“We didn’t have many arts here,”
says Norvell Batie, a 4th grade teacher at Aldridge Elementary School near Golden Gate Park. Yet now, you can find students at Aldridge Elementary School dancing and performing on Friday afternoons, excited to show off what they’ve learned from their dance instructors that week.
With the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, students at Aldridge now have the opportunity to experience a “well-rounded” education, a factor that Principal Cynthia Treadwell felt was lacking for some of her students.
Aldridge Elementary values an environment where “uniqueness and individuality is celebrated,” according to Principal Treadwell. Students should feel like “they matter and that they don’t have to be cookie cutter perfect” in order to thrive and learn at school. Principal Treadwell treats every child like family and discusses the importance of teaching the “whole child” and inspiring them to reach new potential.
Due to a lack of access to programs like music education and the arts, many of the students remain unaware of the talents and gifts that they bring to the table. An opportunity to engage and experience other creative outlets that they may be interested in makes the fund a great fit for a school like Aldridge.
Accessing resources has been a constant struggle for members of the Aldridge community.
“We’re in a poverty ridden community” and several children are exposed to gang violence, says Principal Treadwell. “Many of the students don’t have basic necessities such as food or clothing. For many of our students, if their basic needs aren’t met, they’re not interested in their education,” making the combined need of the Aldridge student body a great one, and the cost the school incurs very high. According to Principal Treadwell, preventing road blocks for students remains at the top of her priorities. At all costs, the school attempts to provide clothing, food, and school supplies such that no student has to worry about their basic needs being met upon arriving to school.
Since implementing a new dance program with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, along with other advancements to curriculum, a buzz has erupted at Aldridge. Interest in attending school has increased; children look forward to music class, ballet class, and more. More children and their family members find ways to stay involved in the various programs Aldridge now offers. New programs have created a domino effect of involvement in the community as well. Parents ask how they can become involved outside of school and they attend their children’s performances and practices much more frequently as well.
Perhaps one of the most powerful effects of program developments like Aldridge’s dance program is that students can see themselves in the artists they watch perform. Principal Treadwell describes students with “their eyes glued to the stage because they’ve never seen male or female dancers before,” making a mark on the future students can envision for themselves.
For students like Jermara Guy and Dashay Champion, the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund has impacted their experience as students at Aldridge.
When asked what it means that Chance selected their school, one student stated that updating the school and going “modern” impacted the way Aldridge felt as a learning environment. Throughout all of the interviews, one sentiment remained clear: exposure matters. Through dance, art programs, and a nurturing community, the Chance fund has helped students realize what their dreams can be and encouraged the community to remain an active part in the life of students.
Learn more about the New Chance Arts & Literature Fund. You can also learn more about our mission and other initiatives like Warmest Winter Chicago and Open Mike.
Date & Time
Friday, October 26th
Aldridge Elementary School