Having been a longtime teacher in Oak Park, my eyes were drawn to the WJ article heading “A quarter century of ‘extra’ ordinary education,” celebrating 25 years of the Oak Park Education Foundation. As one of the initial classroom participants in Global Village, I had an upfront view of its evolution and was one of its many strong proponents.

My colleague, Kathy Botticelli, a second-grade teacher extraordinaire who loved doing science experiments with her students, was the midwife of this program. She cajoled and arm-twisted and charmed and hand-held teachers and scientists alike to climb on board this science express. 

Recognizing her enthusiasm and determination, District 97 named her teacher coordinator of the Global Village program. She was the liaison between the teacher and the scientist and worked tirelessly to find dates and times that would work for everyone. When the scientist determined the equipment she would need for her experiments, Kathy sought it out, and, if not available in the district, would order it. 

She spent hours after school and during summers lining up scientists with teachers. Kathy was always available because it was a work of love that she was presenting to the students of Oak Park. At the end of each school year, she coordinated the grand celebration of scientists and teachers and board at Cheney Mansion. 

And now, 25 years later, it is heartening to learn that, through Science Alliance, people like Deb Abrahamson, of Art Smart, and Tim Walsh, a master teacher-scientist, are still benefiting from the hard work of Kathy Botticelli and other early educational visionaries.

Pat Healey

Ph.D., curriculum and instruction

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