April 2020 Newsletter
The New Normal North Side’s Virtual School

“I enjoy it when I enter a Google Classroom, and a scholar will interrupt and say, ‘Look, Mr. Asher’s here, hi, Mr. Asher’ like I actually just walked into the classroom,” said school CEO Chester Asher. “It’s encouraging to me to see the scholars are paying attention and excited in this new environment that can be intimidating.”

North Side Community School's onsite classes closed for safety’s sake on March 18th. The coronavirus cases were quickly mounting. So, we began building our virtual school. Swiftly. The final pieces are still coming together, yet for the most part, here we all are, inside our Google Classrooms. Teachers, administrators, and scholars are hard at work each weekday teaching, learning, and figuring out how to navigate this space together.

It’s taken a lot of effort to build an inclusive virtual school where there was nothing. We send special thanks to our friends who stepped up during this rapid COVID response.
  • Shelley Boaz and The Bailey Foundation donated meals and delivery/pick-up for the first eight days of closure.
  • EPC, Inc. donated and delivered 100 laptops for home use by our children.
  • The Opportunity Trust awarded a $5,000 grant to help defray the expense of purchasing wifi hotspots for home use.
  • Kirkwood High School senior Emma Lingo raised $420 in mainly $2 and $5 increments given by fellow students.
  • Plus, we have a whole mask-making group of supporters (see article below)

“Our school’s staff, faculty, and board of directors came together with some amazing volunteers and donors, and made some magic happen. We got our food and technology distribution systems in place faster than I thought was possible,” said Asher.

“I’d like to give a special shout-out to Facilities Manager Mike McClelland who worked an incredible amount of overtime–and on Easter–readying several rounds of technology disbursements. Also, special shout-outs go to the front-line workers who daily risk their own health to distribute food and technology from our elementary campus. We see you, we thank you, and we admire your courage and love for our children,” said Asher. 

North Side will be hosting a virtual summer school in June. More details are to come.
What Makes an Online School Work? 
  • 1 well-researched Online Learning Plan
  • 1 survey of the at-home technology needs of scholars
  • 395 laptops provided to scholars
  • 76 wifi hotspots shared with families
  • 34 homeroom teachers prepped, enthusiastic, and live online Monday-Friday
  • 18 classroom aides, specialty teachers, and special educators meeting remotely with students and parents one-on-one throughout the week 
  • 1 all-faculty Google Hangout each weekday morning to trouble-shoot and prepare
  • 1 “Asher Chat” with parents and guardians each Sunday at 4 p.m. to provide emotional and technical support
Food for Families

We can adapt to teach online, but feeding scholars demands real world connection. 

Each school day, grab-and-go meals are available from 8 a.m.-noon in the main building at the elementary school. The set-up features a drive-through style service for everyone’s safety. For families with no vehicles, the school delivers meals to porches with every safety precaution taken.

“We have been providing 100-150 meals a day on most days,” said Asher. “As the pandemic runs its course, we will likely see those numbers increase, and we are prepared for that. Ms. Allen (social worker) has really taken lead on this and become indispensable for our most food-insecure families.”

Kudos to Ms. Allen and the North Side Parent Organization, led by Lamechia Bradford and Jasmine Straughter, who have been spreading the word about the available meals.
Groundbreaking Beyond Expectations Capital Campaign

With scholars safely at home, you would think that North Side’s main campus would be quiet. Instead, it is humming with the sounds of construction. The walls are going up rapidly for our new classroom building and expanded cafeteria. The Groundbreaking Celebration on March 4th welcomed several dozen school friends and the local media. Our teachers and scholars who will be enjoying the new space were able to get excited about next year!

CEO Chester Asher announced our Beyond Expectations Capital Campaign to raise $1.8 million to finance this elementary school expansion. This is the school’s first capital campaign, being led by Cabinet Co-chairs Ken Rinderknecht and Beth Louis. Thus far, the campaign has raised $630,000 in commitments. This includes six-figure gifts from an anonymous angel investor as well as generous six-figure gifts from Emerson and the William T. Kemper Fund .

Another six-figure investment was committed through 100 percent participation by the members of the North Side Board of Directors . “North Side is immensely grateful for these lead gifts which we hope will inspire others to give,” said Rinderknecht.

The highlight of the groundbreaking event was unplanned, and is best seen, not explained. So, without further ado: View KMOV-TV'S Flying Dirt Video

Groundbreaking Highlight: Speeches were written and delivered to wild applause by fourth-grader Larry Thompson and seventh-grader Dwayne Willis .

North Side in the News

March was a big month for our school in the local news! Enjoy the stories below...happy times pre-pandemic.

A Mask to Spare

Masks are like rolls of toilet paper during the first days of the pandemic. Everyone wants them, and there are none to be had. What do do?

Up to the plate stepped June Lewis and Denice Griner who donated their washable, reusable homemade fabric masks to protect our staff and families. Supporters Ken Rinderknecht , Tracee Holmes , and Kathleen Voigt donated funds to help cover supply costs for 200 more masks still being sewn in small batches at home by volunteer Kim Goldstone .

Sometimes, low-tech TLC is the best answer. Thank you to this wonderful group of donors and volunteers!
The Magic of Childhood Will Not Be Dimmed

We are sad that we missed gathering with you for our annual gala, always a magical night. While COVID precautions meant we could not meet on April 3rd at Neo, we are still thinking of you. We are hoping that our North Side Community School children are still in your hearts and on your minds. 

We are grateful to every gala sponsor listed below who made the decision to sustain their support. We are also grateful to those of you who purchased tables or tickets and allowed us to convert your payments to donations. Thank you!

Finally, deep appreciation goes out to our Gala Steering Committee members who have rallied and thought "outside the box" to keep making the magic happen for our scholars.

Please look for your individual letter in your mailbox at home in May.
Black History Celebration Photo Fun!

Due to COVID-19, the final all-school family and friends gathering of the school year turned out to be our Black History Celebration on February 18th. Scholars in grades k-7 performed admirably singing songs and acting out skits focused on accomplishments of African Americans.

We were all inspired by their performances. Mr. Greenlee was a dynamic emcee with challenging trivia questions for the audience. Thanks to all the teachers and administrators who went above and beyond to pull off this big show. Thanks to all our families and friends who came out and supported our scholars!

Now Enrolling for the 2020-21 School Year

Our #1 top-performing school is making room for more children. New families may enroll children in all grade levels, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

We have a new interactive Google enrollment form that can be filled out to start the process without leaving home. Ms. Reed and Ms. Bryant are also available to help fill out these forms over the phone. They can be reached 8 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday at 314-385-9502.

Parents can also review our Required Documents List and begin collecting those items and then email or mail them. 

We ask that our current North Side families please alert your child’s homeroom teacher if your family will not be returning to North Side Community School in the autumn.
Teacher Appreciation Day was Appreciated

Before the “new normal” started, our North Side family enjoyed some fun face-to-face time with our supporters. Big thanks goes out to our Young Friends Board who visited each of our three campuses on Valentine’s Day serving up bagels, coffee and camaraderie for faculty and staff.