CHICAGO -- The Trust for Public Land today announced new education programs to guide Chicago children and teachers as they explore and learn from The 606, the Northwest side project that is transforming nearly three miles of unused rail line into the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, five ground-level access parks, arts and other amenities. The education components of The 606 are being designed by newly-named Exelon Fellow Jean Linsner, and will leverage the project's unique assets to benefit teachers, students and families at the 25 schools located along The 606, as well as the wider Chicago community.
Ms. Linsner was recently selected by The Trust for Public Land as The 606 Exelon Fellow, a unique two-year residency supported by a generous donation from Chicago-based energy company Exelon Corporation, working in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, the Chicago Park District, the Mayor's Office, Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Wilderness. Linsner brings more than 25 years of educational program design, planning and implementation, including work at The Chicago Architecture Foundation, YWCA, Brookfield Zoo, and the Chicago Academy of Sciences.
"With construction of The 606 in full swing, we are excited to welcome Jean Linsner as The Trust for Public Land's dedicated education specialist," Beth White, Director of the Chicago Region Office for The Trust for Public Land, said. "The 606 is bringing new ways of experiencing nature, sciences and the arts to Chicago, and we are so pleased to have Jean's experience in designing the engaging programming and resources that will connect learners of all ages to the project and their communities."
The new Exelon Fellow will work with the 25 schools adjacent to the park and trail system to integrate elements of The 606 into their curriculum. This includes researching, creating and implementing a variety of educational activities and resources for the schools at various locations along The 606 to engage students, teachers, families and local residents. Linsner will also work with members of The 606 Teacher Network, a newly created group of teachers that has been piloting lesson plans incorporating elements of The 606 into science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
"The 606 is an innovative project that promises to enhance education, the environment, and the quality of life in communities we serve," Steve Solomon, vice president of corporate relations at Exelon, said. "We're proud to have created the Exelon Fellow position to bring the experience of The 606 to life for thousands of students in our hometown of Chicago."
Exelon has been an early and strong supporter of The 606, contributing the project's largest gift - a $5 million donation -in 2012. In addition to funding the Exelon Fellow position, the company also will provide students and teachers at the 25 nearby schools opportunities and educational resources, including development of an environmental curriculum, to deepen their connection to the project.
The 606 park and trail system is the signature project of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to create 800 new parks, recreation areas and green spaces throughout Chicago over the next five years. This ambitious new park and trail system has the elevated Bloomingdale Trail as its centerpiece, connected to five ground-level parks as well as an observatory, wheel friendly event plaza, performance spaces, art installations and other amenities. Locally, the project will be an urban oasis for the 80,000 people, including 20,000 children, who live within a ten-minute walk. It is also planned as a citywide resource, a transportation alternative as well as a tourist attraction which is already garnering attention nationally and internationally. The Trust for Public Land is the lead private partner on the project, and is supporting the planning and implementation process in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District.
Linsner holds a B.A. in English and Telecommunications and a Master's degree in Education, both from Indiana University. She co-authored the teacher resource book Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Chicago's Amazing Architecture. Her work in the Chicago area has improved the lives of thousands of students, teachers, and families.