Public Schools Offer Amazing Opportunities – and Here’s an Example

I was driving to work this morning, listening to WBEZ (like I do most days), trying not to cry (like I do most days). But my ears perked up when I heard something about a school in Joliet.

Now, I don’t talk about my specific place of work very often, if at all. And I do that on purpose – you know I’m a teacher, you know I’m in the southwest Chicago suburbs and you don’t really need to know much more than that.

But this got me going this morning, because WBEZ misreported the story, and it is an awesome story. Our STEM students designed and 3D printed a prosthetic hand for a young boy, and this week, they presented it to him. WBEZ did say it was Joliet Central toward the end of the story, but they started the blurb by saying that it was a Catholic school.

This is important because Joliet Catholic Academy is also in Joliet, and gets a lot of attention (for example: Rudy and football). From what I know (which isn’t much), it is a great school, and also in Joliet as the name suggests, but it is not the school where the hand was designed, 3D printed, and presented to a young boy who needed it. That happened at Joliet Central.

Joliet Central High School is a public school. Our demographic makeup is 17% White, 21.2% Black, and 58.2% Hispanic. 72.2% of our students are low-income. (Source: Illionis Report Card) We don’t discriminate in our higher-level programs for students – in fact, we won a national award earlier this year from the College Board for diversity in our AP and Honors programs. The students who designed this prosthetic hand are representative of our demographic makeup at this school – white, Hispanic, and Black; male and female; and I’d be willing to bet these kids don’t all come from the 27.8% of our students who are not low-income.

Public schools, especially ones like mine, get a bad rap these days and sometimes, like in this case, are all but ignored. Of course, we face our challenges, but we are providing truly amazing and unique opportunities for our students, and I wanted to set the record straight. I believe in public education. I believe public education benefits children, families, and communities, and this is a direct example of that. And it should have been reported correctly.

See more photos here.
See video here.

Featured Image Credit: JTHS 204 Flicker Page

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