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Peabody Teacher Helps 'Future City' Creators to See 'Sky's the Limit'

By Alisa Hauser | May 28, 2013 10:48am
 Under the direction of Peabody School teacher Lisa Lane and a mentor, Anthony Martini, 11 students from the West Town school spent four months conceiving, building and designing a city of the future for a 'Future City' competition.
Teacher of Week: Lisa Lane and 'Future City' at Peabody School
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WEST TOWN — A group of students who designed a futuristic city named "Lanesville" created more than a flying Segway rental shop and solar-powered building with rooftop gardens.

The members of Peabody School's "Future City" club shared what seventh grade student Zaria Brim described as an "awesome, amazing experience."

"I can't believe it's over. Kids not graduating were looking forward to doing it next year," Brim said, noting that Peabody is one of 50 schools CPS will close at the end of the year.

On Friday, the 11 members of the club gathered around a tabletop model of "Lanesville" — an imagined city on the southern tip of Florida along the Atlantic coast line which they named for their teacher advisor, Lisa Lane. They snapped a picture with a sign reading "Thank you, Tony!"

The plan is to give the photo to Anthony Martini, a professional engineer who served as a mentor for the Future City club at Peabody, 1444 W. Augusta Blvd. They competed in a nationwide competition in January that challenged sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to conceive, design and build a city using Sim City software and recycled materials.

The model of "Lanesville" sits in the center of Lane's classroom and features tall buildings, rain gardens, fountains, bio swells to conserve rain runoff, and a monorail, among other features.

Under the direction of Lane, primarily a special ed teacher, and Martini, who visited the school every Thursday for four months, the club's members worked on the project before school, during gym time, art class and recess from October until January, Lane said.

They presented "Lanesville" in a statewide competition at University of Illinois' Chicago campus in January, where they placed 13th overall out of 18 schools, with Lanesville earning a Livable City award from the American Institute of Architects.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive officer of CPS, wrote a letter congratulating Peabody School on its Future City efforts in mid-February.

"Two weeks after we got the letter [from Byrd-Bennett], we were on the closing list," Lane said.

Lane said Peabody was the only "traditional public school" among the CPS schools taking part in Future City, referring to the fact the West Town school is not a selective enrollment or magnet school.

Lisa Torres, a Ukrainian Village resident, said Future City was important to her son, Apolonio Retana, an eighth grader who learned teamwork and social skills being a member of the club.

"Where we come from, there is so much negativity.  This is a positive program where kids can compete with other schools. [Lane] shows them that they are limitless and the sky's the limit no matter where they come from," Torres said.

Torres said she hopes Lane is "able to take what she has — from her caring to her knowledge and the person that she is —  [to] get placed in a good school."

"Kids deserve her. She's genuine and you can tell she's invested in the students, really cares about who they are and where they're going," Torres said.

Lane, a Roscoe Village resident, has been teaching at Peabody for seven years and praised Peabody School's principal, Federico Flores, for giving teachers the freedom to take on projects like Future City and Problem Solvers, a club she led before Future City.

A mother of three, Lane said she believes good teachers are adaptable to changing conditions, understanding of the home lives of the students and treat the kids as equals.

"I'm proud of all the work we've done here and have no regrets," Lane said.