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Information Guide

Educational Overview

Our school strives to prepare students to successfully participate in the discoveries and challenges of the future with the foundations of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, cultural competency, and character education. The school is dedicated to cultivating the unique nature and potential of each student and is committed to building a learning community enhanced by successful and appropriate interactions and work with all people, in recognition and celebration of the diversity in our world. We provide a nurturing and caring environment strengthened by a low teacher-pupil ratio. The school utilizes a personal learning approach that incorporates individual attention, hands-on experiential learning, and a challenging and well-rounded curriculum.

Our approach to education is based on our belief that students must learn how to think analytically, solve problems, utilize their strengths, face challenges, make good decisions, and communicate effectively, preparing them to successfully live in an ever-changing and diverse society. We seek to move our students beyond tolerating people different from themselves to engaging all people as valuable members of a global society. Their future depends on our willingness to expose them to - and coach them through - the realities of what it means to be ethical, inclusive, and human in a competitive, conceptual, and technological age.

We make every effort to ensure that our academic program is of the highest quality. We hire the best teachers, adopt the best curricula, remain open to change, and hold our school to the highest academic standards. A true willingness to listen and an engagement in professional reflection inform our quest for continual improvement, relevance, and accountability.


2019-2020 School year:
579 students / 83 teachers

Daily Schedule 2019-2020

Morning Half-Day Preschool

8:15 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Full-Day Preschool, Junior Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten

8:15 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Grades 1-4

8:15 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Grades 5-8

8:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Age Requirements for Early Childhood

Preschool Program: Children must be 3 prior to September 1

Junior Kindergarten: Children must be 4 prior to September 1

Senior Kindergarten: Children must be 5 prior to September 1


Located in Chicago’s Old Town, our 80,000 sq. ft. facility includes a new addition housing our expanded Library with a separate Storytime Room and a fireplace, three science labs, an AV production studio, an IDEA Lab, a Nurse’s Office, and more. The IDEA Lab includes a laser cutter and engraver, eight 3D printers, one 3D scanner, two specialty programmable sewing machines and eighteen regular sewing machines, a 15 ft. x 6 ft. interactive digital display wall, and more. We have two rooftop playgrounds, an Early Childhood Tinker Space, and a gymnasium with an elevated indoor running track. The gymnasium includes full-size volleyball/basketball courts, a performance stage, professional lighting and audio/visual equipment, bleachers, locker rooms, and a kitchen. There are two art studios with a kiln, two music studios, an art gallery, and a cafeteria. Across the street, there is studio space for performing arts and gatherings. All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboard technology and document cameras. Every child in Grades 1-8 is assigned a laptop or iPad computer. Early Childhood students have developmentally appropriate use of technology using iPads. The entire school has wireless technology.

Our Business Office and Advancement Office are housed in a separate building across the street from our school at 1402 N. North Park Avenue.


The Catherine Cook School is located at 226 W. Schiller Street, on the block surrounded by Wieland, Schiller, and North Park, one block west of Wells in the heart of Old Town. The school is less than two miles from the Chicago Loop. Catherine Cook School is accessible by public transportation on the number 22 Clark bus, the number 36 Broadway bus, and the number 156 LaSalle bus. It is a short walk from the Brown Line Sedgwick 'L' stop and from the Clark/Division subway stop on the Red Line. map


Metered parking can be found on Wells Street. Private parking is available at the Pipers Alley complex north of the school on North Avenue, as well as in the Cobbler Square lot on the SW corner of North Park Avenue and Schiller Street. Both parking facilities are privately operated and charge fees. Drivers may obtain a reduced rate parking ticket from the school's Main Office for stays of two hours or less in the Cobbler Square lot. Please note that residential parking rules are strictly enforced in the neighborhood around the school.

School Calendar 2019-2020

September 3

First Day of School

October 14

No School

November 3Admission Open House
November 11No School: Teacher In-Service Day
November 25-26No School: Parent-Teacher Conferences
November 27-29Thanksgiving Break
December 23 – January 3Winter Break
January 20No School: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
February 14No School: Teacher In-Service Day
February 17-21February Break
March 26-27

Half-Day on March 26 and

No School March 27: Parent-Teacher Conferences

March 30 - April 3

Spring Break

May 25No School: Memorial Day Holiday
June 4Last Day of School
June 5Eighth Grade Graduation

Preschool Information

FAQs: Half Day/Full Day Preschool

Q. What is the deadline for committing to a Half or a Full Day of Preschool?

A. We would like to have your choice selections before decisions are sent. Your choice will not impact our decisions; we need to know so we can send appropriate acceptance letters and contracts. The deadline for new siblings and currently enrolled Catherine Cook students is December 20, 2019 For new students, the deadline is January 17, 2020.

Q. What will my child be doing if s/he stays for the afternoon?

A. After nap/rest time, Preschool students will have recess, free choice time, and story time activities. After the Thanksgiving break, age-appropriate language, art, and computer science activities will be gradually introduced.

Q. Will we be able to choose fewer than five days a week for Full Day students to stay in the afternoons?

A. The Full Day is a five day program. Over time, Full Day curriculum will include projects that last over time and so children may feel that they are missing out if they are absent from afternoon sessions.

Lunch and Snacks in Preschool and Junior Kindergarten:

Q. How does lunch work?

A. All Preschool and Junior Kindergarten students will eat lunch in their classrooms. Parents can either sign up for the Lunch Program or send a lunch prepared from home.

Please do not send lunches with peanut butter, peanuts, coconut, or any kind of tree nuts to protect students with allergies.

Q. How do snacks work?

A. Catherine Cook will provide healthy vegetable, fruit, or grain snacks for Full and Half Day students (one morning and one afternoon snack). Once you enroll in our school, and when you have access to our Family Login, please click on the Magnus Health icon to complete your child’s Vital Health Record forms online. Please also make sure to inform your child’s teacher and the School Nurse of any food allergies or sensitivities so that we can ensure that our snacks are safe for every child.

Q. How do you handle allergies, health issues, and food sensitivities?

A. We encourage all families to learn about how to protect children with food and other allergies, asthma, and other health issues; to learn more see Catherine Cook Allergy Guidelines. Children wash hands with soap before snacks and lunch and after bathroom visits and recess; each classroom has a bathroom and hand sanitizer. Prior to the beginning of each school year, the School Nurse, teachers, and the Division Head will meet with families of children with allergies or other health issues to learn about your child’s specific health needs, and to develop an Allergy Action Plan or other protocols to keep your child safe and healthy at school.

Q. How do you handle naptime?

A. Preschool nap/rest time is scheduled for 60 minutes. We recognize that many three year olds may resist or not need to go to sleep but they need this quiet time to consolidate the learning and to refresh for the afternoon and evening. Children may lie down or sit on their cots and relax with a book if they do not sleep. Each child may bring three items for rest time comfort (e.g. a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a favorite book).

Junior Kindergarten nap/rest time is scheduled for 60 minutes at the beginning of the year with the expectation that this amount of time will diminish gradually over the year. Like preschoolers, four year olds may resist or not need to go to sleep. Children need quiet time to consolidate their learning and to refresh for the afternoon and evening. Children who do not sleep can relax with a book. Each child may bring three items for rest time comfort (e.g. a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a favorite book).

Preschool Schedule Choices

The schedule choices for Preschool for the school year are five days a week and will be offered as follows:

Full Day Program (8:15 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.)
Morning Half-Day Program (8:15 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.)