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Catherine Cook School

226 West Schiller
Chicago, IL 60610

(312) 266-3381


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Due to our small class size, teachers are able to work individually with children or in small groups based on ability level in the classrom. Our Student Support Services team is able to meet with students who need a little extra support one-on-one to give them strategies to help them succeed in the classroom.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Founded in 1975 and located in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, The Catherine Cook School is an independent, nondenominational, coeducational school with three divisions: Early Childhood (3 yrs - SK), Lower School (Grades 1- 4), and Middle School (Grades 5-8). With a low teacher-student ratio, the school provides a challenging curriculum that blends the best of traditional and contemporary education. The school provides a nurturing and caring environment in which there is mutual respect and an emphasis on community, art, music, library, science, technology, physical education, and early foreign language instruction enhance the total academic curriculum. The school avails itself to the city's diverse cultural, educational, and recreational offerings via field trips and on-campus presentations, when appropriate. An extended day
program along with after school lessons in a variety of fine arts, language instruction, and sports activities are available.

At an early age, students learn and apply essential study skills for both group and independent learning situations. In preparing students for future experiences, the school believes that students need to learn how to
think, solve problems, capitalize on strengths, make decisions, and communicate effectively. For students to live comfortably in an ever changing and diverse society, the school believes that they should also learn to appreciate the opinions of others, understand various cultures, and to be civil in their relationships. As appropriate to individual needs and interests, The Catherine Cook School's graduates a traditionally accepted to Chicago's outstanding independent and public schools.

A Typical Day

The Early Childhood division welcomes children as young as three years old and continues through Senior Kindergarten. The concentration is on play-to-learn activities, with a stong emphasis on language development and socialization. As students grow, the emphasis broadens to include authentic experiences in early literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. World language begins in Senior Kindergarten.

The Lower School, grades 1-4, continues to emphasize hands-on learning in an expansive, academic environment. By keeping class sizes small, students are able to develop meaningful, positive relationships with the dedicated teachers who nurture and challenge them daily. In these grades, we encourage children to become independant learners by helping them to develop organizational skill and problem solving approaches that are useful in both academic and social settings. The Lower School is a lively environment where children thrive as happy, inquisitive, and resourceful students, developing a strong sense of community membership.

Analytical and abstract thinking are the foundations of all academic work in the Middle School, grades 5-8. We stress finding connections between fields of human endeavor by integrating learning across academic disciplines. At the heart of the Middle School experience, our one-to-one tablet computer program empowers students to be collaborators, communicators, and investigators, linked to a world of learning resources and limitless potential. Establishing strong, dependable relationships between students and teachers is crucial at this age, and our Middle School students explore new academic territory and develop personal kills with a safety net of caring teachers and advisors.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

The school send home Progress Reports on a quarterly basis. Parent/teacher conferences are held twice a year. Teachers also update their own blogs on a weekly basis to let parents know what is happening in the classroom. All teachers and administrators are available by email and phone every day. We have an annual Open House where families are invited to visit their child's classroom for an evening. Our Parent's Association and our School Counselor put on dicussion groups for parents as well.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation