EDITORíS DESK: Whittier is turning things around
Don't look now, but something special is happening at Whittier Elementary.
The century-old school that has been on the District 11 school-closure chopping block twice in the past five years is starting to show the kind of self-sufficiency that Board of Education members indicated they were looking for when they decided last spring to give Whittier and a few other under-enrolled, low-income, low-performing schools a little more time. "That's where it rests, with the schools," Board President Sandy Shakes told this newspaper back then. "They can wring their hands or... they can pull it together."
The key for Whittier seems to be nurturing a connection with the surrounding community - not just "school people." A tireless local volunteer revealed, off the record, that she has offered to help at other Westside schools and never received any encouragement. At Whittier, however, Principal Marlys Berg is welcoming her and others with open arms, and this clearly is making a difference.
The biggest assistance for Whittier of late is coming from the Paradis family. They have helped establish a Community Leaders Reading Program, which will bring the likes of Sheriff Terry Maketa and State Senator Ed Jones in to read, and are focusing on bolstering science programs and other areas. Sadly, a tragedy is partly behind this burst of energy. Perhaps we'll have more on that in a future issue.