One of only five CPS elementary schools where every child meets or exceeds state testing standards, Keller benefits from having whip-smart students. But as Keller’s principal, Delena Little, points out, that only means the children are hungry for more: “The expectation is that they can get to a higher level of synthesizing knowledge,” she says.
That’s not to say the school is a grind. Serving only 244 students, Keller has a family atmosphere. Many parents walk their kids into school throughout the year, and teachers get to know all the students, not just the ones in their classes. “We’re the second parent,” Little says. “You’re giving us your child for eight years. It works better if everyone is collaborating.”
Keller does suffer from CPS’s typically large class sizes—29 students per class in first grade. To compensate, Little reports, teachers here extended the school day long before Mayor Emanuel’s mandate by routinely—and voluntarily—giving up their lunch breaks for personalized tutoring.
Photograph: Katrina Wittkamp