians in South Korea. It was a long time in getting accomplished,” he said. Now in its second year, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology has about 300 students, all men, and 30 faculty members on a campus Royer described as “not unlike” Elgin Community College. Church of the Brethren members Robert and Linda Shank will return Monday for their third term at the university, where Robert is dean of the School of Agriculture and Life Science and his wife teaches English. Linda said the couple has a mailing address in Elgin but hasn’t lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, working in Liberia while the country still was at war, as well as Ethiopia, Nepal and Belize. Student adventure “It started with the adventure,” she said. “An adventure becomes something else when you meet such outstanding students.” Robert remembered meeting PUST students on the first day of school. “When they came in, they were all dead-faced, eyes straight ahead, so we started clapping. They started clapping and swaying side-to-side and smiling at their new professors,” he said. The students are polite and respectful — and very tall, he said. They wear business suits to class every day. Linda said she has learned so much more about them from the journals they keep in her English classes. Most have never lived away from home or met someone from outside North Korea, she said. The Shanks are hesitant to discuss the politics of North Korea. But Royer admitted there are some regulations on the school, and noted, “You just put up with things you don’t understand.” “As Christians, we can’t look at the obstacles and say, ‘Because of the government, we can’t do that,’ ” Church of the Brethren Executive Director Jay Wittmeyer said. “We have to look at doing what we can.” Copyright 2011, The Courier-News. All rights reserved. To comment on this story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm

A ‘fantastic’ tale (Sun-Times Media)

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

NOW I get why my cars keep getting smashed: VAMPIRES. Good thing I have so many religious artifacts in my car! #FrightNight #myluckwithcars

Sure, I could have done the first day flag raising story. But I wanted to give readers a sneak peek at the big issues coming up this school year… ELGIN — Just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jacob Ellis and Darion Grant already were circling the foggy Sheridan Elementary School playground, backpacks hanging from their shoulders. Jacob and Darion both are 14 and freshmen this year at Elgin High School, but they were catching the bus there from Sheridan, 510 Franklin Blvd. That’s only about a block from Jacob’s house, but he said he got to the elementary school an hour before his 7:18 a.m. bus, “because I didn’t know where my bus stop was.” Wednesday wasn’t just the first day of class in Elgin School District U46. It also was the first day of Illinois’ second-largest school district’s controversial plan to save money by busing high school students from their nearest elementary or middle schools, rather than from neighborhood bus stops. And, U46 spokesman Tony Sanders said, “Overall, I think it was a very successful day. Kids were in classrooms. They were learning.” For the rest of the story (which includes an arrest and some adorable kindergarteners in U46’s new dual language program), visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 9:10 am

First day in U46 has its issues — but busing isn’t one of them (Sun-Times Media)

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 9:01 am

Shhhwhat? Vinyl re-release of @monkeestour’s “Head” album, one of my all-time favorites? This is happening! http://t.co/cOJivWA via @addthis