As a neighborhood school on Chicago's north side, Sullivan enrolls an ethnically, economically, and academically diverse student population of l,300 seventh through twelfth graders. Since we view this student diversity as both our school's primary strength and its principal challenge, the Sullivan community has endeavored to create an educational program where student differences can be celebrated and individual student needs addressed.
Central to our efforts has been our Paideia Program which draws upon the educational ideas of Mortimer Adler. Thus Sullivan teachers regularly integrate didactic instruction with coaching activities and Socratic seminars. We believe that we thereby ensure the organized acquisition of knowledge and skills by our students as well as invest them in the exploration of ideas and the development of personal understanding. Our Paideia experiences led us to join the Coalition of Essential Schools in l989. In particular, we were attracted by three CES principles: less is more; student as worker, teacher as coach; and student exhibition of mastery. As a result, we have established a core integrated curriculum, honed our instructional methods, and introduced a senior exit exhibition along with numerous class demonstrations of mastery.
Most recently we have recognized a need for greater reflection by all segments of the school community. In addition, we have understood the value of attending more carefully to the character of the conversations that occur at Sullivan. Participating in networks of schools which share these concerns has helped us define our issues and enhanced our reflective capacities. The Critical Friends Group initiative of the Annenberg Institute of School Reform, the authentic pedagogy classes of the Chicago Forum for School Change, and the "telling your school's story" workshops of the School Change and Inquiry Project have provided us with the training, resources, and collegial support necessary to ask the hard questions about our educational program.
For more information, please contact:
Mrs. Kathryn Ruffalo
Sullivan High School
6631 North Bosworth
Chicago, Il 60626