School Visit: CFI School 70

School 70.jpg

Visited January 11, 2019

As some readers know, I've been touring many of the North Side schools where my clients' children attend. Yesterday, I had a wonderful visit to the Sidener Academy for high-ability students. Today's stop was to Meridian-Kessler's increasingly-popular CFI Nicholson School 70.

"CFI" stands for Center for Inquiry, a platform adopted by a group of IPS schools that now incorporates the respected International Baccalaureate program. Shorthandedly, the IB program seeks to help a student realize his/her strengths and challenges and his/her place in the broader world. Meridian-Kessler's other IPS school, CFI Bingham School 84, which I previously visited and enjoyed, has had the program for about ten years and has proved so popular that students from outside of the district attend when there is space.

CFI School 70 is a K-8 school now in its second year of the newly-adopted program. It is led by Christine Collier, who I've heard referenced before as being IPS's "Mother of CFI." She has served as principal or administrator with each school that has become a CFI school.

What I found today in my tour:

1. An historic. clean, apparently well-maintained building;

2. Students who appeared to be in a good mood and polite -- something made even more remarkable as the entire school was leaving a convocation in the gym and filling the halls;

3. Well-prepared teachers. In the case of the math teacher I met, very serious consideration was given to what a student might do in college and the classes he/she should take in middle-school so as not to create problems down the road. I like long-term thinking like that.

4. A tour that was well-informed and proud of the school without any "fluff."

5. Art, science, and gym classes each week (this apparently needs to be said these days);

6. A reluctance to assign a great deal of homework, other than approximately 40 minutes of math. The school believes that students should learn by doing things with their families, read books, and so forth;

7. Parental involvement is key and expected.

I'll say this: I liked the "feel" of the school. It seemed to blend elements of most of the public and private schools I attended and enjoyed as a child.

As with each of these popular schools, it is sometimes a bit tricky being admitted. Indeed, most of 70's classes are full. There is a lottery system IPS has put into place. There are some preferences such as siblings who already attend, whether you live within five blocks of the school, and a couple of others.

For more information, you can call (317) 226-4270.

My next visit will be to Shortridge High School, now the International Baccalaureate high school for IPS as well as its Arts & Humanities program. Named by US News & World Report as last year's 23rd best high school in Indiana, I'm looking forward to seeing the reasons for its recent popular press. — in Meridian-Kessler, Indianapolis.