Woodlawn Community School History


The Woodlawn Community School, one of a number of schools authorized by the Chicago Public Schools System in 1996, was founded by the Woodlawn Development Associates on the principle that we need to create a new kind of partnership in which both communities contribute directly to the strengthening and development of each other. The Woodlawn Community School started with the belief by board members of WDA that they had a responsibility to the children of Woodlawn to help them (the children) develop a strong positive sense of themselves, to recognize themselves as important and contributing members of the community and to know with certainty that members of the community were concerned and cared about them.

These WDA board members believed that if their efforts were successful, the children, as they grew would in turn begin to develop a strong sense of community , and would contribute to the growth and improvement of the quality of life not only in Woodlawn but thoughout the city of Chicago.

This belief began to take form in October 1995 when WDA board members learned about the Chicago Public Schools invitation to schools, teachers, community organizations, institutions and others to submit proposals to create small schools.

A steering committee of interested members was formed and community meetings were held where parents and others were intvited to talk about their concerns about education and encouraged to envision the kind of school they would like for their children.

The steering committee drafted a proposal based on the ideas expressed at the community meetings and on discussions held with educators and other interested citizens.

The proposal was submitted to CPS in January of 1996. In February of 1996, WDA was informed that their proposal has been accepted. A letter announcing the acceptance, signed by Paul Vallas, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, stated in part…

All who reviewed your proposal applaud your goal of opening a quality small school in… Woodlawn… [We] were impressed the depth of community and institutional support that the idea has generated.

Following the CPS announcement, the work of creating a small school in Woodlawn began. It was the beginning of turning a vision into reality, of creating a school from “the inside out.” Space was located in the sothern wing of Wadsworth Elementary School, thanks to the Wadsworth principal Dr. Milton Albritton. A principal for WCS, Dr. Errol Frank was appointed. Teachers were interviewed and hired. Supplies were ordered. A community-wide campaign to recruit students was designed and carried out. Parents were talked to, day care centers were contacted and finally, children were enrolled. In September 1996, the doors of Woodlawn Community School were opened — and a new small school in Woodlawn had come into being.


Our Vision-Mission-Philosophy

Woodlawn’s educational philosophy is based on the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Virtues of Ma’at and the Nguzo Saba, or the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. The virtues are also the foundation of our school rules:  Respect self. Respect others. Respect the environment.

Our Vision

To develop in our children, academic excellence in Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Technology use. To develop an integrated curriculum that fosters a strong sense of self through an African-centered curriculum, Responsive Classroom, and the Cultural Arts.

Our Mission

To continue a strong sense of school community through increased parental involvement and enhanced partnerships in the Woodlawn community and beyond.

At Woodlawn Community School (WCS), we provide a nurturing environment of trust, ownership, and belonging to our home-school-community partnership. Our African-centered curriculum is child-centered, and developmentally appropriate, for, it enables each student to experience success and have access to current informational technology on a daily basis, .

Woodlawn children learn to define, create a range of opportunities for, and speak for themselves. The Woodlawn Community School has high social and academic expectations for each student.