My grandson Jeremiah is in the 7th grade at the school and has attended the school since kindergarten. For 5 of those last years, he has been part of an F-rated school.
Me and nearly my entire family are proud alumni of School 63, as is my mother, my aunts and uncles and many other extended family. My aunt is 90 years old and graduated from Wendell Phillips. So we have been a part of this community for four generations and are proud of it.
But right now school 63 is in crisis. We can no longer allow it to fail our students over and over again. It’s a disservice to our children and our community, and I am very disappointed in IPS for not addressing these problems sooner.
But now there is a new opportunity. Matchbook Learning has offered a way to reinvigorate school 63 and bring a change to the traditional educational approach. They plan to focus on each individual child and develop a learning model that works specifically for that student.
I first went to informational meetings with Matchbook with a critical viewpoint. But I wanted to see what they had to offer.
I really liked their positive attitude and methods to engage students. They believe in bringing back arts and sports, student council, band and orchestra. Whatever tools they have at their disposal to interest and engage these children, they are determined to do.
Obviously, education is the most important aspect of any child’s school experience. And I truly believe that there are fantastic teachers in IPS and at Wendell Phillips who deserve our respect and admiration. But Matchbook is offering an opportunity—and the leadership—to turn school 63 around.
I also have full confidence in Amy Swann, who would serve as Principal of 63 if Matchbook is allowed to restart the school.
She has been forthright and honest and her commitment to creating a successful school is remarkable. I truly believe she wants to help our children, and that she will not rest until she takes Wendell Phillips from an F school to an A school.
Finally, I have been impressed with Matchbook’s efforts to get to know the people in and around the neighborhood and community. They are taking the time to get our input and want to become a part of the community—not something separate.
As an alumnus, I’m very thankful that IPS will not let the state take over school 63, and that Matchbook has committed to keeping the school’s name Wendell Phillips. Maintaining that name means something to me and others in our community.
What has happened in the past, we can’t let happen again. And I’m hopeful that Matchbook and their educational approach can bring positive results. Because we cannot allow the failures of the past to continue.