Curie centers on multi-cultural curriculum

November 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) Curie High School on the city's Southwest Side sets some high goals for the thousands of students who pass through its doors.

Its mission is to prepare all students for the diverse world community through a multi-cultural, technology based curriculum.

Curie High School is the second largest in the city with nearly 3,700 students. The majority live in the district, but some travel as far as eight miles to take advantage of the special career-oriented programs the school offers.

"It's about our kids, it's about our staff, it's about our programs and I'm very fortunate and excited to be the principal of such a great school," said Principal Phillip Perry. This philosophy is reflected in Curie High's 75-percent graduation rate. "We have three components that represent the magnet component of our school; we have the performing arts program, the vocational technology program and the International Baccalaureate program."

These programs are popular and the school receives 3,000 applications a year for around 300 spots. A citywide lottery determines which students are accepted.

About 70-percent of the student population is Hispanic, 18-percent African American students and 3-percent Asian American students. The majority of the student body is low income.

Sara Spachman has been teaching in Curie's English department for ten years and serving as Department Chairperson for the past three. Coming from a family of teachers, being an educator was the last thing she thought she wanted. "It was just an impossible job, in my opinion, why would you ever want to do anything like that, it was so hard and there were so few rewards, I didn't want to do that! I became a tutor in college and I realized this was something I was really good at and something I liked doing!" Spachman said.

"I love my English class! It's so easy, so you can focus on it more and keep up the pace," said Wendy Verjra, a student at Curie.

Another student, Mamoon Farrha, said, "I learn a lot from her, we learn a lot about grammar, about arguments, she's taught us so much, she's a great explainer and she's a really good teacher."

ABC7's Roz Varon assisted Ms. Spachman in teaching the class an argumentative essay. Varon said, "Even with a BA in Broadcast Journalism, I couldn't hold a candle to Ms. Spachman's connection with her students!"

However with all its successes, Curie, is not immune from the violence that has been affecting Chicago Public Schools.

Spachman said, "I've been very lucky in that none of my students have been killed, but so many of my students have had tragedy in their lives - just last week, the Tilden student who was killed was the brother of one of my freshmen."

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