For the first time in more than a decade, the children of a Kansas University chancellor will attend Lawrence public schools.
Leah Hemenway plans on spending a lot of time at her youngest son's school, starting next fall.
Hemenway, the wife of Kansas University's new chancellor, Bob Hemenway, volunteered to work in the school's media center or in Arna's second-grade classroom. Part of her motivation, she joked, is to get on the good side of Arna's teacher. The 7-year-old, she said, can be a handful.
"I'd always like to help in the classroom," Hemenway told Cordley School principal Tom Christie during a visit in his office Friday.
Hemenway said she was impressed with what she saw at Cordley and at Central Junior High, where her other son, Zack, 11, will attend seventh grade next year.
The Hemenways were in Lawrence to get educational issues settled and to look over the chancellor's residence, among other things. While Leah and Arna Hemenway talked with Christie, Zack and his father drove to Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., to watch the opening day of the Big Eight men's basketball tournament.
The boys attend school in Lexington, Ky., where their father is winding up his work as chancellor at University of Kentucky. The children will complete this school year in Lexington. They'll move to Lawrence around the first of June.
After getting what Christie called "the grand tour" of the 79-year-old Cordley, Arna provided a concise assessment: "It's pretty neat. I really like it."
And his mom did, too.
"We were really excited to see it was a neighborhood school and it was a small size -- and the diversity," she said.
Cordley, at 19th and Vermont streets, does have a diverse student population. Of its 250 students, about 21 percent are minorities. In addition, Cordley has a fairly large number of students with special needs, Christie said.
"It really gives the kids the opportunity to associate with the types of kids they will be exposed to when they leave here," Christie told Hemenway during a meeting in his office.
Hemenway asked about discipline. Christie said it's probably not as strict at Cordley as what Hemenway described at Arna's school in Lexington.
What about art? Arna loves art. At Cordley, students participate daily in either art, music or gym in addition to their academic work.
Do students have to pass tests to progress from one grade to another? No. Arna will be in second grade. Period.
Hemenway, whose expertise is English, said she hopes to volunteer at the school regularly.
"I'll be here as much as I can," she said.