Week 18

“Martin Luther King Jr.” UPWS Class of 2022

Dear Urban Prairie families,

In this Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekly newsletter, we encourage the community to join the faculty and staff in reflecting on the Waldorf principle of Social Renewal and our shared commitment to Conscious Communication. For those who don’t make it into the building, I’m so proud to share the 8th graders’ collaborative portrait of the civil rights hero, hung near our entry, to inspire our students, staff, and visitors of all ages. Cheers to an education that understands the value of the arts in educating a whole human, and the depth of feeling such artistic work cultivates. Social Renewal is born from individuals’ capacity to feel deeply, think clearly, and work with others, with a strong will.

Covid 19. Many of us heard the news yesterday that Omicron has likely peaked in Chicago. I’m proud to say we continue to see no community spread of Covid-19 at Urban Prairie. Again: thank you for taking this virus seriously. Your care shows. Meanwhile: Testing is coming to Urban Prairie. Sign up! Details below.

Alumni Corner. I’m so excited to share that 10th grade ChiArts Visual Artist Cora Mangual ’20 has been commissioned by the Chicago Public Library to create a portrait of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. In celebration of Harold Washington’s upcoming centennial birthday, Cora and another artist will create thematic portraits to highlight Washington’s work, especially for the African American community in Chicago, and his lasting impact. Last year Cora’s portrait of the musician Prince was accepted into a Chicago Public Library teen art competition and exhibition. She has been accepted into and will attend the summer program at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI.

We are all so proud of Cora – and all of our alumni – making their way in the world. While my son (Michael Stewart ’17)  was home for college break, he announced plans to major in Data Science. I talked to another alum over winter break who is applying to nursing programs.

So many different paths! Can’t wait to see where all these students go and what they do next.

In service,


Calendar Highlights

January 25 100 Day Practice Challenge Begins

January 25 SEED small group session #3

January 26 CANCELED Yellow and Green Color Team Potluck

January 26 4/5th Grade Parent/Guardian Evening (Zoom)

January 30 Private Instrument Lesson Recital (3:00pm on Zoom)

February 3  Middle School Parent/Guardian Evening

February 4 First Friday Coffee

February 8 Alumni Panel (6:30pm on Zoom)

February 16 6th Grade Chamber Music Concert

February 16 Crossing the Bridge (rising 1st grade family event)

February 21-25 NO SCHOOL – Mid-Winter Break

February 28 1st Grade Parent/Guardian Evening

February 28 Deadline to apply for Variable Tuition

School News

Water Conservation Grant for our Prairie Roots, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies

Congratulations to the Early Childhood faculty and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jen Kang, who devised and prepared our successful Illinois Green Schools Project mini-grant application to build a wine barrel water pump to be installed in the EC garden. The project will help teach the children about how water can be collected, stored, and reused with the help of a pump.

Thanks, also, to Green Team Chair Mike Grill, a member of the Board of Trustees and a parent in grades 3 & 7, for steering our sustainability work this year!

January Is Conscious Communication Month

You need me (need me)

And I need you (don’t you know)

Without each other there ain’t nothing people can do

–Aretha Franklin, “Think”

This year Urban Prairie has embarked upon a self study as part of our accreditation work through the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. We are studying Waldorf principle No. 2: Waldorf Schools foster social renewal by cultivating human capacities in service to the individual and society. As a Waldorf school, the human capacities we focus on are strength of will, depth of feeling, clarity of thought, and the ability to work with others.

In the spirit of Social Renewal, January is Conscious Communication month at Urban Prairie. Aretha Franklin summed it up so well: We need each other!

As you hum her tune, take a moment to read our Conscious Communication guidelines on p.42 in the UPWS Family Handbook.

(And here’s a Spotify playlist for those in the mind of Civil Rights this week of MLK Jr. Day. –Sharla)

100 Days of Anything Challenge

Next week on January 25th our Orchestra students begin our 100 Day Practice Challenge. Dan Galat and Kelly Quesada invite all of us in the community to choose something you’d like to try and do for 100 days straight alongside them and our students!


We are still planning for a parent education evening led by our visiting Eurythmist Mr. Mark Ebersole. That date is still to come.

Urban Prairie Alumni Student Panel

Join us Tuesday, February 8th, at 6:30 pm, via Zoom, as a panel of Urban Prairie alumni discusses life after UPWS, followed by a Q&A session. Everyone is welcome. Bring your middle schooler! Alumni Student Panel link. 

Navigating High School Enrollment & Alumni Parent Panel

Join us Tuesday, March 8, at 6:30 pm, via Zoom, for a follow-up to the alumni panel with an adults-only information session on the High School Enrollment Process. Alumni parents will join us to answer your questions about their experience in navigating Chicago High School enrollment and parenting an Urban Prairie Alum. This Info Session and Q&A will be hosted by our Head of School Sharla Paul, who has graduated two UPWS alumni. Alumni Parent Panel Link. 

After School Programs Winter 2022

New After School Music Programs: Tuesdays February 8 – March 3

Middle School Songwriting Group

Led by board-certified music therapist April Hickey, students will learn steps and strategies for songwriting to use as a tool for meaningful self-expression, creative collaboration with a group, and as an engaging coping skill. This program is recommended for any Middle School student that loves music.

Grades 6 – 8

Times: Tuesdays, 3:20-4:20pm

Sign up fee: $250 for a 10 week session

Facilitator: April Hickey, MT-BC

Sign up in Operoo: www.operoo.com

Lower School Music and Wellness Group

Led by board-certified music therapist April Hickey, students will learn to express themselves in healthy ways, process emotions, and practice social skills by playing, improvising, moving, and talking about music.

Grades 1 – 5

Times: Tuesdays, 4:30-5:30 pm

Sign up fee: $250 for a 10 week session

Facilitator: April Hickey, MT-BC

Sign up in Operoo: www.operoo.com

Tuesday Aftercare Note:

Aftercare is nearly full on Tuesdays. If you will require aftercare until 4:30 pm in order for your student to join this Music and Wellness program, there is limited aftercare space available. The aftercare fee is an additional $250, for a total fee of $500 for the 10 week Music and Wellness Group program. The remaining Tuesday aftercare slots are first come, first served.

Board News

Dear Urban Prairie Community,

This week the Board announced our top-range 2022-23 Variable Tuition amounts, to ensure we are investing properly in the long-term sustainability of our school. If you’ve spent any time with me, then I’m sure you’ve heard me say that I’m here doing this work for my grandchildren .. and their grandchildren! This year’s tuition setting better values an Urban Prairie education relative to the urban realities of the Chicago independent school landscape and ensures it will be here for your grandchildren’s grandchildren.

  • To our Variable Tuition families I say: Don’t Panic! We mean it when we say Urban Prairie is committed to keeping our education within reach of all our current and future families. That’s why the Board adopted Variable Tuition in Spring 2020. Please know that our Variable Tuition model ensures that you pay what you are able to pay. We encourage all UPWS families to apply for Variable Tuition by following this link

Would you like to know more about school governance and the role of the Board? Reach out to me at danila….@urbanpairie.org.


Danila Miranda

President, Board of Trustees

Parent to David and Natalia UPWS’20 and Elena ’23

Community Connections Corner

Save the Date! March 9th Dine & Dance Party and Auction!

So excited and thankful to Joanna Serrano and Erika Castillo for offering their help as co-chairs! Both have students in Prairie Roots, and Joanna also has a student in grade 1. Keep a lookout for more details soon.😃

Calling all home chefs and bakers!

Thank you so much to everyone who’s already signed up!! These goodies you are making are such a thoughtful way to show you care. There are still some openings so check it out!  During these unpredictable times, let’s make life a little less stressful for the faculty and staff at Urban Prairie with Sweet Treats and Savory Delights! Thank you!


Color Team Potluck Feb

This month’s potluck for the Yellow and Green teams has been updated and will now be on Wednesday, Feb 16 ❤️ – Make it a Valentine’s Date!

First Friday Coffee

Q. What do you call it when cafe customers joke about their coffee?

  1. A brewhaha

Join us for the next First Friday Coffee on Feb 4th, at 8 am behind the goat shed!

Feeling like a little more community connection?

We’ve made a private Facebook group! This group is for discussions, reminders, open playdates, item donations, proud moments, and anything else we can think of. This link is available for 48 hours, but you’ll always be able to join.


Let’s Get Together!

Looking for someone’s contact to build community, connect with other families, get your children together to play? Find each other here!


Volunteer Opportunities

Have some time to lend a hand? Community Connections is always building our volunteer team and would love to have you! Please email me at anne.mc…@urbanprairie.org or come to one of our 1st Friday Coffees to chat.


Recess in Cold Temperatures

Please be aware that recess may be shortened or even canceled as we monitor the temperatures/wind chill factor to ensure safe outdoor time for students (see our guideline matrix here). A major factor in our decision-making is students having appropriate dress. Please be sure all students have hats, mittens or gloves, scarves, snow pants, warm coats, and boots!

Covid Notes

In-School COVID Testing

Please see the separate email about in-school COVID testing at UPWS beginning Friday, 1/28/22. You can register for testing here. Students will have tests done during the school day, and community members can register and be tested from 3 pm – 4 pm in Cricket Hall.

Vaccination Resources

  • This Saturday, Jan 22, 9am-2pm: UI Health is offering a Covid-19 Vaccination and Flu Shot Pop-Up Clinic this Saturday at the Pilsen Family Health Center Lower West, 1713 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60608, 312-413-4179. Registration is not required but appointments or additional info can be obtained at the UI Health Covid-19 Vaccine Scheduling Line, 833-53-MYVAX, M-F 8am-5pm.

  • Tuesdays, 9am-3:30pm: Healthy Hood (grade 2/EC parent Tanya Lozano’s nonprofit) offers vaccines and booster shots on Tuesdays at 2242 S Damen Ave.

  • IDPH has approved vaccine booster shots for 12-17 year-olds. Find a vaccine location for a booster shot here.

Testing Resources

  • Healthy Hood (grade 2/EC parent Tanya Lozano’s nonprofit) free testing Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm, anad Saturdays, 9am-4pm, 2242 S Damen Ave.

  • Free walk-in testing site, 140 S Ashland (Link)

  • Testing site near school, 1059 W Taylor Street (Link)

  • Loop Medical Center fast / free PCR tests, 1921 S Michigan (Link)

  • Free COVID Care at multiple sites (Link)

  • City of Chicago resources for finding tests: Link

  • Free At-Home Tests Through USPS: https://special.usps.com/testkits

Vaccination Status Updates

Is your student newly vaccinated? Please complete this updated Google Form or email ad…@urbanprairie.org with your student’s vaccination dates!

Attendance Procedure

Remember to please email or call if your student will be late or absent from school!

Please report the reason for an absence; if your child is experiencing symptoms we will continue to follow our current COVID protocols.

Outerwear Guidelines

As the weather fluctuates wildly, please send your students prepared with layers! Here is a temperature guideline, please dress for the low so they are prepared for whatever comes!

  • 70 degrees and warmer: Shorts, short sleeves

  • 65 – 70 degrees: Long pants required, short sleeves acceptable; long sleeves encouraged on cloudy and/or windy days

  • 50 – 65 degrees: Long sleeves required; jacket layering recommended

  • 40 – 50 degrees: Jacket required; additional layering recommended

  • 30-40 degrees: Multiple layers required; outermost layer must include winter jacket, hat, and gloves / mittens; scarf highly recommended for all ages / required for lower grades (EC – 3)

  • Below 30 and if snowy: Snow gear required – winter jacket, snow pants, hat, gloves / mittens, and boots


Rain: Please send rain jackets, pants, and boots on rainy days!

  • NO umbrellas

  • A full change of clothes kept at school, especially for younger students, will enable us to keep students dry and learning.


For curriculum and classroom-related questions and concerns, please start by contacting your class teacher or subject teacher.

Administrative questions may be directed to:

Dani Ruiz, Operations Coordinator


Sophie Baumgartner, Pedagogical Operations Coordinator


Sylvie Warfield, Pedagogical Operations Coordinator


AJ Lee, Director of Operations & Finance


Sharla Paul, Head of School


Jen Kang, Director of Curriculum & Instruction


Jenn Zielinski, Director of Enrollment Management