More than money

When Lorraine Cruz walks into Ames Middle School each morning, she passes through metal detectors and an X-ray machine, devices that serve as a reminder of the situation she walked into when she became Ames’ principal in the summer of 2004. When her predecessor left, half of the teachers also took flight. “There was a big disconnect between the teachers and the students,” said Cruz, the fourth principal at Ames, which opened in 1998. Of the school’s nearly 400 eighth-graders, 125 were enrolled in the summer school program. Other area schools had just five or six students in summer school, she said.

Investing Early

It’s only 9 a.m., but Debra List’s preschool class is already in high gear. About 20 three- and four-year-olds dash about in their summer school room, bouncing from one friend to the next, climbing on chairs and hauling toys from one play area to another. As if by magic, List quickly gathers the giggly group onto the carpet in front of an oversized easel. She asks the children what animals they think they might see the next day on a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. She then draws the animals on the large pad on the easel.