Kohl Children’s Museum and My Family: Still Growing Together

My children and the Kohl Children’s Museum grew up together. The museum opened in 1985 in Wilmette on Green Bay Road, next to the Walker Bros. Pancake House, about the same time that the second of our six children was born and we moved to the North Shore.

We quickly discovered that a morning spent at the museum followed by a maple syrupy Walker Brothers lunch was the perfect family outing. I toddled my way through 4 more pregnancies and about two decades of such merriment.

Kohl Children's Museum

Image courtesy of Kohl Children’s Museum

What I didn’t appreciate then was that my family was enjoying the labors of a visionary educator who also was bringing educational best practices to under-resourced kids too: Dolores Kohl. Through her education foundation, Kohl opened teaching centers, supported arts and education programs around the world, and launched a traveling literacy program called StoryBus.

“Children are the messages we send to generations that we will never see,” Kohl declared during my 2011 interview with her as explanation for her determined efforts, her blue eyes twinkling. Kohl is pretty brilliant. She’s brilliantly pretty, too.

The museum grew from one of the original teaching centers. The messages my kids absorbed there through interactive exhibits helped them learn to think critically, develop confidence, and become life-long readers and learners. The message that the world absorbed was that the museum was such a valuable resource it needed to grow. So Kohl stepped aside from her daily activities at the museum and hired strategic and persuasive Sheridan Turner as the next President and CEO. Turner had previously led a highly successful Museum of Science and Industry expansion.

In 2005, Kohl Museum moved to a new and much larger facility in Glenview. Turner gives substantial credit for this accomplishment to Rick Waddell, who served as Chairman of the museum’s board of trustees during the expansion. “We simply couldn’t have accomplished all of this without Rick’s extraordinary leadership,” Turner declares proudly.

Kohl Children’s Museum celebrates its 30th Anniversary this coming school year with a plethora of activities—starting with a September kick-off party at the stunning Burdeen’s Jewelry in Buffalo Grove, a not to be missed October 17 gala, and a Make It Better Shop For Good partnership just in time for holiday shopping.

Kohl Museum now serves over 330,000 visitors annually, provides extensive outreach programs in Chicagoland and beyond, consistently ranks as one of the top 10 children’s museums in the country, and is about to launch a pioneering program for veterans and their families.

Dolores Kohl’s vision has already touched an extraordinary number of children and families. The ripple effect to future generations will be a substantial gift to the world. And the museum is still growing.

Fortunately for me, our family is still growing too. The next generation was born in time to share in the 30th celebration too. I’m excited to take my grandson to the museum soon. I’ll miss having Walker Brothers right next door for a mighty dose of maple syrup though.

Make It Better is proud to be the media sponsor of the entire year of 30th Anniversary celebration activities. If the museum has touched your family too, we hope you will share the good news about this, and join us at one of the events, too.

Thank you.

Eat, Drink & Be Prudent – Sustainable Food & Water

Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune asks “Who Gives The Best Nutrition Advice?”

Although we live in an agricultural belt, next to the world’s largest supply of fresh water, we shouldn’t be complacent about our sustainable food and water future.

Sheri Latash, Henrietta Saunders, Roxanne Junge and Joan Ziegler of the League of Women Voters of Glenview have developed a wealth of expertise to help us build a more sustainable nutritional future.  More information is here.

Thanks to members of the League Of Woman Voters across the country, for continually helping our country craft make wiser political decisions.

Winning 8th Graders

Congratulations to the following 8th grade winners of the Glenview League of Women Voter’s Citizenship Essay contest. And thanks to the League and Glenview Bank for doing this!

§ Attea School – Grace Kilpatrick, award winner, and Cory Klapacz, nominator

§ Field School – Connie Chrones, award winner, and Allison Nelson, nominator.

§ Gemini School – Anatoly Tverdovsky, award winner, and Alan Theccanat, nominator.

§ Golf School – Terril Vallikilam, award winner, and Jeane Kim, nominator.

§ Springman School- Michael Poplowski, award winner, and Elizabeth Jortberg and Grace Moran, nominators

Big Blue – Burnham Example

The new Big Blue Swim School in Eden’s Plaza, Wilmette, brings to mind Daniel Burnham’s quote – “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood. Aim high in hope and work.”

Only a few years ago, Big Blue Co-Founder Chris DeJong was a University of Michigan swimmer, daydreaming about opening an indoor swim school for young children with warm, welcoming pools. Upon graduation, in Burhamesque fashion, he aimed high – straight for that dream – and used the same work ethic and team building skills which made him a college champion to bring his dream to life.

DeJong partnered with John Lonergan III, to launch a quickly successful swim instruction program in Glenview about 2 years ago, developed a business plan and financial support, and opened Big Blue last weekend. He grew from college swimmer to successful swimming entrepreneur in a few short years.

Al Segreti, Art Lutschaunig, Erin Lonergan & John Lonergan IV, Founder John Lonergan III, Founder Chris DeJong, Jessica DeJong, John Schoser


The cheerful facility with 91 degree – that’s right, 91 degree – water makes me yearn for young children again, with whom to enjoy it. Big Blue is sure to gleefully stir the imaginations and the swimming confidence of its young students.

Since DeJong and Lonergan make no small plans, it seems likely that there will be more success to come too.