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Every Child Deserves a Great School (and Community)

In October 2013, Dr. Megahed was honored to provide the keynote address at Reading Power's 10th anniversary celebration. Dr. Megahed was selected as the keynote speaker because of NLU’s strong reputation for preparing future teachers for the classroom, particularly those in urban environments. This column reflects the thoughts that Dr. Megahed shared at the Reading Power event.

by Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., National Louis University President

Regardless of ideology, it is fair to say that there is a shared belief that all children should have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community supports. Great schools and communities foster a vibrant economy, improve bio/psycho/social and community functioning and engagement, stimulate healthier communities, and promote democracy and a just world. Access to and support of great schools prepares our children to attain an excellent education and successfully transition from high school to college and a productive and fulfilling life. Accordingly, this is not only the right thing to do if you believe in the pursuit of a just and equitable world, but it is right if you believe that we must invest in the economic engine of our future. 

While we may all start with this common belief, as we move to operationalize achieving this outcome, the narrative becomes contentious. In our pursuit to find a solution, we oversimplify the issues that shape the landscape and subsequently resort to blaming stakeholders for the lack of progress. For example, teachers, school leaders, poverty, education schools, parents, and kids themselves have been blamed for the performance of schools – particularly when each has been viewed as the singular panacea that can remedy the ills of school systems. But the truth is that the need to build and support great schools is a complex problem that requires integrated and flexible solutions.

The Child as the Core and the School as the Center

In order to foster positive, transformative change we must position the education, health and well-being of children at the core of all efforts and great schools must be at the center. There must be shared responsibility in the service of student success. The greatest influence on the child is the family, and the greatest influence on the family is the community, so supporting students includes strengthening families. Schools should seek partnerships with universities and community based organizations to address issues that impact learning. Schools must connect to the communities, and parents must be engaged as supporters, teachers, and learners. Strong community schools are needed in all communities of all socio-economic status. Parents and communities must be included in determining needs and also need to develop capacity for self-help. 

For more than 127 years, National Louis University has been committed to collaboration and commitment to communities in the service of creating positive change. Fundamentally, we have believed that change comes from a community level. Because of our seminal focus on education, we have been big proponents of a schools-community model emphasis which involves a shared commitment from multiple stakeholders to see that ALL children in the community succeed.

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    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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