Back to school means back to normal at Mount Greenwood schools
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com September 19, 2012 11:10AM
Kindergarten teacher Meghan Meyrer greets students with two thumbs up as they wait to enter Sutherland Elementary School in Chicago on Sept. 19, 2012. This was the first day back to school after the teachers were on strike. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:41PM
On the first day back to school after the end of the Chicago teachers strike, Keller Regional Gifted Center Principal Delena Little stood outside the school’s front doors smiling and watching as the children walked inside.
“We’re just happy to have them back in school,” Little said.
The feeling was mutual for many parents who depend on the city’s schools to care for their children in addition to educating them while the parents go to work.
Kevin McReynolds’ daughter Kyla, a second-grader at Keller, 3020 W. 108th St., was in her dad’s care as he worked from home as a construction engineer during the strike, which canceled school for seven days.
It wasn’t always easy.
“She was enjoying her break, and spending time with her dad wasn’t a bad thing,” McReynolds said. “It made it hard for me to get work done.”
To make up for the lost class time, McReynolds said he made Kyla read for 1-1/2 hours every day, and he found some Internet-based tools to help teach her basic algebra and multiplication.
“I don’t know the particulars of why they went on strike, but I can say I’m glad it’s over,” McReynolds said.
Anna Morawski, of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge community, said it was hard for her 6-year-old son, Vincent, to start his first year at Keller and then go on a break. At the same time, Morawski said she understood the teachers’ position.
“Everyone wants their fair pay,” she said.
A stay-at-home mom, Morawski spent last week taking Vincent to the zoo and library, teaching him what she could and letting him play with friends.
“He’s back on schedule,” Morawski said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Michael Miller said he sympathized with the teachers. After all, his wife, Jalaimya, is a teacher and member of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Every morning during the strike, he and his third-grade daughter Madison dropped off Jalaimya at the picket line, then headed to Storehouse Evangelical Covenant Church, where he is a pastor.
“It was good the strike brought out issues,” Michael Miller said. “It was about working conditions and salary. It was a shame that it was politicized.”
At nearby Mount Greenwood Elementary School, 10841 S. Homan Ave., parents milled outside after dropping off their children, reflecting on the past week.
Debbie and Tom Haran, whose children Tommy and Katie attend the school, said they supported the teachers. They also said they were able to take care of their children by flipping around their work schedules. She works as a nurse, and he is a Chicago firefighter.
“The teachers’ work environment is our children’s work environment,” Debbie Haran said.
Becky Malone, a crossing guard at the school as well as a member of the 19th Ward Parents organization, also stood up for the teachers.
Malone said she walked the picket line along with her two boys — second-grader Kevin and fourth-grader Patrick.
“It was a good civics lesson,” Malone said. “It’s about making politicians accountable to the people who live and work in the city.”