Catalyst Students

Circle Rock Charter Admissions

Thank you for your interest in attending the Catalyst Schools—Circle Rock Charter. Here at Catalyst, we welcome all applicants regardless of background, educational level, or life circumstances. Our values-based, college-preparatory school nurtures academic, social, and emotional growth in Chicago students in grades kindergarten through eight. We are enthusiastic about your interest and we invite you to contact us at any point with questions or comments.

The Circle Rock Charter application process is simple. Download the application form (at right) and complete it in full. Mail or hand deliver the form to the office address at the bottom on the application form. Whenever the number of applicants for a grade level exceeds the number of vacancies in that grade level prior to or on the date of the application deadline, a lottery is held to determine which candidates get admitted. This is in accordance with the State of Illinois Charter School Law. While we accept applications on a rolling basis, we strongly encourage that you submit your child’s application by March 1 of the year of prospective enrollment.

Frequently Asked Questions

The mission of the Catalyst Schools states: Our college-preparatory schools partner with urban communities to offer K–8 students welcoming educational settings that nurture academic, social, and emotional growth.

If you are a parent or guardian committed to making certain your child gets a quality, private school education at a public school price and if you live in the neighborhood near either Howland Charter or Circle Rock Charter, you should apply.

The Catalyst Schools expect much from the children who attend. The program is rigorous, study is required, and standards of behavior and character are upheld. If you want a safe and disciplined environment for your child, you should apply.

The Catalyst Schools expect parents and guardians to be involved. We will ask you to attend conferences and special events, and to assist your child with homework each and every night. If you are willing to be an active participant in your child’s education and in the life of the school, you should apply.

Anyone who lives within the Chicago Public Schools District is eligible to attend the Catalyst Schools.

If a family lives outside of the boundaries of the Chicago Public Schools, they are not eligible to apply as a Chicago Public School family. Children who live outside Chicago Public Schools District can be admitted on a space-available basis but they will be required to pay the entire cost of their education.

There are no other impediments to enrolling in the Catalyst Schools.

The Catalyst Schools hold a lottery as needed each year in the early spring. If your child applied but did not get in this year, he or she will be placed on a waiting list. When a vacancy occurs at your child’s grade level, you will be called in the order of your date of application and can choose to move your child to Catalyst at that time.

In addition, a family is welcome to apply again the following year if a child was not admitted in the current year.

Yes, you may apply at both schools. Admission is, of course, on a space-available basis. If, through the lottery, spaces are filled, the child will be placed on the waiting list or will have to apply again in the coming year.

There is a deadline each year for applications to be submitted. In 2011 that deadline is March 24. The lottery will be held at Circle Rock Charter on April 8, 2011 at 9:00 am. The lottery will be held at Howland Charter on April 8, 2011 at 9:00 am.

Applications will be accepted after those dates.

Applications that are submitted before the deadline will either be the first admitted or included in the lottery.

Kindergarten applications submitted before the deadline will be included in the lottery (if there are more applicants than available seats). The purpose of the lottery is to make sure everyone is treated equally and fairly.

Each year Howland Charter admits 52 kindergarten students. Other students are admitted on a space-available basis and are taken first from the waiting list.

Each year Circle Rock Charter admits 56 kindergarten students. Other students are admitted on a space-available basis and are taken first from the waiting list.

Anyone living within Chicago Public Schools District may apply to the Catalyst Schools. There is no application fee. The Catalyst Schools are public charter schools.

Unlike the traditional public schools, charter schools have more freedom to determine their own calendar, schedule, curriculum, code of conduct, field trip policies, hiring practices, compensation, and budget. And yet, a charter school is a public school authorized in Illinois by the state. In essence, these schools bring competitive options and fresh ideas to the public school landscape.

Charter schools are held to high performance standards. Students at charter schools are required to perform well on the ISAT, to meet Illinois State standards, and to have a minimum of 75% of the teachers certified. The charter schools are accountable for their finances and long-term sustainability.

The Catalyst Schools are different because we have come out of a faith tradition that brings a set of values tested through the centuries — and these values form the basis of the educational philosophy supporting our schools. That said, the Catalyst Schools do not proselytize or evangelize. We observe the prohibition against religion and neither promote nor inhibit the free exercise of religious belief. We simply believe that being good students and good people go hand in hand.

At the Catalyst Schools, we recognize that the key to a high-quality education is a faithful and zealous teacher who is in healthy relationship with each child. It is this relationship that is sacred and in which the child gives the educator the right to be called teacher, mentor, and guide.

At the Catalyst Schools, we find that it’s essential to develop not only the mind but also to touch the heart of each child — and all of this can be done through a solid and rigorous academic program. It is essential to educate the whole child and this includes character formation for good citizenship and for the growth of positive peer and familial relationships.

Character formation is encouraged through a program called Character Counts. Through this program, the six pillars of character are taught and promoted, and children are expected to model each character trait throughout the school day.

The six pillars of character:

  • Fairness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Caring
  • Citizenship


  • There is direct instruction about these traits.

  • Teachers and staff model the traits in their behavior and relationships.

  • The school actively works to form a model educational community.

  • Symbols of the character traits are found throughout the school.

  • Classroom projects may focus on the traits.

  • One trait may be featured each month.

  • Children who model the trait in a special and extraordinary way are recognized at a school assembly.

  • Discipline is viewed as rooted in the six pillars of character and all discipline is viewed primarily as an opportunity to teach and to learn.

The Catalyst Schools believe the first and primary teachers of the children are the parents and guardians. Parents and guardians are invited to allow the school to assist in raising up children who have the intellectual and moral skills to be successful in the world and to be positive influences for good in society.

Points of Contact

Community Outreach

Sharon Morgan

5608 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60644

Phone: 773-726-1691
Fax: 773-854-1635
Admissions Clerk

Melvina Campbell

5608 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60644

Phone: 773-945-5025
Fax: 773-854-1635

The Schools

The Catalyst Schools include the campuses of Circle Rock Charter and Howland Charter.

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The Catalyst Schools welcome applications from students of all background and from all Chicagoland neighborhoods.

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The Catalyst Schools are able to fulfill their mission thanks to the generosity of our donors.

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