By SAM RAPPAPORT
As it heads into its third year, Chicago Free School is looking to expand enrollment and hire an additional full-time middle school teacher, according to school founder Lauren Beitler.
Chicago Free School finished up the school year with 53 students enrolled. Beitler said she hopes that enrollment grows to 60 students by the fall.
Chicago Free School, which is housed within KAM Isaiah Israel, 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd., is a private, democratically run school with a focus on hands-on learning that caters to students from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade.
The decision to hire a new middle school teacher reflects Beitler’s desire to expand Chicago Free School’s programming for older students.
“In our second year, we’ve used a mixed-age model because our enrollment in the upper grades is not yet as high as in grades Pre-K through 3rd,” Beitler said. “As we grow, we’ve decided that now is the time to expand our staff so that we can have more programming options for middle school students.”
Beitler said the school’s hiring committee is looking for a teacher especially mindful of the students’ questions and curiosity.
In adding an extra faculty member, Beitler hopes to expand the school’s opportunities for project-based learning, field trips and research projects.
Beitler said she expects the school to continue to grow every year.
“We’re never going to be a huge school because we want to maintain that family atmosphere,” Beitler said. “But we will keep growing a little bit every year.”
Chicago Free School’s sliding scale tuition, according to Beitler, has enabled the school to draw from a more diverse family base than most traditional private institutions.
The school assesses income to determine each family’s expected contribution. While the average tuition is about $6,000, family contributions range from $1,500 to $12,000.
“We have attracted a lot of families that would not otherwise be able to afford private schools,” Beitler said.
Beitler will hold an information session for interested families on July 16, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., at KAM Isaiah Israel. During the session, Beitler will speak about the Chicago Free School program and curriculum and address any questions regarding the admissions process.
For more information on Chicago Free School and to apply for enrollment, visit chicagofreeschool.org.