School furniture maker Sagus International has won a 2009 Outstanding Partnership Award from the Chicago Public Schools for the company’s donations that transformed classrooms in two very different schools into model 21st century learning environments.
Not only did Sagus’s generosity improve the learning environments at those two schools, it also served as the pilot program on which Sagus based its remarkable weekend makeover of embattled South Carolina school, J.V. Martin Junior High – a school dubbed by President Obama in his first State of the Union Speech as an example of what’s wrong in American education today.
In a stunning act of kindness, Sagus President and CEO Darryl Rosser, moved by the speech, visited the school, mobilized his company and suppliers, to deliver a $250,000 makeover of the crumbling school over a single weekend. (Watch the inspiring video)
The previous year in Chicago, Rosser showed his passion for boosting student achievement by investing about $100,000 to transform two schools, an effort that earned high praise from Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Secretary of Education. Duncan called the partnership a model of public-private collaboration.
Said Mr. Rosser, “We strongly believe that better classroom environments will result in improved educational outcomes.”
Sagus revamped specific classrooms at Payton College Prep and Harper High School with state-of-the-art furnishings that are mobile, colorful and ergonomically correct for the student’s working environment. The furnishings included chairs, desks, tables, mobile teaching walls, interactive whiteboards and storage cabinets. The result is a learning environment that is more responsive to student needs and facilitates creative teaching methods.
Sagus developed a close partnership with principals at the two Chicago high schools to collaborate on the scope of the makeovers. Sagus also received generous donations from a number of key partners, including: Legat Architects, headed up by Dennis Kluge (classroom and school design) and eInstruction (educational technology and assessment).
By improving learning environments, Sagus is boosting student learning and achievement.
“This has changed the way I teach,” says Payton chemistry teacher, Walt Kinderman. “Before, we had the kids somewhat isolated. Communication has certainly opened up by being able to move the tables, along with workable space. It just gives more surface area to perform the experiments.”
For more than 40 years, the Sagus group of companies has supplied furniture for elementary and secondary schools across the United States, but it was just one year ago, that the company challenged itself to focus on a mission that goes beyond selling furniture. By engaging directly with educators, Sagus learned more about the challenges facing today’s schools and became committed to developing model 21st century schools.