Doug Ruther discusses plans with student

Ribbon Cutting for Ellen Glasser Global Center at Sullivan High School

mike sarah 053119Background: A few years ago I got involved in our neighborhood high school, Sullivan High, as, after years of failure and near closure, its new Principal, Chad Adams launched an incredible turn around of the school. The Rogers Park Builders Group successfully raised funds supporting important initiatives - in time, Principal Adams asked me if I would help create and chair a “Friends of Sullivan” organization, tasked with raising funds for specific academic, cultural and athletics needs, which we do..

In May, 2017, Chicago Magazine brought attention to the influx of refugee/immigrant students - check out this WTTW video  (if you are limited in time, go to 5:48), or read the amazing Chicago Magazine article: Welcome to Refugee High, written by journalist Elly Fishman. Nearly 40% of the student body were born outside of the US, and well over 40 languages are spoken.

The refugee and immigrant students gravitated to the former library as a place to lounge, and engage in small group work. Students often felt that this room offered them a “safe space” to get away from the stress of conforming to an unfamiliar new environment, and the English Learning program conducted small group and individual work in the room. There has been no librarian on staff for many years, and the library itself was worn, with assorted unmatched older furniture - in short, the room was in major need of a facelift, which, English Learning Director, Sarah Quintenz and Principal Adams asked Friends of Sullivan to implement.

Using the $35,000 that we raised, and a bit of sweat equity by generous volunteers, including student volunteers, the room is transformed - new carpeting, wonderful state of the art furniture - nothing dramatic - but hugely different and impactful.

Most significant, the room offers the students using it a sense of dignity and respect - and it makes a difference.

Ellen Glasser teaching nutrition at Michael Reese Hospital - circa 1950In the early phases of the fundraising, I suggested that we consider naming the new room after my Mom, Ellen (Meyer) Glasser, herself an immigrant and a sure role model for today’s students - and then, in time, let the idea go. Only at our last Board meeting three weeks ago did my Board colleagues and Principal Adams insist we name the room in her memory - with my voice cracking in emotion, incapable of objecting - so the “Ellen Glasser Global Center” was born. (My brother Ralph, the true ‘punster” in the family - came up with the moniker “The EGG Center.” Like a frying pan with no oil or butter, we’ll see if it sticks! (Direct further puns to Ralph!))

What a coincidence that this celebration will occur on June 17th - her 31st yahrzeit (anniversary of the day we lost her to the scourge of cancer.)

SAVE THE DATE: Monday, June 17th, 10:30AM - 11:30AM - 6631 N. Bosworth