The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2015, May 2-3

Pilsen Community Academy

Pilsen Community Academy is a Pre-K through 8th grade school with 475 students. We are a community school offering classes after hours to tutor students and classes for parents as well. In addition we also offer sports and extracurricular activities on Saturday for the entire community- both for students and adults. We partner with America Scores which allows us to be a Community School and provide a wider array of programming. We also partner with DePaul University and UIC University to support our efforts of maintaining a culture of continuous professional growth. Pilsen Academy staff, students and parents have worked very hard to help Pilsen become a high quality level one school and we are working harder to continue in this direction.

Our teachers and staff are dedicated and help the students, parents, and community in any way they can. We also have Nationally Board Certified teachers and a Nationally Board Certified principal.

Our students are dedicated as well. Our daily student attendance is well over 96%.

Our parents meet and participate in various committees including PTA, LSC, BAC, and NCLB on monthly basis. In fact, our parent committees have received several awards for conducting their meetings on time and for their participation.

What new functionality we are looking for

Our current website is not a space where the school community is active. We would like to change that with a new, user-friendly and exciting way for all students, parents, staff, and community members can go to get up to date information. We would like for a new website to have the following:

easy to navigate for parents and students

way to advertise school - colorful and eye catching


classes - each teacher has input or a page and can add their own pictures

contact page

home page with pictures in a slideshow format

student resources

parent resources

teacher resources

community resources/information

after school activities

translation - English Spanish

how many visitors

icon to parent portal

Local School Council page

How the new functionality will help

A new website would allow us to advertise the school and reach the community. The target audience are parents, current students, and potential new families. Two years ago the school was on the CPS closing list due to a low student enrollment and our Level 3 status (on probation for low test scores). Currently we improved our rating to Level 1 and would like to better advertise our school to inform everyone of the quality of education we are offering. We would like for the website to have the ability to translate as 90% of the families the school serves are Latino and 45% of students are English Language Learners.

We also do not have a full technology position! There is a teacher in charge of all technology issues and and she is a full time kindergarten classroom teacher. It would be very helpful to have a new, user-friendly webpage that multiple staff can contribute to and update.

A new website with a lot of resources will help the students to improve academically since they can access their homework and links that their teacher can add to the website to help them.

As a 21st Century community school (we offer expanded programs for students and families), we have a large focus on parent and community engagement. This website would allow us to connect with local organizations and events and create a central space where families can get information and stay engaged.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

31 Messages from Supporters

2015-04-01 00:28:41 UTC
Barbara Radner, DePaul University

Visit Pilsen Academy and you find lively learning activities in every classroom. The extended day program is a dynamic and engaging expansion of the school, and the parent education activities are meaningful ways to build school-home connections and develop great parent leaders.

The website for Pilsen Community Academy will make a great difference to the school community. It will enable the vital team of dedicated teachers to celebrate students' progress, share resources, collaborate, and provide activities for students and families. The Resource Coordinator will make this site a vital window for parents into online materials and learning opportunities for families. I have great confidence that the school's website will make a very positive difference to the entire school community.

The website will enhance all of those programs and become a model for Community schools. The thoughtfulness with which the school community has planned the proposed website development demonstrates that this is a school that has a comprehensive and collaborative approach to enabling everyone to expand progress. I look forward to a really great online support for the school community.

2015-03-31 22:50:47 UTC
Brian Bullington

Pilsen is an active school in an active community and it would be great if their website could reflect and support that. Schools serve as an important hub for families, both for events and engagement as well as information.

The faculty and partners have done their best with the current site to make it welcoming, but it is in severe need of an overhaul to make it truly a destination for those families and partners looking to be involved and stay informed.

School day activities as well as after school will continue to produce the great moments, pictures, and content to fill the new site; and there is so much untapped potential in the site as a vehicle to share resources and stories widely.

2015-04-01 15:38:40 UTC
Havilah Darnieder, Federation for Community Schools

Pilsen Academy has made such amazing strides over the past few years. Through strong family and community engagement, dynamic curriculum, dedicated staff, and visionary leadership, they are truly making great things happen for their students and families.

Unfortunately, their current website doesn't reflect the true energy of this school. With user friendly navigation, access resources that families can use to support student learning at home, and information about the countless resources and events available at Pilsen, a new website is exactly what this school needs to help fully connect to their families and community members.

I'm so excited to experience a new Pilsen website that truly reflects their school community and helps them fully realize their vision for holistically supporting all students and families!

2015-04-01 19:06:29 UTC
Mattie Young-Burns

I work with Pilsen as an after-school partner and it is such a fantastic school! They have a wonderful group of students who work really hard to learn and gain new experiences. The staff is extremely dedicated and works to bring in outside organizations to enhance the students experience. I think having a website that would better serve their needs would allow them to engage better with students, families and the community.

2015-04-02 04:12:55 UTC
Sue Laue, SEL Trainer for Pilsen School

Pilsen has embarked this year on teaching a new evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum beginning in Grades K-3 and developing SEL practices school-wide. The SEL/Climate Team at Pilsen also has set three new SEL goals: to develop an evidence-based curriculum for all grades K-8, develop a peer jury and restorative justice program with positive mediation for conflict resolution and to improve social awareness in Gr 6-8 students by developing a service learning program. It is crucial that parents and the community be informed about and involved in these initiatives along with students to assure that students are successful in school, work and life. A new website with interactive tools and engaging ways of presenting these goals and ways parents and the community can be involved is crucial for success. The Pilsen staff and SEL/Climate Team members are very creative and artistic, and will develop new ways to communicate using the website and graphic design, video and other tools to make the SEL goals come alive with parent/student teamed activities and lessons to share among teachers and other educators. I hope you will consider how this cutting-edge initiative, which increases students academic and social-emotional skills, would be enhanced by granting Pilsen School the new website capability.

2015-04-02 17:01:48 UTC
Laura Przybysz, University of Chicago-SSA

I'm a Pilsen community member and currently intern at Pilsen Community Academy in partnership with America SCORES.

The school community is made up of several dedicated individuals who are committed to student success. Like many urban public schools, Pilsen has to be creative about the ways they provide much needed services and resources to their students and families.

An improved website would be an incredible asset to the school and the people it serves. Not only would better access to information help our teachers, students, parents, and staff, but by providing students with a digital connection to their school, we will give them a new opportunity to experience themselves as ready to excel in a world increasingly defined by the computer science and technology sector.

2015-04-06 16:15:21 UTC
alfredo,7 th grade

i think we could put pictures of the student doing there work and doing fun activities. And we could put it in spanish blc some parents dont know how to speak english. also we could put the activites that are going on and if u are interested you could know about it and join the group

2015-04-06 16:16:52 UTC
Evie Perez, Parent

The website could reach out to a lot of other communities, and that could help us with enrollment. It could give publicity to the school and advertise the nice programs it offers not only for the students, but also for the parents, because it is community based. It could bring other programs to the community.

2015-04-06 16:08:23 UTC
yared, 7th grade

i think this would really help our school because , students will have the opportunity to learn new things and help them improve their grades.

2015-04-06 20:41:23 UTC
Mario Ozuna

I've been coaching Pilsen's Middle School soccer team for two years. The culture in Pilsen is outstanding, I feel right at home when I'm working with the students. The students and teachers are dedicated, smart and hardworking. Things that are not well represented in their website. Also, growing up in a Latino house with a parent that couldn't read English, just like many of the students in Pilsen, I believe is extremely important for the website to be available in Spanish too. These kids work very hard to reach goals that were set by them, they should be rewarded with a website that can display all that hard work and more.

2015-04-07 01:18:03 UTC
Sandra Jaramillo

I have been working in pilsen for the last 9 years as the technology coordinator and bilingual kindergarten teacher. Being a full time kindergarten teacher demands the majority of my time making it nearly impossible to deal with all the requirements of creating and updating the school's website.

The lack of resources is also another obstacle. I would be extremely appreciative of having someone create a website that would be bilingual in English and Spanish, easy to navigate, and highlights all the wonderful things Pilsen has to offer.

2015-04-07 00:51:02 UTC
M. Vazquez

Pilsen Community Academy is a school full of great students and dedicated teachers who go above and beyond. Their current website does not reflect all of the wonderful learning, culture and environment. They say not to judge a book by its cover. However, when parents are looking for a school one of the first things they do is look at the school's website. At its current state it isn't appealing thus, denying students the opportunity for a great education. PLEASE help Pilsen have a website that demonstrates ALL the things that make them unique!!!

2015-04-07 02:01:39 UTC
Antonia Calderon

My son is currently attending 6th grade and my daughter 3rd grade at Pilsen Community Academy. They participate in different after school activities that the school offers like martial arts, computer graphic design, advanced cooking skills and world cuisine and soccer; including Saturday classes. Pilsen Academy is proudly a level 1 school and it has head start/pre-K, special aid programs and many other activities for parents. A friend of mine brought back her kids to this school because of the special aid programs and after school acticities she didn't find in a school closer to her home. I have seen other families that came back to Pilsen Academy because they liked it better and they also recommended it to other parents..

With a new, redesigned webpage, I could learn more about the different and great programs/activities it offers, meet the teachers, learn about their qualifications and the work they do with the class. I could check the school's schedule (calendar) of special events, class field trips, meetings or tests. I can check about the progress of our future playground, how the schools budgets is being used, the fundraising activities that the PTA is planning, etc. I could also see pictures of my children when they are being awarded as students of the month and stars of the week. Parents could also submit their concerns and suggestion to help the school make changes or improvements to it's programs.

The Pilsen community and perhaps people from other neighborhoods and companies could learn more about Pilsen Community Academy and its performance; they may be willing to sponsor and support the school, so it can keep offering these great programs. I kindly ask you to help Pilsen Community Academy show all the reasons why it is a great school and help it keep being the great level 1 school it worked hard to become.

2015-04-07 14:46:44 UTC
yared, 7th grade

i think this would really help our school because , students will have the opportunity to learn new things and help them improve their grades.

2015-04-07 16:42:49 UTC
Vicky L

Pilsen Community Academy is a great school. It has worked very hard to become a level 1 school again. It has many programs and activities it offers not only to students and teachers but also parents. It engages everyone in many ways. From before school programs to a wide variety of after school programs, Pilsen is there to help everyone in need. The many activities it also has like the most recent "Teachers vs Students" basketball game to motivate all kids is unfortunately not reflected on the current website. We know that the technology coordinator has her hands full with her kindergarten class and therefor making it very difficult to update the website.

If we were to have an updated and better website, I believe that the school will truly show its Level 1 status and have more parent and community participation as well as get a wider audience interested in having their child attend Pilsen Community Academy.

I ask that you really consider our school to be selected to have a whole new website so that it can reflect all the good programs, activities, meetings, goals and accomplishments we have set for this school for everyone to see!

2015-04-07 16:44:58 UTC
Megan Lee

As a teacher at Pilsen Academy, I have seen how the school is greatly connected with their community through various after school programs, activities, and even through parent volunteers. I personally myself have had the pleasure to be working with many parents in my classroom who are from the community to help and tutor students. However I notice one challenge is that, though we have such a great school and community connection, it is the lack of awareness of all these great resources. I contact a lot of my parents through e-mail and phone call's. However many of my parents are able to access the internet and to be able to have a functioning website where parents can easily access resources and important updates. To have a website that parents can access will allow me as a teacher to better communicate and continue this great connection that Pilsen has with the community.

2015-04-07 15:39:39 UTC
sole 6th grade

i think that having a website of my school would be good because parents can see the good acts in my school and the parents can have their child apply to Pilsen and the school would be even more fun with more students!

2015-04-07 16:09:58 UTC

Juanita Romero, parent of Pilsen Academy would like this program so that the other parents can see their children activities. So we can grow in the Pilsen community, along with the dedicated staff and parents, and students, that made our school the best that it can be. Pilsen is a welcoming school ,its doors are always open to everyone. This program will benefit our school so that othero communities can see our accomplishments.

2015-04-07 17:12:07 UTC
Elvira Velazquez.

Mi hijo a estado en la escuela Pilsen desde pre-school hoy esta en 8 escuela Pilsen a salido adelante con el gran apoyo de sus maestros, alumnos y padres de familia que estamos comprometidos con el progreso de la escuela y partisipamos constantemente en todas las actividades de la misma..y una renovada pagina web seria increible para todos manteniendo bien informados a los padres y la comunidad ...tambien seria una oportunidad para que nuevas familias inscriban a sus hijos en la escuela viendo la calidad de programas que tenemos.gracias.

2015-04-07 22:46:04 UTC
Chris Clemente

I am a teaching artist and have had the fortunate opportunity to work with three of the teachers at Pilsen. They are very invested in their students future. I think a website initiative would greatly help Pilsen students/teachers organize and line up with current technologies in education.

2015-04-08 17:17:13 UTC
J. Hill

Pilsen Community Academy is a great school with dedicated students, parents, and staff! There are several worthwhile programs available for students and parents that take place at the school. Parents and students would be more aware of these wonderful programs with the help of a new website. As a teacher at Pilsen, I have the privilege of seeing the imaginative learning that takes place at the school daily. With the help of a new website that is easy to navigate and informative, parents and community members could have a better awareness of school programs and see the exciting things that take place at Pilsen Community Academy!

2015-04-09 00:27:39 UTC
Elva Lopez

My children are students at Pilsen Community Academy and I'm very proud of our school and our children because although we are a school in a neighborhood where most people live below the national poverty level, we are rich in knowledge and enthusiasm! We are a level 1 school which is the best level a public school can be at and it's all thanks to our teachers and students who never ever give up besides the challenges we face everyday such as gangs and violence, our children, parents and teachers truly deserve this! :)

2015-04-09 01:24:03 UTC
Victoria Calderon

I have recently moved to the Pilsen neighborhood. My son will start kindergarden next school year. My cousin has told me great things about Pilsen Community Academy. I trust her, but I'd like to know more about the programs it offers. My husband and I work, we might not always have enough time to go to the school's meetings or talk to the teachers about my child's progress and grades. With a redesigned and updated web site, it'll be a lot easier for us to get more information about the teachers and the programs available in the schools. We could log in to the webpage from any place at anytime.

2015-04-09 01:47:50 UTC
Yael Islas

I'm a 6th grade student. The school's current webpage looks old and it is hard to navigate through. I'd like my school to have a completely redesigned and bilingual webpage, so many parents that don't speak English can look up at the work we do in class and in the after school programs where we participate. Even my relatives in Mexico can check the webpage, see pictures of my school and learn more about it. Also, many parents and new students can look for more information about Pilsen Community Academy and register in this school.

2015-04-09 12:37:13 UTC
Mrs. Weber, Pilsen Community Academy teacher-librarian

Reading is a foundational skill for learning, personal growth and enjoyment. The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., picture, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life. As a lifelong learning skill, reading goes beyond decoding and comprehension to interpretation and development of new understandings (AASL Learning Standards).

Providing a link to the CPS library databases, SOAR (Searching Online Access to Resources) will arm students/staff with an arsenal of curriculum-rich resources. From any internet accessible device, patrons can search the Pilsen library by reading/grade level, author, subject, language etc. and even put items on hold. There are thousands of e-books/audio books readily available in a variety of reading levels, content and language. With just a tap/click, PCA users can also access over 15 educational databases that contain curriculum-targeted primary documents, biographies, essays, critical analyses, magazines, newspapers, photographs/illustrations, as well as audio/video clips. Links are also provided to Chicago Public Libraries, PBS Learning Media, History Makers and the Library of Congress.

With an abundance of information available in this digital age, it is vital that our students become information literate. Library classes focus on information technology, in which students learn the skills needed to select, evaluate, and use information appropriately and effectively. All the students at PCA are responsible digital citizens. And, a library webpage would be a great way for them to share their learnings with the community.

2015-04-10 01:36:00 UTC
Mary Espinosa

As a teacher at Pilsen, I know that we will all benefit from having an updated school website. There will be so many opportunities for teachers, students, and parents to have a common place to access important information on the school. It would serve as a platform to highlight events and achievements. It will especially help parents and students find valuable resources. The website would allow for increased communication and an overall connectedness that will lead to greater student success. Pilsen really deserves a new website that will showcase all the hard work of students parents, and staff!

2015-04-10 16:15:18 UTC
Madelyn Tan-Cohen, Program Manager, REACH*TEACH*PLAY, Ravinia

This is our first year partnering with Pilsen Academy. For 15 weeks during the school year, a Teaching Artist visits 3 classrooms to collaborate with classroom teachers to teach students basic music concepts. The teachers we work with are wonderful. They are thoughtful, inspiring and work hard to provide their students with additional avenues for creativity. Pilsen is a fantastic school and would benefit from a redesigned website.

2015-04-10 02:32:23 UTC
Guillermo Islas

Pilsen Community Academy was a couple of years ago in the list of closing schools. Parents, students, teachers and staff teamed up and worked very hard to keep this great school opened. We did it! Since then, teachers have worked very hard to provide quality education to the students and different after school activities to keep students busy learning new things and away from violence and gangs. These cool activities have inspired students to become better and productive members of our community. Pilsen Academy achieved to become a level 1 school once again. That demonstrates the compromise that the teachers and parents have with the students. Having a new website is THE LEAST that this school deserves for working so hard. Pilsen Academy is a great school, it needs and deserves a redesigned website. Thanks.

2015-04-13 04:52:53 UTC

As a teacher at Pilsen, I think it would be a great resource for parent-teacher communication. Teachers would be able to update their individual page with information for parents as well as information for students such as homework. The website would be a great addition to Pilsen and a way to connect teachers, students, parents and community members to see the wonderful things that are happening in our school.

2015-04-13 15:31:22 UTC
Stacey Fredericks, Resource Coordinator

Pilsen Academy has a great school community with high quality education and opportunities for students and families. As a 21st Century Community School, we offer expanded services to the students, parents, and local community - it would be great to be able to share with others through a website all the wonderful opportunities the school offers. As it stands, our current website is not very active and is not able to relay all the great things that are happening.

Nowadays more and more interactions are taking place online, and it is critical that the students, parents, and school are able to participate in receiving and sharing information through the website. With a new website, we could also post a schedule of events, photos from activities at the school, and the teachers could provide tools to help students and parents stay on top of their schoolwork both in English and Spanish so it is accessible to all. The computer classes we have for both students and parents could teach everyone how to access and use the new, updated site.

The school has made great strides in the past year reaching Chicago Public Schools Level 1 status, and a new website could help us continue growing by advertising the school so more students attend.

2015-04-13 16:03:26 UTC

If not too late, below is my opinion on having an awesome website:

With all the new media/communication devices on the rise, it would be great to have an eye-catching website with the latest applications highlighting our school's best features & achievements as well as allowing easy access to assignments, teachers, school events, links to internet instructional programs, etc., and all at the tip of the fingers!

Our Mission

VISION / MISSION We at Pilsen Academy believe that all children can learn and should come first. We believe that all students must be given the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential to become productive citizens in an ever changing multicultural and technological world. We believe that students must have a strong foundation in all areas of the school curriculum so that they develop academically, culturally. socially, and emotionally.