Mothers’ dream for Glade Park school a reality
By EMILY ANDERSON
It started with play dates.
Glade Park mothers Tree Humbert, Diane Branham and Karyn Bechtell would huddle with their babies and discuss how they wanted to educate them when they reached school age.
“We wanted all of the children in this area to grow up and go to school here and be stewards of this place,” Humbert said.
That was four years ago. The mothers shared their idea with Karen Foster, a Glade Park resident who tried two decades ago to reopen a school on Glade Park. A school there had closed in 1971.
Foster suggested the women share their idea with School District 51. In 2007, the four women began attending school board meetings. The board asked them where the school could go. They found an anonymous land donor. The board asked how many students would participate. The women hosted community meetings and sent letters to everyone in Glade Park.
“I think our tenacity really kept us going,” Humbert said.
In 2008, the tenacity paid off, and School District 51 agreed to open the Glade Park Community School. The school district will pay the school’s utility bill, provide basic materials and pay the salary of a teacher — Humbert — and an assistant. Ed Cherry donated land at 16250 DS Road, where an avocado-green modular unit will serve as the school for two years. Another man donated the modular unit. A permanent structure will be built on land provided by an anonymous donor about a mile west of the temporary school.
The school is in the process of establishing a nonprofit organization called On the Park. Donations will help the school provide enrichment programs before and after school and assist students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. All other students will bring a sack lunch to school during the two years in the temporary building.
The school will start with 15 to 20 kindergarten through second-grade students, most of them from Glade Park but a couple from the Grand Valley. It will add a grade each year through fifth grade.
School will be in session from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Aside from getting an offer it couldn’t refuse to share costs, District 51 decided to go ahead with the school because it would serve the growing population of youngsters on Glade Park and provide the opportunity to have an alternative form of education, said Lesley Witacre, director of elementary schools.
Students will follow District 51 educational guidelines, but the curriculum will be hands-on and incorporate wildlife, people, and plants within a five-mile radius of the school, and sometimes beyond it.
“The attraction was: Any time we can give families a choice and expand from the typical elementary school, we want to do so,” Witacre said.