Intrinsic School Moves Downtown for Interim 2013-2014 School Year

By Lizzie Schiffman on March 18, 2013 2:02pm 

 Suzanne Velasquez-Sheehy, former principal of LaSalle II Magnet School, was a good sport at the 2012 Do Division Fest June 8. The leader of the Division Street school emerged "all smiles" from a dunk tunk at the Family Fest portion of the festival.
Suzanne Velasquez-Sheehy, former principal of LaSalle II Magnet School, was a good sport at the 2012 Do Division Fest June 8. The leader of the Division Street school emerged "all smiles" from a dunk tunk at the Family Fest portion of the festival.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

DOWNTOWN — A new charter school is coming downtown for the 2013-2014 school year — but it won't stay for long.

Intrinsic Schools, a new chain of charters that emphasizes technology immersion, this fall will open its first site to ninth graders at a temporary downtown location while its permanent facility is built at 4540 W. Belmont Ave.

The charter school is in final negotiations for "a downtown location easily reachable by all major CTA lines" to host students this fall, according to an announcement from the new school's principal, Suzanne Velasquez-Sheehy.

Velasquez-Sheehy earlier this year left her position as principal of LaSalle II Magnet School, a role she had played since LaSalle II was founded in 2008. She has been a Chicago Public Schools employee since 1987.

"I would never leave my school for just another elementary school," Velasquez-Sheehy said at a January Local School Council meeting where she announced her departure from LaSalle. "This is a whole new experience, helping to open five new schools. They are using a blended model, integrating online learning with traditional learning and that's at the forefront of education, utilizing technology."

The Portage Park location will eventually serve grades 7-12, with a cap of 800 students, but will cycle grades in year by year, with the 2013-2014 school year serving only ninth grade students.

Applications for current eighth grade students will be accepted through Friday.

The initiative to launch five Intrinsic Schools, notable for providing tablets or laptops to all students and integrating technology into the curriculum, is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Their foundation's education arm, Next Generation Learning Challenges, awarded the plan $450,000 in grants this year to build up to five Intrinsic Schools.

There are 186 available seats for ninth grade students for the 2013-2014 school year. If more than 186 applicants apply, students will be admitted by a lottery drawn the following Monday.

As part of Chicago Public Schools, admission to Intrinsic School is free, though there is a $100 school fee per child. Transportation is not provided by the school, though students will have access to discounted CTA passes.

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