School Makeover Case Study: Frazier International Magnet School
When we deliver a School Makeover™ program our first priority is to find a great school to partner with on the project. This School Makeover Case Study is an example of a “great school;” a school that exceeds expectations in a demanding educational environment, or one which is trying an innovative approach to education that challenges some of the current norms. In either case, we look for schools that are getting results, and pushing education as a whole forward.
This School Makeover Case Study comes from a Chicago neighborhood Martin Luther King Jr. described as “plagued with liquor stores and abandoned buildings,” and it’s still like that today. When the current leadership and instruction model took over Frazier International Magnet School, fewer than 50% of the children met or exceeded state standards. Each year that number has increased: 62% the first year, 83% the second year, and in 2012 it increased to 95% of the students meeting or exceeding the state standards. The district average for 2012 was 74% and the state average was 82%.
The school’s student body consists of 100% minority students, and more than 90% of students live at or below poverty. This school defies the “truism” that if you grow up in a poor neighborhood you receive a bad education. Some may say “Hey wait a minute, they are a Magnet school, they can draw students from anywhere in the city;” which is true. However it is also true that 100% of the students come from the local neighborhood. 100% of the students who visit the school from other neighborhoods do not end up attending the school, despite its remarkable academic success with its students. The description given above by Martin Luther King Jr. accurately describes the buildings directly across the street from the school, around the corner, and for the next 10 to 20 blocks in any direction.
School Makeover™ infused Frazier with a huge boost and a welcome reward. We painted all of the walls from a dull, government issue green, to a bright blue color that matched their school colors. We transformed the gym from government issue beige/brown into a bright fun play space. We added padding in the gym to help protect the children from outdated infrastructure left over from the 60s. We insulated a wonderful peace garden the students had built with a trellis that blocked out the neighborhood and allows visitors to take in the joy and beauty they have constructed here.
We painted ceiling tiles in wonderful fun shapes and colors and replaced old beige/white panels, bringing the classroom to life from a totally new dimension. We also added new custom doors to existing lockers inside the classrooms left over from the original 60s construction. It made a distracting pile of children belongings and old grey lockers into a colorful mural themed for each classroom. We also added a play structure that is 100% accessible to all students. It encourages the active and free play of music and mental games in a playground setting. We painted every classroom with a fresh coat of paint selected by the teacher so when they returned the next day it was to a bright and beautiful classroom customized to their theme.
In this School Makeover Case Study there were dozens of other projects we completed; all in 2 hours, with some minor post-event help from professional contractors just to make sure everything was perfect. As a whole the school was transformed, and the legacy of our client lives on in the hearts and minds of all those in the community who attended the event, and all of the children who are and will attend Frazier.