Meet the Schreibers: A Family on a Mission

Meet the Schreibers: A Family on a Mission

The pastor of St. John Berchmans in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood knew his school could expect financial help when John and Kathy Schreiber signed on as Patrons through Big Shoulders Fund. But early on, it became clear the Schreiber family would bring much more to the relationship, especially one Saturday when John appeared with several of the couple’s eight adult children to paint the school.Schrieber Children

“All of the children have supported the work we’re doing here,” said Father Wayne Watts, pastor of the church. “I pick up my phone and I say I need X, and I can pretty much believe X will be delivered by the Schreibers—whether that be their time, their treasure, or their advice.”

With his long record of success in commercial real estate, John Schreiber has offered business advice and served as a sounding board to help Father Watts make strategic decisions about how to turn around the school. While the family didn’t finish all the painting work that first Saturday, one son later sent a crew to finish it up. Another daughter organized her alumni group to clean the school. One son helped with marketing; another became a mentor to a struggling student. Daughter Heather Sannes became head of St. John Berchmans’ school board, which also counted sons Michael and Nicholas Schreiber as members at one time or another.

In 2005, a year before the Schreibers became Patrons, St. John Berchmans made headlines—and not in a good way. It landed on the short list of schools slated for closure. Parishioners at the time rallied and convinced the Archdiocese to give the school a second chance. Father Watts and his newly hired principal, Peggy Roketenetz, knew they needed to hit the reset button to combat the negative buzz. But with a shoestring budget, they had few resources to improve the school grounds or add programming that would attract young families.

Kathy and John Schreiber

“The Schreibers came in and we did all of those things,” Father Watts said. After making physical improvements to the building and grounds, the family funded a part-time marketing person, who helped to change the school’s image. St. John Berchmans also was able to hire a full-time art teacher and a gym teacher.

“We couldn’t have dreamed of hiring an art teacher or putting new technology in the school,” remarked Roketenetz, whom Father Watts plucked from the congregation to help lead the school turnaround. “They allowed us to really enrich our academic and physical environment to attract new families and build who we were—and are.”

Enrollment nearly doubled, from 137 students to about 260. Though their official patron term is now over, the Schreibers maintain a close connection with the school and with Father Watts, who officiates at family weddings.

After seeing the impact they were able to make at St. John Berchmans, the Schreibers asked to extend the Big Shoulders Fund Patrons Program to a school closer to their home in Lake County, Most Blessed Trinity in Waukegan. Heather is now chairing the board there.

For John Schreiber, the reward for these efforts comes when he hears success stories like that of one scholar from Most Blessed Trinity, who then went on to Loyola Academy, which the family also supports. She seized the opportunities given her, emerging as a leader on both campuses. She earned a full scholarship to Saint Louis University. “She’s going to be a success at SLU like she was at Loyola, and like she was at Most Blessed Trinity. That’s hugely satisfying,” John said. “You open the first door, and there’s a chance to open a second, and a chance to open a third, which is awesome when you think of where the children came from.”

Daughter Heather agreed: “Big Shoulders Fund is helping open those doors.”

Teacher Development Program Application Now Available – Deadline June 17th!

Teacher Development Program Application Now Available – Deadline June 17th!

Studying to become a teacher? Learn how the Teacher Development Program can help you finish your degree and support you in your first years in the classroom!

The Big Shoulders Fund Teacher Development Program (Big Shoulders TDP) recruits, prepares, and develops quality teachers to serve in Big Shoulders Fund schools. Big Shoulders TDP teachers are committed to three pillars that drive their work:community, excellence, and leadership.

The Big Shoulders TDP is a multi-year professional development program that offers a variety of supports specific to the candidate. In partnership with local universities – DePaul University and Loyola University at Chicago – Big Shoulders TDP provides tuition assistance, tutoring and clinical placement opportunities, and guidance on job selection. After graduation, a candidate will receive up to three years of customized coaching and professional development.

Currently, the Big Shoulders TDP supports pre-service teachers – two years from degree-completion – interested in pursuing an Illinois Professional Educator License and its associated endorsements, and in-service teachers in their first through third years in the classroom. The Big Shoulders TDP is actively recruiting pre-service teachers to participate, giving preference to those interested in focusing on STEM education.

Interested? Visit the Teacher Development Program page to learn more.

Extension Opportunities for former Brush Creek Ranch Students

Extension Opportunities for former Brush Creek Ranch Students

Check out these two fantastic extension opportunities for former Brush Creek students to apply for: an Action Research Mini-Grant and a Junior Counselor Position. Applications for both are due March 18, 2016.

 

Action Research Mini-Grant
Any current elementary student, who has attended Brush Creek in past years, is eligible to apply for an Action Research Mini-Grant. Students may receive up to $500 to design, launch, and implement an action research project that sustains the learning Brush Creek Ranch Science Enrichment experience. Projects that have received funding in the past include a school-wide recycling initiative, a coordinated neighborhood clean-up, and after-school science clubs.

 

Interested students must to the following:

  1. Identify a Teacher Mentor to advise and oversee the project.
  2. Confirm support from the school principal.
  3. Complete the BCR Action Research Project Application by March 18, 2016.

 

Junior Counselor Position (current 10th, 11th, and 12th graders preferred)

Former Brush Creek Ranch students who will be rising high school Juniors, Seniors, and graduates in the summer of 2016 (currently in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade) are eligible to apply for the Jr. Counselor Position, who will accompany students and chaperones during the one-week trip to Staddle Camp at Brush Creek Ranch. Rising sophomores may apply, but upper classmen will be given preference. Jr. Counselors will be responsible aiding the implementation of daily programming and support students as they complete various activities. All Jr. Counselors will be trained in CPR and First Aid prior to their trip. This application process is competitive with a limited number of Jr. Counselor positions available.

 

Interested students must:

  1. Be a former BCR scholar who is currently in grades: 10th, 11th, or 12th
  2. Be highly motivated, engaged, and exhibit leadership abilities.
  3. Be available to spend a week at Staddle Camp during Summer, 2016.
  4. Complete the BCR Jr. Counselor Application by March 18, 2016.

 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Eliza Bryant, Director, Academic Programs and Enrichment, at ebryant@bigshouldersfund.org.

Big Shoulders Fund Helps Transform Struggling Schools

Big Shoulders Fund Helps Transform Struggling Schools

“We simply wouldn’t be here without Big Shoulders,” said Denise Spells, principal at St. Ethelreda School on Chicago’s South Side. This is a constant refrain from principals at Big Shoulders Fund schools.

St. Ethelreda and six other schools faced challenging financial and operating conditions in serving their communities. In response, Big Shoulders Fund agreed to temporarily take on the majority financial responsibility for these schools during a three-year period, along with helping the schools to address key operating issues. Big Shoulders increased its commitment from seven to ten schools starting in the 2015-16 school year, and is working with these schools to improve in both the short and long-term.

See how the Covered Schools Initiative is transforming these schools.

National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month

This January is the 15th Annual National Mentoring Month, a campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults.Big Shoulders Fund is proud to celebrate all of our amazing mentors.

Some of our favorite mentors have shared with Big Shoulders why they love to mentor with our students!

Meet Amy Drozda who is Big Shoulders Fund’s Director of Corporate Partnership and Outreach. This is Amy’s first year as a mentor. She mentors at St. Ailbe School on Chicago’s South Side to 6th grade Gallagher Scholars.

Why did you choose to become a mentor?
St. Ailbe Gallagher ScholarI chose to become a mentor because after working at the Big Shoulders Fund for eight years and completing my MBA I wanted to use my time to work directly with our students.  I am lucky to support our mission by organizing service days, working with our schools leadership and helping our amazing supporters get involved, but I have never gotten to spend time with the students.   The students are always the highlight of my visits and I was hoping by mentoring I could share some of the many things my parents blessed me with and interact with the students who I wake-up every day for.

What is your favorite thing about mentoring?
My favorite thing about meeting with my mentees is hearing their stories and what they are excited about.  They are so observant and always want to share.

When I went on a field trip with them it was neat to see how excited they were that I had come to spend time with them.  It was amazing to share our favorite exhibits and experience something together.

Sometimes it is hard to realize you are making a difference or if the time you go matters, but it does.

This fall at the high school fair I was fortunate enough to meet one of my mentee’s parents. I always thought he didn’t want to be there and was just like, here is Ms. Amy again. However, when I met his mom and introduced myself she hugged me hard and said, “ Oh, you are his mentor.  He talks about you all the time and is so excited after your visits.”  The students touch my life so much. I only hope that I am helping them too.