IPS’s third Center for Inquiry magnet program opened its doors in the fall of 2011 as a reconstitution initiative at Charity Dye Elementary School 27. For more information about the history of Center for Inquiry schools, please click the link to your left.
Charity Dye Elementary School 27 is tucked inside the Kennedy King neighborhood – a community with a rich history located just north of downtown Indianapolis. The school’s property is adjacent to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. From the playground, CFI students can view the Landmark for Peace, a memorial structure honoring Dr. King and Mr. Robert F. Kennedy. It commemorates the site where Kennedy spoke to the community on the evening that Dr. King was assassinated, one of our country’s most challenging days – April 4, 1968. Many credit Kennedy’s message of peace with helping Indianapolis to keep from violence in the days and weeks that followed.
Charity Dye Elementary School 27 gained international recognition in 1983 when fourth graders from the school’s chess team won the top prize at the U.S. Elementary School Chess Championship. Teacher Bob Cotter, Assistant Coach Len Wallace, and Principal John Patterson led “The Masters” to overcome many challenges to start the team and then win matches in major tournaments in the U.S. and Japan. Their success gained media attention, and the team was invited to celebrate with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. Their story was captured in the short film, “Masters of Disaster,” produced by Pat Wetmore in 1986.
In 2003, Charity Dye Elementary School received a National Blue Ribbon Schools Award – the first IPS school to achieve this honor in nearly 20 years. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program was established in 1982 to identify and recognize outstanding public and private schools in the United States. The school was honored because of its “extraordinary turnaround” – students’ ISTEP+ scores increased from 30% to 83% passing in five years.
Between 2004 and 2011, the student population and ISTEP+ scores at Charity Dye Elementary School 27 declined. IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White collaborated with Head of CFI Schools, Christine Collier, to create the district’s third Center for Inquiry at School 27 in 2011.
The current building was constructed in 1968, and has been most recently renovated in 2011. The original School 27 building located just south of the current site will soon be home to a neighborhood community center, developed by the Indianapolis Housing Agency and the neighborhood’s new 16 Park Apartments.
Who was Charity Dye?
Charity Dye was born in 1849 in Kentucky, attended public schools, came to Indianapolis in 1873 to study at Indianapolis Normal College, and began teaching at School 10 the following year. It was not until 1900 that she obtained a degree, from the University of Chicago.
She was transferred within a short time to Shortridge High School, where she gradually gained a reputation as a great English teacher. On a visit to England’s Oxford pageant early in twentieth century, she got the idea of producing plays in observance of historical events. She spent a summer directing a pageant at New Harmony, which was so successful that she was appointed to the state’s historical commission. In that capacity, she spoke in every county in the state in support of a memorial to pioneer women, and in urging suffrage for women. The William Penn pageant at Shortridge in 1912 was her last one.
Miss Dye was as effective as a civic leader, author, and popularizer of history and literature as she was in the classroom. She was the prime mover in the Plymouth Church’s institutes, and she lectured on historical topics to young people. She organized the Browning Society of Indianapolis, and she wrote numerous books, including The Story Teller’s Art and Once Upon a Time in Indiana.
She was active in almost every movement in Indianapolis for more than forty years that promised to make the schools better or the city a better place to live. She combined a love of cultural things with a practiced knowledge of social action that made her particularly effective in gaining results.
On Jun 10, 1912, The Shortridge Daily Echo, was dedicated to her, marking her retirement from the schools. Friends and fellow workers from many causes paid tribute to her, an outpouring that was repeated at her death in 1921.