July 17, 2019
Researching and selecting the best school for your child is a stressful process for any parent. Chicago school systems are more complex than in many other parts of the country, making the process even more challenging. This can be especially difficult for people who didn’t grow up in the Chicago area and aren’t familiar with the various public school options available, from neighborhood to charter to magnet and more.
Enter Duane Davis, UChicago’s new “Faculty CPS Whisperer,” as he refers to himself. Davis’s actual title is Chicago Director of the My Very Own Library program in the Office of the President, but he holds a dual appointment coordinating K-12 programs in the Office of the Provost. Davis’s role was created at the request of the faculty-led K-12 working group.
“If a UChicago faculty member is researching schools for his or her child, I’m the person who can give them the lay of the land,” Davis explained.
A leader in K-12 education, Davis has taught at and consulted with numerous organizations in and around Chicago, and estimates that he’s visited 200+ Chicago schools over the years. He spent his early years as a teacher and now teaches, coaches, and supports current and future educators. Davis is also currently pursuing a PhD in Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As part of Davis’s outreach, he’s connecting with incoming new faculty to help them learn about different K-12 options as they prepare to transition to the University later this year. Davis is also mapping various K-12 initiatives in order to offer broader support to all UChicago faculty, and meeting with current faculty who have children in CPS to create a network where faculty can share their experiences with their peers.
One such CPS parent is David W. Miller, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College. A Chicago native and CPS alum, Miller and his wife chose to enroll their daughter in Bret Harte Elementary School, a CPS math and science magnet cluster school located in Hyde Park. Miller encourages UChicago faculty to connect with Davis and learn about the many educational options available to their families, particularly through CPS.
“My daughter has had a great experience. She’s in an upper reading level and absolutely loves it. We plan to send our younger son to the same school,” Miller said. “We love the community atmosphere that our local school offers, in addition to providing a great education to our child, all at a fraction of the cost of some other schooling options. I think there’s a lack of information that currently exists about CPS, so it’s great that UChicago is making information about different options available to faculty.”
Whether faculty are interested in public or private schools for their children, Davis can assist them with the process.
“Education for your child is a very personal choice,” Davis said. “It’s important to think about what you want for your family and for your child. Once you have decided on that, reach out! I’m happy to meet with you to share information and help identify options that best fit your needs.”
Faculty interested in connecting with Davis may e-mail him at K12options@uchicago.edu.