Schools' partnership is a step toward answering need for minority teachers

Schools' partnership is a step toward answering need for minority teachers
August 7, 2007

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

A renowned Chicago resident once said that, “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” Oprah Winfrey may have been talking about Briana Holland. Holland, the daughter of Willie Sr. and Jean Holland of Chicago and a 2003 graduate of St. Ethelreda Elementary School, is the first student to take advantage of a unique partnership between Benedictine University in Lisle and the parochial grammar school on Chicago’s South Side. Benedictine University and St. Ethelreda formed a partnership a few years ago that would allow St. Ethelreda students to experience a college atmosphere and improve their math and science skills. Meanwhile, Benedictine education students would have the opportunity to mentor the St. Ethelreda students. As part of this partnership, Benedictine University President William Carroll pledged that any St. Ethelreda student who graduated from eighth grade with a “B” or better average and maintained that average through high school would be given a four-year scholarship to Benedictine if they committed to a major in education. Armed with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship, Holland, who graduated from Mother McAuley High School in May, will begin her freshman year at Benedictine University this fall. Carroll hoped the scholarship offer would encourage minority students to pursue education as a career. “There is a serious shortage of minority teachers not only in Chicago, but throughout the country,” Carroll said. “We want to excite and educate young people in mathematics and the sciences and encourage them to share their enthusiasm and knowledge with others.” St. Ethelreda Parish was established in 1927 and served a predominately Irish congregation. The present church at 8754 S. Paulina St. was built in 1953 to accommodate a population that was booming following the end of World War II. As the city’s demographics shifted in the 1970s, St. Ethelreda welcomed a large influx of African-Americans. The Archdiocese of Chicago recently closed the church, but the elementary school remains open. St. Ethelreda Catholic Elementary School has more than 290 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Students from St. Ethelreda visit Benedictine University several times per year as part of a partnership between the two schools. Earlier in July, approximately 30 St. Ethelreda students participated in a program where they were mentored by adult students enrolled in Benedictine’s alternative teacher certification program for math and science teachers. The St. Ethelreda students employed problem-based learning techniques to solve real-life problems – from designing solar-powered cars to studying ecological issues – using mathematics and science. “Our partnership with St. Ethelreda is a win-win situation,” said James Pelech of the School of Education at Benedictine University. “Benedictine gets to reach out to real practioners and their students and St. Ethelreda is able to connect with a University. And our people really enjoy working with the St. Ethelreda students.”


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.