Today’s post is from Emily Collins, Education Program Coordinator

Poverty, limited English proficiency, family instability and poor health; these are just some of the barriers that urban students may face while pursuing academic success. Overcoming these barriers is essential to the success of each student, adding pressure to faculty and staff already stretched thin due to budget cuts and education reform.

On the news we see reports of failing schools and inadequate teachers, spreading the belief that public schools are broken beyond repair. There may be places where this is true, but I want to tell you about one school that is boldly breaking through the barrier of low expectations: Brunson Math & Science Specialty School.

Upon arrival at Brunson it’s clear that this is not a failing school. Friendly teachers greet you at the door, artwork covers the halls, parents catch-up outside as they wait for their children, and laughter fills the air; Brunson is more than a school, it’s a community.

Located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, Brunson students face challenges many of us can’t even imagine. What’s different about these kids, however, is their overwhelming desire to be more; be more involved, be more educated, be more successful. At Brunson, students are given the tools to succeed beyond the classroom and encouraged to think about their future contributions in the world.

Take one look at the registration list for Chicago Cares programs and you’ll see just how dedicated these students are. More than 30 students are eager to stay late on Thursday nights, with 30 more filling the wait list. For these students and families, it’s about being involved, regardless of the activity. Everyone seems to know that Brunson is a place for children to grow and learn, a place for them to succeed.

For the school, volunteers bring new experiences and opportunities, positive interaction with adults, and the ability to provide more support for their students. For Chicago Cares, our partnership allows us to address community needs, create capacity and engage volunteers.  And for the volunteers serving in a vibrant community like Brunson, creating a lasting impact on a child, and having fun while you do it, brings new hope at the capabilities of all students no matter where they live. Join us for Photo Art or Read-with-Me programs and see for yourself; it’s often the smallest things that make the biggest impact.

Interested in being a consistent presence for these students?
Become a Chicago Cares team coordinator!
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