Maplewood Richmond Heights School District | St. Louis Public Radio

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District

Maplewood Richmond Heights' Early Childhood Center is less diverse than the overall district, reflecting a decade of changing demographics in Maplewood.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The two-story house Laine Schenkelberg purchased on Maplewood’s Marietta Avenue in 2009 was supposed to be a starter home. A decade later, she shares the house with her husband, Eric, and their four children ages 7 months to 9 years, along with a cat.

When it was time for their oldest, Xavier, to begin school, the couple toured private options, but nothing felt quite right. Then a friend persuaded them to check out the Early Childhood Center, run by the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

Katey Finnegan demonstrates how to use the chill zone, a space where students can take time to regroup while at the Maplewood Richmond Heights district's Student Success Center.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area school districts are in the midst of a discipline revolution. After the Ferguson Commission in 2015 recommended banning suspensions for students in kindergarten through third grade, schools began looking at how to address the root causes of difficult behavior.

Twenty-one districts pledged to at least attempt to reduce suspensions, and two have followed through, but officials say it can be tough to do without substantially investing time and money.

The holiday season is a time when families gather, usually for food and fun.  But in an age of video games, cell phone chats and abbreviated texts, sometimes, thoughtful conversations with elders are missed.

This year, St. Louis Public Radio, in partnership with StoryCorps, invited students from Maplewood Richmond Heights High School to spend some time asking questions of an important person in their lives. And then to just let the other person talk. 

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 14 9:45 a.m. with results of the assembly — By the 2018-2019 school year at least four school districts in the St. Louis area could have policies banning out of school suspensions for their youngest students.

At a regional assembly on suspensions Sunday evening, the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District pledged to ban out of school suspensions for pre-K through 3rd grade next school year. Ladue and Normandy committed to doing the same the following year. St. Louis Public Schools enacted their own ban this school year.

St. Louis Public Radio file photo

After 25 years as a gym teacher, Annalee Zweig knows a lot of different exercises. But she had never encountered the hoops she had to jump through to get jobs as a substitute teacher.

Zweig subs in Parkway, where she taught at four elementary schools before retiring five years ago. This past year, Parkway — along with Normandy and Maplewood Richmond Heights — contracted with a division of Kelly Services, the temporary help company, to recruit, place and employ substitute teachers.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Kaiya Timmermeier is standing under a big oak tree in the parking lot of Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School. She is more than a little freaked out at the moment.

“It’s so scary,” she said in shaky voice. “OK, now what?”

Robert Dillon, director of innovation for the Affton School District
courtesy photo

Racial disparities are a huge topic in education. And Missouri schools — specifically those in the St. Louis area — have been singled out as having some of the nation’s highest rates of suspensions that are disproportionately allocated to African Americans. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you stories of people directly participating in that system. This week, we spoke to educators, who shared their own journeys of grappling with issues of race, poverty and discipline in local schools. 

Parents cheer during a football game against Christian Brothers College High School at St. Louis University High on Friday. At left, Verlion Evans cheers for her nephew, Andrew Clair.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When she was a student at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School back in the 70s, Betty Pearson would ring a cowbell every time the Blue Devils made a touchdown. Her high school sweetheart — now her husband — played football, and their oldest son later followed in his footsteps. So when the school board announced they were ending the district's high school football program due to a lack of interest, Pearson was pretty shocked.

“I was first sad! I was like, 'Oh wow.' You know?” Pearson said.

From left, SheRon Chaney helps her daughters Anandra and BrenNae with homework at their dining room table.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This week lawmakers put a bill on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk that’s supposed to fix the state’s student transfer law that doesn't include a hard cap on how much receiving districts can charge.

A lack of a tuition cap has rekindled concerns that the cost of student transfers will bankrupt the Normandy school district. And for the Chaney family, who St. Louis Public Radio profiled back in May of last year, it’s just the latest twist in what’s been a roller coaster ride.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Voters in the Webster Groves School District said a resounding no Tuesday to two proposals — a bond issue and a tax increase — that will mean layoffs of teachers and cancellation of plans to expand and improve district facilities.

While those proposals were soundly defeated, voters in Rockwood and Ferguson-Florissant put past controversies behind them and gave solid majorities to bond issues designed to improve facilities in both of those districts.

voting booth for paper ballot
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Two St. Louis County school districts are asking voters to put recent controversies behind them and approve bond issues next month to help bring facilities up to date.

In Rockwood, where two bond issues have failed in recent years, $68.95 million in bonds would pay for improved technology and increased security along with better athletic facilities. In Ferguson-Florissant, a $31 million bond issue would fund capital improvements and repairs, safety and security measures and updated technology.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2011 - When you walk into the Early Childhood Center in the Maplewood-Richmond Heights school district, besides the tall windows and the inviting blond wood of the floor, tables and chairs, you most likely will be struck by the long nature mural hanging on the wall.

To Jennifer Strange, the school's pedagogista, the drawings of plants and animals and insects, above and below the ground, are a perfect example of the use of the Reggio Emilia theory of educating young children: How teachers can listen to their students, figure out what their interests are, then mold those natural inclinations into lessons that instill in the students skills they can use the rest of their lives.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 25, 2011 - Growing up here, Laura Miller couldn't wait to get out. She wanted a house in the suburbs, maybe, something big and new. In her mid-20s, she chose the city instead and lived in St. Louis Hills and Lindenwood Park. But she and her husband missed being part of a community.

Commentary: Are differing tax rates a de facto voucher system?

Aug 11, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 11, 2011 - This is a tale of two neighborhoods. Both St. Louis suburban neighborhoods are impressive, and outwardly they look like twins. Hampton Park and Lake Forest sit on opposite sides of Hanley Road between Clayton Road and Highway 40, and they both boast large, stately homes. They are equidistant from the region's central business districts. With two exceptions, they have the same level and quality of public services and the same tax rates. With so many similarities, you might assume property values would be the same. But you would be wrong.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 5, 2011 - They have bees at Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, and we're not talking about the spelling and geography contests you'll find at most elementary or middle schools.

We're talking REAL bees.

Buzzing bees.

Editor's Weekly: Beacon and quail eggs

Nov 17, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 17, 2010 - Quail eggs were central to a conversation I stumbled upon at last week's aptly named Beacon and Eggs gathering in Maplewood.

Linda Henke, Maplewood's school superintendent, was asking Tom Flood of Schlafly Bottleworks whether he would be interested in buying any. Some of Henke's students are thinking about raising quail, but only if there were a market for the eggs.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 8, 2010 -  If all politics is local, as Tip O'Neill famously said, then local propositions like tax hikes and bond issues are the place where the aphorism is put to its toughest test.

On Tuesday, such issues passed overwhelmingly, with not only Proposition A for mass transit winning by a big margin but school tax issues and bond proposals coming up winners as well. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 24, 2009 - When Vivian McBride ran for the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education a decade ago, she found herself defending a decision made years earlier to pull her oldest daughter out of the district after seventh grade and send all four of her children to schools in Ladue, where her husband taught.