Esmond Elementary School in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago has a mission to “ensure that all student have a high quality, well-rounded educational experience.”
As a recent recipient of the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, the administrators and teachers of Esmond are happy to be able to introduce new technologies and a performing arts program to help provide that well-rounded experience.
Assistant Principal Edwin B. Mason says, “I’m very grateful for this grant that’s been afforded to us, and it’s definitely been a plus to make sure that we’re teaching well-rounded students to prepare them for the 21st century.” The school’s new technology includes nearly one-to-one integration, with each of the students receiving a laptop or other device to help connect to the world and to media. The grant was also able to help them improve their music program; they recently received a large amount of musical equipment including trombones, drums, clarinets, and more.
Dr. Angela R. Tucker, Principal of Esmond, says, “I am grateful that Chance the Rapper has put his money where his mouth is. Chance has made a huge difference in the lives of children in Chicago and all around the world, but particularly at Esmond School. Esmond School has flourished since we received the funds from the SocialWorks grant.”
Dr. Tucker explains that most if not all of the students participate in an after-school music program. “I would like to see this opportunity expanded forever in our school,” she says. “Bringing this opportunity to Esmond School has made a world of difference in some of the kids that we never saw shine [before] the way that they do [now].”
Mason has also seen the value that the New Chance Fund gives the school. “It has exposed our children. Exposure is one of the keys [to the students’ success],” he says. “We find that sometimes it may be the music that really sparks interest for a child,” and that interest, he says, ends up being reflected across the rest of the student’s academics.
While the fund itself has had a great impact on Esmond, Dr. Tucker explains that whom the money is coming from is also important: “[Chance] is from Chicago. He is from the south side of Chicago. He looks like our children, he reminds them of who they are, and he’s a role model for our children, and they want to see that. They want to see that you can make it in life, but don’t forget about the people who helped you along the way. He has made Esmond a breath of fresh air. The greatest gift you can give to any person is to share the talent you have with them and help them become an even better person. Continue to [help] because you’re making a difference in the lives of all the children.”
In addition to the funds from the grant, Mason is proud of the variety of inputs the school receives from all directions in the community. What makes the school special, he says, includes their instructional leader, talented and experienced teachers, community input, and parental input, as well as new construction and support of the community from the mayor and alderman.
While the school does continue to face some challenges, such as seeking increased parental involvement, Dr. Tucker explains that they are not roadblocks. “The challenges are not stressful because we have the right people in place to help navigate through the channels where we are experiencing difficulties,” she says.
Dr. Tucker confirms that the teachers have a great influence on the success of the students and the school.
“They have a vested interest in the school and the community,” she says, “and they truly care about teaching and learning. That’s one of the greatest advantages I have served as a principal…to bring in outstanding teachers who don’t mind expanding their knowledge base, but they also love to make a difference in the lives of children. Because of that, we are special. It’s not work, it’s what we do.”
Laura Smith, third-grade teacher, says, “When the students found out that Chance took an interest in them, they were so excited.” The grant affects not only the students and administrators but also the faculty. Lee Harrington, Diverse Learning teacher, explains that when the announcement was made, the school had a big celebration “to get a taste of what it’d be like to have performing arts in the school.” This opportunity has allowed Harrington, an actress, to incorporate her own acting talents in the classroom. The students love getting to see the passion of teachers shine through in their lessons.
The students will be experiencing the most benefit from the New Chance Fund, and they are eager for the opportunities it will allow.
Makhale Bond, third grader, says receiving the grant “makes me feel like I’m more appreciated in life. I feel grateful now that [Chance] gave money away to people that he really didn’t have to.” Makhale’s favorite subject is math, and he likes the technology that the grant is offering the school. He also likes how the students, teachers, and principal get along as they “work together as a community and strive for their best.”
Aja Halbert, eighth-grader, has been at Esmond since preschool. About the grant, she says, “It makes me feel special because we haven’t had people to give us stuff like that, so it’s actually nice for Chance to give his own money to people who need it the most in his community.” When she gets older, not only does she want to be a pediatrician helping children around the world, but she also wants to inspire people in Chicago to be whoever they want to be. “They can be more than what they just see on TV,” she says.
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.
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Date & Time
Friday, April 19th