Equal Opportunity Education

It’s a well-known fact that a solid educational foundation can do wonders for a child as he or she forges their path in the future. It’s also been established that money can buy a much better education and therefore, much better chances at a great future for children, too. Low income children from underprivileged neighborhoods and communities face day to day challenges that shouldn’t compromise their futures but almost invariably does. With the right tools, much can be done to salvage the potentials these children represent. Take a peek at the work the Cristo Rey Network of Schools is doing for this under served population.

A Talented Pool

First, the Cristo Rey Network brings together a diverse group of talented, driven people to staff its Board of Directors from various professions to advise and guide the 37 different Cristo Rey schools spread across 24 states. Diana Spencer is the executive director of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund in Chicago, IL. Expeditors International Senior Vice President Jose Ubeda and Plasticpak Holdings, Inc. CEO and President William C. Young join her. Patrick James Trico Group, LLC CEO chairs their post-secondary education committee. Jane E. Genster, former President and CEO of the Cristo Rey Network, still serves to lend the expertise that led to opening six new schools during her tenure. Several acting presidents from various Cristo Rey schools serve, including Michael Khoury from Detroit, MI, Sr. Maryalyce Gilfeather of Lawrence, MA and Preston Kendall of Waukegan, IL.

The Cristo Rey Difference

What makes Cristo Rey high schools so different and how do they consistently turn out high-performing graduates? First, Cristo Rey high schools embrace the reality that, through no fault of their own, the students that enroll as freshmen are typically two years behind their peers academically simply because of the lack of resources and funding at the low-income schools from which they originate. While cramming six years of education into four isn’t ideal, it’s accomplishable because of the dedication and teamwork of the board, the staff and the students themselves.

Yes, particular emphasis is placed on academics. All schools utilize a curriculum specifically designed to prepare their students to succeed in college. Each student receives instruction in the four major high school subjects of English Language, Math, Social Studies and Science as well as world languages, religion and a few available electives. Good study habits join a life-long learner approach and critical thinking skills to help students prepare well for life beyond college also.

One of the key differences in preparing their students for real life comes via Cristo Rey’s incorporation of “professional work experience through the Corporate Work Study Program.” Absent from most high school campuses is the recognition that striving towards good grades isn’t the real goal of education; preparing children for a future where they can become contributing members of society is. This opens up children’s awareness of the possibilities in the world around them so they can effectively plan to fulfill their dreams.

When low-income students are given the tools and opportunity to get a good education, the promise of a brighter future can become a reality for them.

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