Overton Elementary is a community school located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville Neighborhood. CPS’s community schools are “the centers of their communities, with campuses open mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends and into the summer” that “connect children and families to a range of services that foster individual and economic well-being.” Overton maintains partnerships with the Ravinia Discovery Program, the Institute of Positive Education, CAPS, and EDYC 21st Century. It is also home to a Child-Parent Center.
In 2009, as part of the Burnham Park Network, Overton Elementary adopted a new computer-based method for teaching math that begins with concrete examples before moving to more abstract math language. The research-based program was designed by the Mind Research Institute.
Shawn Smith, the network’s Chief of Schools, describes Overton’s transformation while using the new method:
“Overton is one of our shining examples of success. They took to the Mind Research Institute and really embraced everything that it has to offer.”
Principal Brandi Barrett concurs:
“This pretty much changed the whole culture of the building. You can see the consistency and the confidence that we have in our students and our staff. Our students are always here in the morning and the afternoon. They want to do as much as they can. “
After the first year of using the program in 2009-2010, Overton students posted double-digit gains. In 2009, 43.7% of students Overton students met or exceeded on the ISAT; the following year, 60% of students met or exceeded.
One grandparent expressed deep sadness over Overton’s proposed closure. Her children and grandchildren both attended the school:
“It’s like a death in the family. It’s that sad,” she said. “Overton is a family school. These teachers are like aunties and uncles to my grandkids. We all take care of each other. We’ll never get that again.”