Chicago’s Rowe Elementary: New Campus and Community-Focused Education in West Town

New K-3rd Building Optimizes Academic, Social-Emotional Learning. The school’s principal explains.

Rowe Elementary School, in Chicago’s dynamic West Town neighborhood, will welcome its youngest scholars to a newly designed campus for the 2024-25 school year, one of several strategic enhancements to foster a more effective and engaging learning environment. 

Kindergarten through third grade will be in Rowe’s newest facility, while the fourth through eighth graders will learn in the historic former Chicago Public School building nearby, optimizing the size and amenities of both campuses.

“Our reconfigured campuses will provide more appropriate and effective learning spaces for our students, facilitating both academic and personal growth,” says Principal Jason Smith.

The K-3 campus is tailored to the needs of young learners with spacious classrooms, wide hallways and dedicated areas for creative exploration.

“Our newest families will see the newer, sleeker, more modern building as a good first step into the real life of learning,” Smith says. 

Community beyond classroom

Education extends far beyond traditional academic subjects at Rowe, where students and their families can receive invaluable integrated resources. As part of the Northwestern University Settlement House, families joining Rowe gain access to a deep well of networked services including emergency support, legal help, employment and housing assistance, after-school care and even a food pantry. 

This comprehensive support system ensures that no student’s learning is hindered by external circumstances.

Kids Playing at Northwestern Settlement
Photo Credit: Northwestern Settlement

“For instance, I’ve had families that have come to us that need clothing because there was a fire in their apartment,” says Smith. “We can get them clothing; we can get some food from the food pantry; we can set them up with legal services; we can set them up with immigration help — all those different life things.”

Social-emotional learning

The reconfiguration of the Rowe campuses enhances the learning environment for younger students and improves social-emotional learning (SEL), essential in early education.

“We want our kids to be good students. But more importantly, we want them to be good human beings,” Smith says. “Restorative practices are big with us, and the SEL component of their learning is a very important part of their daily experience at Rowe.”

Combined with Settlement House’s extensive collection of resources, Rowe students benefit from seamless access to extra-curricular and support services. 

“It’s a nice wraparound piece,” Smith says. “When we have students that need extra support in just about anything, we have school-level professionals like psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists. 

“We want our kids to do well academically … but we also spend a huge amount of time on their social-emotional learning and preparing them to be fully functioning, well-adjusted young adults.”

Choosing Rowe

Rowe has a unique education model that supports children academically and promotes resilience and adaptability through all of life’s challenges. 

Families in ZIP codes spanning Chicagoland say they choose Rowe because the school offers a “little village” — a uniquely welcoming, inclusive community where students are valued for their individuality and compassionately coached throughout their educational journey. They also say they appreciate the academic rigor, responsive and dedicated staff, and the school’s commitment to social-emotional learning. 

As Rowe Elementary prepares for the new academic year, Smith says he often sees parents who return or enroll for the same reasons: 

“It’s not just a school; it’s people joining our community,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you go to school at Rowe or if you graduate from Rowe: you’re always part of this community. Whenever you need help, we can support you.”

Learn more at northwesternsettlement.org  

Emilie Lutostanski
Emilie Lutostanski
Emilie Lutostanski is a nationally recognized social media and audience leader with over 15 years of newsroom experience. She specializes in social media strategy, SEO, video, and branded content. In her career, she has led audience development and content strategy and coached hundreds of newsrooms on social media engagement.

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