After the Table

Meet the Host: Sarah Makela

Pictured above: From growcommunitychicago.org website.

Edited by: Sonya Lewis
May 2, 2018

Sarah Makela is the executive director of GROWCommunitySarah and her team hosted their first On the Table gathering in 2017 at Amundsen High School. GROWCommunity will co-host their 2018 table with three Local School Council (LSC) members, each one representing Amundsen High School, Lake View High School and Hamilton Elementary. The table, which is an opportunity for LSC members to share perspectives and best practices, will be held at Lake View High School.

What motivated you to sign up to host a 2018 On the Table gathering?

After hosting our 2017 table, we decided immediately to make it an annual event. Being a part of a conversation that is happening all across Chicago gives On the Table gatherings special meaning.”
Hosting a table is a great opportunity for GROWCommunity to bring together members of the school communities we work with and members of our community at large who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to meet and talk.”

Pictured above: Sarah Makela of GROWCommunity, 2018 On the Table host.

Who’s on your 2018 guest list and what will they discuss?

We’re inviting LSC members from the 19 GROWCommunity schools for a rare opportunity to meet for cross-school discussion and collaboration. Our goal is to nurture a conversation among LSC members that allows them to share perspectives and best practices and lay the groundwork for future conversations.”

Why is this discussion important? 

Local School Council members play a critical role in their school communities and in CPS overall. It is important for LSC members to have opportunities to reflect on their role and to interact with peers beyond their own schools. These opportunities are infrequent, so we are excited that we can offer our table for this conversation.”

Tell us about your organization.

GROWCommunity is working to develop a seamless K-12 of public neighborhood schools that are the top educational choices for families in our community, which includes the North Side neighborhoods of Lakeview, North Center and Ravenswood neighborhoods. GROWCommunity is anchored by two Chicago Public Schools– Amundsen and Lake View high schools.”

Finish the sentence: If I could make one change in the city of Chicago, it would be…

…a guarantee of ample, stable, equitable funding for Chicago Public Schools now and always. I think the city of Chicago is doing a great job…..

…speaking out in cohesive and strong voices around many of the national-level challenges our city currently faces. I’m proud to call myself a Chicagoan.”

If you could invite a famous Chicagoan, living or deceased, to join your table, who would that be and why?

If I’m being honest, I’d say Oprah Winfrey, which is so cliché, and I’m not even sure she’s still considered a Chicagoan!”
More pertinent to our actual On the Table, I would love for CPS CEO Janice Jackson to join us for dinner and be part of our LSC-focused conversation as both a CPS leader and CPS parent.”

What tips can you offer a first-time host?

Don’t worry about providing detailed conversation starters or having to micro-manage the discussion: People welcome the opportunity to meet new folks who are similarly eager to build a strong community. This means that conversation comes easily and time flies.”