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Volunteers lend a hand along Safe Passage routes

SOE-Dantley-walk

Michael Dantley, dean of Loyola’s School of Education, helps a student on a Safe Passage route at McCutcheon Elementary School.

As the dean of Loyola’s School of Education, Michael Dantley knows the value of a safe learning environment. That’s why he helped students along a Safe Passage route on the first day of school outside McCutcheon Elementary School in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

After the Chicago Board of Education voted earlier this year to shut dozens of public schools across the city, officials created the routes as a safe haven for students who now will have to walk farther to get to school—and possibly through gang territory.

Dantley, who was joined by more than a dozen faculty and staff members from the School of Education, said Loyola has a long-standing relationship with McCutcheon, which made the volunteer effort an easy decision.

“We’re doing this to show our commitment to the students and families we’ve worked with through the years, and to demonstrate the importance of the first day of school as setting the stage for the rest of the school year,” Dantley said. “Every student should feel safe in school.”

Dantley and company weren’t the only Loyolans helping students return to school.

About 50 people from Loyola’s Education Law and Policy Institute and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law volunteered on the first two days of school to assist students who were displaced by the closings.

Their goal? To help the families of children who are attending a new school and to ensure that the students have access to a quality education.

“Our intention is to lend our legal expertise to assist in identifying issues early so they might be resolved,” wrote members of the monitoring project in a letter to Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools, in August.

Visit the School of Education website to learn more about Loyola’s programs and its work with the community. And visit the Education Law and Policy Institute website to learn about its mission and programs.

Photo by Mark Beane

Ibie Hart, a first-year law student at Loyola, hands out information outside Courtenay Elementary School in Uptown.