Buffalo Grove resident set to lead new Chicago private school
Buffalo Grove resident Miriam Pike shows off a classroom in the new Wolcott School, located in Chicago. Pike is set to be the first head of school when it opens this fall. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:27AM
The roadblock between a student and that student doing well in school may be something as simple as time management.
This fall, a Buffalo Grove resident will become the leader of a Chicago private school that aims to teach its students learning habits for improved concentration.
Miriam Pike will serve as the first head of school at Wolcott School, an independent college prep for high schoolers with learning disabilities. Wolcott is scheduled to open in September on Chicago’s near northwest side, and will teach students with language-based challenges.
Pike envisions a small school — about 40 students per grade level — and Wolcott is currently accepting applications only for freshmen and sophomores. The school will hold an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. March 10 at its building, 524 N. Wolcott Ave., Chicago.
Though the school has yet to open, Pike already offered visions of Wolcott’s first graduation ceremony.
Q: What kinds of disabilities will Wolcott specialize in?
A: Some of them have challenges in reading. We choose not to emphasize the disability part because, when they’re in the right environment, they find that they can do what other kids can. In other settings, they have to spend so much time relearning. In careers, we don’t go for the things that are the most difficult for us, we go for the things that are easiest for us. Some of the kids won’t have any type of diagnosis or condition, but some of what we will serve are dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. We will teach life skills to help them function better in the classrooms, like time management.
Q: Time management?
A: What’s so interesting about it is that people have to be willing to try some strategies and techniques. It may start with getting the math homework done, or managing a calendar. Keep it small to start with. We focus on the process as much as the content. Our goal is that by the time they leave, everyone’s going to use their own strategies, not just the one everyone else is using.
Q: Speaking of your goals, how will you measure if you are succeeding?
A: Our plan is for every kid to be in college, if they want to go there. And to be prepared to be successful there. The study skills, the problem-solving skills, how they allocate resources so they can balance tier independence with seeking the help they will need from time to time.
Q: How did you get into Wolcott?
A: I had heard about the school a couple years ago, a colleague of mine told me about it. At that point, I was the chairperson of special education at Deerfield High School. Last year, another professional contacted me, and said they’re really doing it. I found out about the position, and I applied. They had a national search, and it turned out that I was right here the whole time.
Q: Will a school this small, and specialized, have extracurricular activities?
A: We have a full curriculum of courses, by day. Obviously, we’re a small school, so we can’t have all the things Stevenson has. But they have to be involved with at least one thing. Oftentimes, kids learn wonderful things in the extracurriculars. The kids will have some input into what they will be.
Q: Can you see the first Wolcott graduation yet?
A: I think about it every day, when I’m working like crazy, doing all the work that’s involved in starting up a school. We will be such a wonderful, close-knit community. When they graduate, that’s going to be a big deal.