Loyola became a closer partner with Nicholas Senn High School this summer in order to enhance Senn’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program and curricula, and to offer more opportunities to teachers and students at both institutions. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the partnership alongside the Rev. Michael J. Garanzini S.J., president of Loyola, at a press conference in late May.
As one of multiple Chicago Public Schools that have an IB program, those involved with organizing the partnership see Senn’s curricula as compatible with components of Loyola’s education. The internationally recognized IB program operates in over 3,400 schools in 143 countries, and aims to improve the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills of students, according to the IB website.
The partnership will center around Loyola’s School of Education, but will include programs from the School of Social Work, the School of Communication, the School of Nursing, the Center for Urban Research and Learning and the College of Arts and Sciences. As of now, Loyola has five students set to begin “clinical placement” at Senn. They will begin working in a high school class with 10 faculty members assigned to start projects there.
Senn is a Chicago Public School at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. with over 1,200 students representing 55 different nationalities and 44 different languages. The student body has a 14.8 percent English Language Learner (ELL) and 88.5 percent low-income student figures. ELL students range from being unable to speak or understand English to having partial English abilities.
Those projects will include developing a writing center at Senn and training School of Education students from the Lake Shore Campus, according to Professor Ann Marie Ryan, the program director for teaching and education at the School of Education, who also teaches social science and history education.
“It’s a high school that has a lot of significant needs, but it’s also a high school that is a neighborhood school with a lot of people in the neighborhood who would like to see the school improve,” Ryan said.
Ryan called the partnership a “community effort,” explaining that the collaboration began when Senn’s neighborhood consulted city officials, Chicago Public Schools and the university with plans to work together.
Professor Charles Tocci, a teaching and learning instructor and the coordinator for the partnership, said that efforts aim to train both teachers and students to succeed.
“The goal of the partnership is for Senn High School to provide a world class education for all its students,” Tocci said. “That’s the general goal. Within that, there’s lot of steps to take.”
During the teachers’ strike, students from Senn were allowed to study in the Information Commons, since the Thorndale branch of the Chicago Public Library System was under construction. But there are far more ways that Loyola wants to support the high school, Tocci said, such as a course about teaching with original, or primary, sources, funded by a grant from the Library of Congress.