As a program coordinator for several school partnerships at Chicago Cares, I often feel a sense of nervousness on the first day of programs, trying to determine if any detail was forgotten and asking myself “Will students attend?” That’s one question I needn’t worry about at Henderson School. On the first day of Chicago Cares programming this school year, I arrived at Henderson a half hour before the programs were scheduled to start and saw that the playground in front of the school was teeming with students playing, but eager for our programs to begin. Further, many volunteer leaders and volunteers had also arrived and were preparing for their first day.

Perhaps the ease at which these programs typically run at Henderson is due to Chicago Cares’ long-standing partnership with the school. Henderson School has been hosting corporate volunteer programs with us since 1993 and ongoing programs since 1996, the longest period of our involvement with any school. The assistant principal, Mr. Hudson, has been working with Chicago Cares throughout our entire relationship with Henderson and is consistently at the school on Saturday mornings to oversee the programs.

Henderson is located in Englewood and serves 357 students in preschool through eighth grade. Henderson’s guiding principle is high-quality instruction that focuses on individual students’ needs. The school seeks to build a community of learners through ongoing professional development while implementing instructional excellence in the classroom. Chicago Cares supplements classroom learning by providing hands-on activities that increase students’ excitement about learning.

We provide Read-with-Me for second grade students, which enhances their comprehension and inspires a love for reading. At Art Around the World, third graders learn about art and customs from various countries through reading and art projects. As fourth graders prepare for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in the spring, which focuses on science for their level, volunteers at Mad Scientists help those students conduct science experiments and learn the scientific method. At Discover Chicago, fifth graders explore the city’s history and culture through reading and activities that range from creating their own city flag to making a Chicago-style hot dog.

In addition to the warm welcome that children at the school deliver on Saturday mornings, Henderson has also been undergoing a series of renovations that are brightening and restoring the façade of the school. We invite you to check out the school and Chicago Cares’ programs yourself by signing up to volunteer with us at Henderson School!

Photo from Public Building Commission of Chicago
Photo from Public Building Commission of Chicago