No, they are not changing the name. Haven Middle School will still be Haven Middle School.
But the leaders at Evanston/Skokie District 65 are hoping that a visual makeover, as well as some new staff members and even a new attitude will help turn the system’s largest school (800+ students) into a place where the word “troubled” is not always included when the facility is mentioned.
On Monday, Assistant Superintendent Angel Turner told the school board’s Curriculum and Policy Committee how the administration plans to “restore, repair and rebuild” a school that had more than its fair share of problems last year.
From the noose incident to a teacher being bowled over by a student when she went to check out a commotion, Haven may not have seemed like a haven at all.
At the committee meeting, Turner showed photos of brightly painted hallways and lockers, new signs and upgraded lighting.
Of course, while all of District 65’s buildings received improvements over the summer, Turner said there were “some things we needed to do over” when it came to Haven.
For example, there were “places where it was dark,” not exactly conducive to student safety or even just a positive mood.
Those dark corners are now gone, replaced, Turner said, with “a warm and welcoming environment.”
Haven will also be home base for four FACE liasons. FACE stands for Family and Community Engagement, staff members who can reach out to help parents, guardians, and students who may be experiencing personal or academic challenges.
While the FACE staffers may help out other schools as well, Haven is seen as where the need is greatest right now.
Superintendent Devon Horton said, “They’re at Haven now because of all the issues there.”
Board member Biz Lindsay-Ryan asked if any of the FACE employees are bilingual.
“No,” was the answer.
But, District 65 did bring on a bilingual assistant principal at Haven, Elisa Lopez, who “connected with the families” at a recent back-to-school picnic, Turner said.
And Horton added, “We’ve been extremely cognizant in hiring,” trying to meet the school system’s various needs.
Classes at Haven and the other District 65 K-8 schools start on Wednesday.
While a coat of fresh paint may not cover the ongoing and underlying problems Haven has faced, school leaders hope it will symbolize a new day, which may take more than a few days to sink in.
“We’re not perfect,” Turner said.
“We’re asking folks to give us patience and grace.”
Keep sending these amazing 65 teachers and admin our way we will gladly take them. Your staff is not leaving teaching they are moving to to Skokie and Glenview and we will take them. Do better district 65.
‘Not perfect’ and ‘Give us Grace’. Seriously?! There is no excuse for the disfunction at Haven. It has been a problem for years and reflects the school board and administration’s lack of thought and care.
The fact that the town of Evanston allows this school board and this deceitful superintendent to continue is an absolute joke. HOODWINKED and SMOKE AND MIRRORS, pretty much sum up District 65 in a nutshell. Our poor, poor kids…
Do you really think painting the interior school walls brighter colors and improving the student lockers will eliminate the “problems” Haven has experienced, especially last year? What teacher would want to teach in a school, let alone a middle school, where they are disrespected and physically abused by some students? We need to support the teachers and find ways to improve civility among all students and hope parents of those “difficult students” assist with those efforts.
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