The Skinner School Forum or PTO was formed in 1994 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to provide both monetary and parent-power/volunteer support to the school. Over the years, the PTO has successfully filled the school's funding gap by implementing numerous school activities, outreach efforts, and fundraising programs to provide:
Art, music, and drama programs
Classroom supplies and textbooks
School maintenance equipment and supplies
Support for teacher development
More recently, the PTO’s main operations have focused solely on providing arts education, support, activities, and supplies for Skinner West Superstars through Gallery 111
Our mission is to provide arts exposure and education in core subject areas. Due to the rigorous nature of the academic structure at Skinner West, arts programming reinforces student learning in a creative way. It is our belief that the arts supplement, heighten, and expand our school curriculum. In addition to benefiting academics, we also see the arts as a tool to promote higher order and abstract thinking skills in students. The arts appeal to the whole child and provide opportunities to embrace our cultural differences. We encourage students to become well-rounded individuals. The arts also instill a lifelong love of learning.
Jennifer Christiansen, Skinner Teacher
Carole Hennessy, Community Volunteer
Pam Hennessy, Skinner Parent
In 2002 Skinner received a 4-year IAAA (Improving Academic Achievement Through the Arts) grant from the CPS Bureau of Cultural Affairs. Upon receipt, two teachers, Mrs. Jennifer Christiansen and Mrs. Natalie Huber became Co-Chairs of The Skinner Arts Committee. They worked together with a small group of teachers to create a budget, plan, and implement arts programming for our Skinner Superstars
2002-03 Planning & Project Development - $15,000 was earmarked for teacher planning, consulting and equipment for the following school year’s art programs.
2003-04 Implementation Phase – Skinner received and additional $25,000 through an arts partnership with Urban Gateways (UG). Our teachers and their artists worked together to implement an artist-in residency-program, field trips to matinee performances, and in-school cultural performances.
Mrs. Christiansen and Mrs. Natalie Huber applied for and received another 4-year $48,000 Cultural Education Program grant (CEP) from Urban Gateways (UG). Each year guaranteed $12,000 worth of programming for Skinner's Students.
2004-05 - UG awarded Gallery 111 an additional $12,000. The grant stipulated thatSkinnermatch a portion of the grant. Our responsibility in 2004-05 and 2005-06 was $4,000 and $8,000, respectively. In the grant’s final year, we raised the entire $12,000.
Late 2004 - Natalie Huber and Jennifer Christiansen realized that this “art thing” was growing. We needed: 1 - the help of other teachers to assist with implementing and planning arts programming, and 2- dedicated parents to help fundraise to fulfill our financial responsibility to Urban Gateways. The parent/teacher committee that formed to accomplish these goals came to be known as Gallery 111.
In the years since, we continueto support The Arts at Skinner West through our successful annual fundraising event, No Art Left Behind. Stay tuned for more information on this year's gala!
Want to learn more and get involved? Please contact Gallery111gala@gmail.com
2nd& 4th graders participated in a 20-week residency with Hands On Stanzas (HOS). Our Poet-in-Residence brings in a published poem to discuss with students, then prompts themto write their own original poems. Then they are performed! Each week during the residency, HOS publishes several exemplary student poems on the Skinner West Hands On Stanzas blog.
5th& 6th graders participated in 10-week drama residency with Emerald City Theatre. Emerald City has strong literacy ties and heavily aligns with school curriculum.
7th& 8th graders worked with Green Star Movement - making tiles and working on the design that became the outdoor Mosaic on the outside wall of the building - visible from Adams Street.
Kindergarteners learned about drama through stories and music in 4-week residency.
1st grade learned dances from around the world with May I Have This Dance!