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Chicago's New Efforts to Link Public Schools and Museums in Partnership

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 27, 1999

On Friday, October 29, Mayor Richard M. Daley and 1,800 members of the Chicago Public School system -- including 1,500 new teachers -- will launch an innovative partnership between the Chicago Public Schools and the Museums In the Park, a consortium of nine of the city's major museums. The special initiative is called MAPS (Museum and Public Schools): A New Direction for Teaching Chicago's Children, and it is being hailed as the kind of program that could become a model for school systems throughout the country.

For the October 29 kick-off event, 1,500 first-year teachers will come to The Field Museum to be introduced to new ideas in museum learning by museum educators, and to hear from veteran teachers and principals who have successfully used city museums for resources and inspiration. The day's activities include a welcome by Mayor Daley at 9:15 a.m., followed by an overview of MAPS by Chicago Public School officials. At about 9:30 a.m., all the teachers will participate in a community drumming ceremony geared to generate excitement and a feeling of shared purpose. Later, the new teachers will attend workshops to learn how to incorporate museum resources into the classroom.

Chicago museums participating in the MAPS initiative are member museums of the consortium, Museums in the Park (so named because all are located on Chicago Park District land). They are: The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, The Chicago Historical Society, The DuSable Museum of African American History, The Field Museum, The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, and The John G. Shedd Aquarium.

The tailor-made MAPS curriculum began development over a six-week period last summer by teachers, curriculum specialists and museum educators. It includes interdisciplinary lesson plans in the language arts, math, science and social studies. The lessons lead up to and include museum visits. The curriculum is aligned with the Illinois State Learning Goals and the Chicago Academic Standards. During this school year, 200 Chicago Public School teachers will receive the initiative's entire curriculum packet, geared for grades three through six.

Each teacher involved in the MAPS initiative will also receive an annual membership and free admission to the nine Museums in the Park. They will receive invitations to workshops and new exhibits, and monthly museum newsletters. The teachers will be offered continuing training sessions, and they will receive a list of educational materials that they can take out on loan from the nine museums.

The Chicago Public Schools contributes $800,000 to the MAPS program. The nine museums provide a total of $200,000, plus the free memberships for teachers. Another contributor is Brandtjen & Kluge, a Wisconsin firm that donated embossed folders worth $25,000.

About Chicago Public Schools

The Chicago Public Schools is the nation's third-largest school district and the second-largest employer in Illinois, with 45,000 employees. The school system operates 591 schools and serves more than 431,000 students.



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