My name is Kathy Zerega. I am a lifelong resident of Chicago and today I live in the city with my husband and our daughter, Sophia. Sophia just finished 2nd grade at CICS Irving Park and is so excited to start 3rd grade in the fall!
I am grateful that Sophia is receiving a high quality education at a school she enjoys. I know this is not the case for many students in the city of Chicago. As a CPS graduate myself, I’m familiar with the shortcomings that exist in the traditional public school system. When I attended school, I always felt something was missing. I didn’t feel supported, challenged or cared for. I knew when I had Sophia that I wanted better for her. I wanted a school that would shape her future.
CICS Irving Park has been a blessing to my family. It’s not just a school building – it’s a community. I like to say that I have my Irving Park “family” along with my immediate family. No matter whom you speak to at the school, whether it is a teacher, administrator or another parent, everyone knows your name and your child’s name. Recently, when my husband was at the school to pick up Sophia, he approached Mr. Keebler, the Assistant Principal, to ask him a question. Before my husband could even introduce himself, Mr. Keebler looked at him and said, “Hi! You’re Sophia’s father. It’s great to see you!” My husband was astonished. He is not often at the school, and yet the Assistant Principal knew who he was, who his daughter was and was courteous enough to strike up a conversation. This is the type of respect and commitment that parents expect and deserve from their child’s school.
The sense of community is so delightful, but I am more impressed by the academics. Sophia is a high performing student and she is always being pushed to exceed expectations. Her teachers consistently communicate her progress to me and identify ways I can reinforce her learning at home. They are quick to identify challenges and support Sophia to overcome them. A few months ago, Sophia earned her allowance, and she immediately put it all into her self-made “piggy bank.” This was the first time I had seen her do this so I asked her about it, and she told me, “At school, we learned the difference between needs and wants. I am saving this money for a need.” I was so impressed. She is receiving a holistic education at Irving Park, learning to be both a good student and a responsible citizen.
Despite Sophia still being in elementary school, Irving Park is committed to her academic future. The classrooms are named after universities and students are consistently reminded of their graduation year – college graduation year, that is. For Irving Park, they are committed to ensuring college is not a dream, but a plan for all their students.
I am overjoyed that Sophia is lucky enough to attend CICS Irving Park. My husband and I are also thankful to be part of such a welcoming community. Between the strong PTO, appreciative administrators and passionate teachers, Irving Park is everything and more that a great school can offer.