Friday, November 6, 2009

Eliot School

I think everyone who drives up Lake Avenue to Altadena wants to take a picture of Eliot School. Founded in 1931 and named for Charles W. Eliot (who was a president of Harvard University and responsible for introducing the elective course system), Eliot is a middle school, part of the Pasadena Unified School District and current home to about 700 sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

I toured the school the other day along with a small group of parents and Susan Savitt Schwartz, Director of Operations for Pasadena Education Network. PEN helps parents learn what Pasadena's public schools are really like by connecting them to the facts, to other parents and to the educators themselves.

Our tour was led by the (relatively) new principal of Eliot School, Peter Pannell, himself an Eliot alum. Mr. Pannell (he's the principal--I can't call him Peter) patiently answered questions and gave me the feeling he's an educator who cares. He hasn't forgotten what it's like to be one small kid in a big school.

You know me, I'm interested in the visuals, the architecture. But I found Pannell's earnest talk compelling. Over the coming days, with his help, I'll show you around inside Eliot School and tell you a little more about the fantastic things going on there--like the biggest API score gain of all the PUSD schools in the past year--and that's saying something.

Parent Tours at Eliot School are given the first Tuesday of every month, first thing in the morning. Contact the school at (626-396-5680).


Dina said...

Imagine school without the electives system.
Lucky kids to have a school so beautiful, with a tower, lawns. My schools in Chicago had no grass at all.
Know what you mean about the title. I have a friend for almost 50 years now, but because she was a teacher at my high school when I was a student there, she can have no first name for me. Only MRS. Hubbard.

Dirk said...

I'm a long time and a long way geographically from there but I'm Eliot "Junior High School" alum too, Class of 1973. Thanks for the great story--I'm really glad to see the place looks so good. I'll be in Altadena for Chrisitmas so I'll get to see it first hand for the first time in several years!

Margaret said...

Middle school. Brings back bad locker memories.

Petrea said...

Dina, I had electives in school beginning at age 13. Required subjects are important but electives are equally so.

Hi Dirk! Welcome, thanks for commenting. I'll be posting more photos of Eliot for the next few days.

Funny you should say that, Margaret. They have lockers but they don't use them. It's policy: no place to stash contraband, a lot less noise between classes and no bad locker memories.

TheChieftess said...

This school reminds me of my high school, before they tore it down and built a new school...we had a tower too...when it was scheduled to come down, many students, alumni and community members were there to watch and mourn the loss of our tradition.

Pascal Jim said...

I'm curious about that tiny window above the auditorium that has been painted over. What it be?

HearkenCreative said...

Our Pasadena schools need all the help they can get. Thanks for spotlighting one of them. Unfortunately, there have been a rash of break-ins at several Pasadena Unified schools over the last several months, and it is compromising our kids' education (dozens -- I'm not kidding -- of projectors, computers, and other tech stuff have been stolen). I believe the organizations like PEN and PEF, and courageous administrators like Pannell are doing lots of good for our kids, but they are up against some horrific evil in the world.

Cafe Observer said...

It's good 2 C U bak in school

Petrea said...

We get so attached, don't we, Chieftess? This school has been the home of a lot of students.

Pascal Jim, which window do you mean? Is it in the photo? The round one? In any case, I don't know the answer but maybe someone out there does.

Which schools are you talking about specifically, Loren? (If I read the news more often I'd know the answer.) Eliot looks well-supplied, and my impression was security there is good. The subject of theft didn't come up.

Cafe, just being in a school building really took me back.

Shell Sherree said...

I love that they aren't afraid to think outside the box {that one's especially for you, Hiker}, like being locker-free.

HearkenCreative said...

Petrea, I don't know all of the details, but I do know that McKinley, Sierra Madre, Don Benito, and Pasadena High School have all had recent break-ins. This is the second this school year for McKinley. (I don't think these things are always reported by the Star News; the district keeps a pretty tight rein on public information.)

Even with all the drawbacks, I'm fully in favor of lockers. Otherwise, my middle-schooler would be carrying around 60-lbs.-worth of books to every class period. His backpack is already seriously too heavy for an 11-yr-old.

We have some excellent schools here in Pasadena. They also have some excellent, beautiful, historic buildings. I hope that the district is able to use some of the TT funds to wisely repair some of the aging, dilapidated buildings before they deteriorate beyond repair, so that they can be enjoyed by another generation of children.

Petrea said...

More on the locker-free policy in today's post, Shell.

Thanks for the clarification, Loren. One of the reasons the schools provide these tours (and Pasadena Education Network, who invited me) is to clarify facts about themselves, so I wanted to be clear.
Take a look at today's post (updated) to see how Eliot handles the book question.
As for robberies, it's bad enough to steal, but to steal from the education of children is--I don't know, it makes me feel helpless. Especially at this time of budget cuts, when it's so hard to give them what they need anyway. I can't come up with the words.

Ibarionex R. Perello said...

I like how you use the trees as a framing device in the shot.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Ibarionex! This building has been photographed so much; just looking for a new way to do it.