Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School's Principal, Jackie Miller, To Deliver Keynote Address at 2023 ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference Hosted By Northwestern University

Bennett Day School is thrilled to announce that Jackie Miller, Principal, has been selected as the opening keynote speaker at the 22nd annual ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference. She will be joined by five panelists, and fellow Bennett faculty members, Andy Rodgers, Emily Fields, Lisa Kennedy, Molly Simmons, and Zak Thompson. 

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day High School Student & Team Win First Place in the National Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) Design and Construction Contest

The team of students, Chicago Team 11, came together through ACE Mentor Chicago – a program that supports and inspires students interested in architecture, construction, and engineering. Chicago Team 11 earned a $5,000 prize for their design for a “school of the future.”


Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day High School Students Win National "Space for the Benefit of Earth Challenge" and Visit Blue Origin Rocket Factory

Bennett students represent two of ten teams selected from across the country to attend inaugural O’Neill Symposium with Blue Origin, the Club for the Future, and the Conrad Challenge.


Crain's Chicago

The West Town Chamber of Commerce to Exhibit Bennett Day School's PEACE Project, 'Sunflowers of Peace'

“Led by the school’s 1st-8th grade art teacher, Olenka Bodnarskyj, the PEACE Project’s ‘Sunflowers of Peace’ highlights art as a form of activism and encourages students to express their concept of peace through their artwork…”

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Breaks Ground on Next Phase of Expansion

In eight years, Bennett Day School has grown from 23 students to nearly 320. Construction of the new South Wing will increase the school’s capacity for students to 600, and it will include two floors of additional rooms and labs, garage parking, and 20,000+ sq. ft. of athletic/assembly facilities.

Crain's Chicago

Blue-Bot Delivery Service at Bennett

Bennett Day School’s Early Childhood TES (Tinkering & Engineering Sciences) Lab was featured as a Terrapin Customer Story. Learn how Bennett students are engaging with Blue-Bots in their explorations.

Crain's Chicago

Cameron Smith Talks Project-Based Learning on The School Success Podcast

In this episode of The School Success Podcast, Mitchell Slater talks to Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School’s co-founder and CEO, about Bennett’s unique, project-based approach to education.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School to Welcome Families from Greenfields Academy

After eight years of providing students with an innovative, student-driven approach to learning, Greenfields Academy in Chicago has made the difficult decision to close its doors at the end of the 2021-22 school year. Bennett Day School has extended a warm welcome to their community of learners.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Named a Recipient of the Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations

“On behalf of the entire Bennett community, I’d like to thank NBOA and the awards committee for recognizing us as a recipient of the Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations,” says Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School CEO, Co-founder, and parent.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Named a Recipient of the Jeffrey Shields Award for Innovation Excellence in School Business Operations

Each year, the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) recognizes three schools from across the country that have demonstrated innovation in school business operations through approaches, programs, or practices.

Crain's Chicago

How to Pick the Best Summer Day Camp for Your Child

Bennett Day School’s Director of Auxiliary Programs, Cally Vevers, shares tips all parents can use to help kids get back to a fun-filled summer.

Crain's Chicago

CPS students return to classrooms for 1st time in a week as CTU members approve COVID agreement

While working on a story related to Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Evelyn Holmes with ABC7 Chicago stopped by Bennett Day School to interview a few members of our leadership team and a Bennett Day School parent about the current Chicago school landscape.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Joins the Alliance for Early Childhood

Bennett Day School has officially joined the Alliance for Early Childhood (AEC). The AEC is an Early Childhood Network of schools that offers an array of professional development opportunities, parent workshops, and Reggio-inspired community play events for families. 

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Announces Leadership Appointments

As Bennett Day School begins a new school year, the team announces new leadership appointments. Based in West Town, Chicago, the progressive school has appointed Jackie Miller as Principal, Chief Academic Officer and Kimberly Burks as Director of Intermediate and Middle School.

Crain's Chicago

Fox 32 Chicago Talks to Allison Bartolozzi about Bambini & Me

Allison Bartolozzi, early childhood educator at Bennett Day School, talks to Fox 32 Chicago about Bennett’s Bambini & Me playdates and explains how parent & tot programs like this can strengthen cognitive skills and social-emotional development for pandemic-era children.

Crain's Chicago

Stop Sign Coming To Dangerous West Town Intersection After Fourth-Graders Protest

“Bennett fourth-graders Sienna Martin, Finn Connell, Nia Simone Hall and Emily Tarshis led the protest, the school’s second in two weeks. And their hard work paid off: After protesting, sending letters and delivering petition signatures to Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), the sign is being installed next week, the alderman said.”

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day Upper School Students Win Newhouse Architecture + Design Competition

Two tenth graders at Bennett Day, Alex H. and Jasmin H., recently won the overall grand prize of the 39th Annual Newhouse Architecture + Design Competition.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Student Receives Ewing-Jones Scholarship

Started by Chicago poet and author Eve L. Ewing and her husband Damon Jones, the scholarship will support Abby in attending the Leadership Academy at the W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Institute this summer, hosted through Princeton University

Crain's Chicago

CEOs Speak: Shaking Their Fists At COVID-19

Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School CEO & Co-Founder, was interviewed by Charlie Katz for his “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy” series. View an excerpt from this interview on page 90.

Crain's Chicago

What Moves Education Forward at Bennett Day School

“Parents know better than anyone how disruptive the coronavirus pandemic has been — and continues to be — for children. With a goal to do what is safest and most beneficial for all students, Bennett Day School, a PreK-12 independent school in Chicago’s West Town, faculty and administrators met the challenge with a measured, scientific approach.”

Crain's Chicago

Female Disruptors: How Dr. Kelly Page of Bennett Labs Is Shaking Up Remote Learning

Dr. Kelly Page, Director of Bennett Labs, was interviewed as part of Authority Magazine’s series about women who are shaking things up in their industry.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Advocates for New College Admissions Process

“This summer, Bennett Day School accepted an invitation to join the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), a growing network of more than 300 public and private schools seeking to pivot away from the conventional letter-grade transcript towards a more qualitative and holistic transcript that better illustrates a student’s growth, experience and interests”

Crain's Chicago

We Spoke to Cameron Smith of Chicago’s Bennett Day School on How to Rebuild in the Post COVID Economy

Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School CEO & Co-Founder, was interviewed by Charlie Katz for his “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy” series.

Crain's Chicago

“Don’t wait.” With Charlie Katz & Cameron Smith

“Don’t wait. Don’t be paralyzed. Do as much scenario planning as you can. I have to say, having a plan, even though it is so detailed with so many different decision tree points and scenarios to consider, feels much better than not having a plan at all. 

Crain's Chicago

Cameron Smith of Chicago’s Bennett Day School: How We Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID World

Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School CEO & Co-Founder, was interviewed by Charlie Katz for his “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy” series.

Crain's Chicago

Care Bears features Bennett Day School on Instagram

Care Bears featured our very own Mr. Ray as a Camp Care Bears “Guest Counselor.” In this Instagram video, he shares a fun and easy air-dry clay tutorial!

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School's Hands-On Approach to Learning

“Cameron Smith wanted to send his two sons to a school where they could learn by doing — a place that didn’t limit students to sitting at their desks listening to a teacher lecture throughout the day. So, he founded Bennett Day School, a Chicago-based private, progressive school for children in preschool through 12th grade.”

Crain's Chicago

WGN's "Around Town" features Bennett Day School Camp At Home

During this segment of “Around Town,” WGN’s Ana Belaval chatted with Cally Vevers, Bennett Day School’s Director of Auxiliary Programs, about Bennett Day Camp At Home.

Crain's Chicago

Small Business Profile: Bennett Day School

In the spring of 2020, the West Central Association – Chamber of Commerce (WCA) interviewed Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School CEO and Co-Founder.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day School Closes March 13 to Protect Health and Well-Being of Community

Before the Governor made the decision to close all Illinois schools, Bennett Day had already made the difficult decision to close effective end-of-day (6:00pm) on Friday, March 13.

It is the school’s steadfast view that even just one child, parent, grandparent, teacher, or administrator in harm’s way is now too many.

Crain's Chicago

"5 Private School Myths Debunked" featuring Principal and Chief Academic Officer, Kate Cicchelli

Parents want to give their children the best start. That’s why many families opt for a private school education.

But parents may not consider private schools because of some commonly held myths. Here are five misconceptions about private schools along with the myth-busting realities.

Crain's Chicago

Bennett Day Co-founder and CEO, Cameron Smith, included among Crain's Chicago Business Notable Entrepreneurs

After becoming parents, Cameron Smith and his wife began thinking about their son’s education. Smith concluded that there weren’t many options for progressive, independent schools in Chicago and found that many families move to the suburbs when their kids reach school age, even when they would prefer to live and work downtown. That led to his starting Bennett Day School, an independent K-12 school in West Town.

Crain's Chicago

100 Years Ago, This West Town Private School Building Was A Center Of Social Reform

Bennett Day School was featured on WBEZ Morning Shift’s “What’s That Building?” series.

“At the corner of Grand and Morgan in West Town stands a connected pair of five-story buildings — one a commanding red-brick and the other a contemporary brick, metal and glass. Together, their histories illustrate how the surrounding neighborhood has changed over the last century.

The private Bennett Day School moved into the older building in 2016 and the newer building is an expansion that’s set to open this fall. But before it was a private school with a new wing, the building offered gathering spaces and educational services to families in need.”

Crain's Chicago

“A better parent is one that can teach and demonstrate a growth mindset”, with Cameron Smith and Dr. Ely Weisnchneider

As a part of a series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” Thrive Global interviewed Bennett Day CEO, Cameron Smith. Cameron was inspired to create Bennett Day School after the birth of his first son in 2010. As a new parent, he recognized that there are very few options for progressive independent schooling in Chicago. Both the motivation to innovate and a commitment to the city inspired the creation of Bennett Day School.

Crain's Chicago

Bootstrapping in America: Cameron Smith of Bennett Day School

Bennett Day School is a progressive school whose mission is to provide a collaborative culture that nurtures children’s innate sense of inquiry & curiosity. Cameron Smith is the Co-founder & CEO. He is a licensed attorney who didn’t like what he saw when looking for a school for his kids, so he took action and launched Bennett Day in 2014. It now has over 200 students and growing.
Crain's Chicago

4 important lessons our school learned about competency-based learning

Martin Moran, Director and Lead Designer of Bennett Day Upper School, discusses the value of competency-based assessment.

“…times have changed. In the last 10 years, a school’s ability to dig deep into the specific skill sets of students and provide meaningful information about their strengths and challenges has grown dramatically. Through competency-based education, we can now provide more relevant, personal assessment for each student and use that assessment to truly develop an equitable model of student success—as long as we are willing to accept innovation.”


Crain's Chicago

"10 Funny Gifts For Kindergarten Class" features Bennett Labs' Story Dealer

Creative content platform, Fupping, recently featured Bennett Labs’ Story Dealer cards as one of their top ten gifts to give kindergartners.

“Going from daycare to school is a rough transition for most kids…there’s a lot for kids to enjoy about kindergarten. And you and the rest of the parents can help with this transition by throwing a party for the kindergarten class to enjoy! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it absolutely must have gifts. Don’t know which? Take a look at the best gifts to give to a kindergarten class right here.”

TEDx Talks

The Ways Local Schools are Innovators in Education

“Whether they are using innovative smartphone apps or teaching kids face-to-face mediation techniques, schools around the Chicagoland area are finding innovative ways to help students. At Bennett Day School, students and teachers work together to create a digital portfolio that goes beyond a traditional report to create a holistic look at the student’s academic progress.”
TEDx Talks

How This Rockstar PE Became a Rockstar CEO

Not many PE’s hang up their investment hat & switch sides to start a business from scratch.

But Cameron Smith did it. And here’s how.

With a decade of Private Equity experience & Kellogg MBA in-hand, Cameron had a big idea: Create an innovative way to educate students.

And he’s done it with Bennett Day School, one of Chicago’s premier private schools.

In this 20-minute interview, Cameron reveals why he made the switch, the things he’s learned about recruiting & building a team, and the mistakes he’s made.

Crain's Chicago

Schools take Broad Approach to Social Media

“‘Social media is not going away,'” says Martin Moran, lead designer and director of the upper school at Bennett Day School, Chicago. Teaching kids about social media is like teaching fish about water, he says. “‘Social media is everywhere.'”

Bennett Day School conducts official outreach to the wider community using several social media sites, including Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. The school currently offers pre-kindergarten-4th grade. A high school program opens next year. A lower grade is also being added each year. The school is in the West Loop and has 190 students.”

How do you hang a virtual finger painting on the fridge?

“Lunch is still important, judging from the Bennett Day School, a new private elementary on West Grand Avenue.

‘It’s part of a dialogue between the students and teachers,’ said director of admissions Amanda McQuade, noting teachers eat with their students, teaching them how to converse and conduct themselves. Eating is carefully integrated into the curriculum; for instance, kindergartners eat in their room.”

Crain's Chicago

Private Schools Adopt Personalized Approach to Learning

“Heather Boran is the mother of twins, but they’re not very much alike. Her daughter is passionate, spirited and sensitive, while her son is fun-loving and deliberate. She wanted a school for her children that would treat them like individuals.

Boran was lucky to find just such a place at Bennett Day School, a relatively young and quickly growing private school in Chicago focused on learning through experience.”

TEDx Talks

How do you create a school that inspires creativity?

“Martin Moran discusses how to create a high school where adolescents can be creative and motivated. Lead designer and Director of the Upper School at Bennett Day School in Chicago This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.”

The Best of Both Worlds: New Independent School Models Smash Traditional Boundaries

“The atmosphere at Bennett Day is “unabashedly progressive,” Cicchelli said, both in its pedagogy and outlook. Under the Reggio Emilia approach, questioning and willingness to change are imperative. “In a new school, we constantly have to look at what we are doing and how it will lead to skill-building,” she said. “We have a set of developmental milestones, but we don’t have a fixed curriculum we repeat every year. It’s a lot of work because you are constantly reinventing but it means you are constantly responding to the people in the room.”

Bennett Day School - BLDD Architects, Inc.

“Bennett Day school programmed the interior shell of a historic Chicago building to serve as their flagship school.
The flagship campus building, formerly known as Chicago Commons, was built in 1900 as a settlement house. It now houses one of the most progressive educational environments in the city.”

What Will Tomorrow’s Lab Schools Look Like? Northwestern Partners With Day School to Find Out

“What happens when some of the brightest minds in the country sit down with elementary school students to problem solve? Sometimes, they learn something. At least, that’s the goal of Northwestern University’s new partnership with Chicago-based Bennett Day School, which Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) posted an article about last week.”

Northwestern collaborates with Chicago K-12 school to bring new technology to classrooms

“The partnership is led by SESP Prof. Michael Horn and Bennett Day School teacher Frances Judd, who are both part of TIDAL Lab, a group that researches innovative, technology-based education. Northwestern faculty and students work with children to teach them technology skills and test prototypes for educational devices, Horn said.”

Osmo Coding: The Innovative Coding Program Being Taught in a Chicago Area Classroom

“City kids need learning spaces where they can feel in control, and where they can innovate to solve problems. At Bennett Day School in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, we embed early robotics, coding, and STEM investigations into our TinkerLab explorations. We also take neighborhood walks and navigate our city grid in a manner that is similar to the onscreen programming grid in Osmo Coding.”

New Bennett Day School Takes Child-Led Approach

“Bennett Day School founder and CEO Cameron Smith describes the school as the kind that families knew they wanted but it did not exist. “School is meant to be a community where students and teachers construct learning together,” Smith said.”

Five Chicago area schools getting education "right"

“Parents shouldn’t expect school to be like it was when they were students. “What we’ve learned about the young brain in the past 20 years is amazing and has flipped the experience,” says Meg Fitzgerald, early childhood director at Bennett Day School in Chicago. “Good teaching is about learning processes, not just fact-based learning. And we know that real-world experiences are more beneficial than worksheets, because what’s personal to kids is what gets ingrained.”

Learning Scientists Partner with Bennett Day School

“What happens when inventive children work side-by-side with university students on a design problem? Northwestern University researchers are testing the idea with Chicago’s Bennett Day School, an innovative partnership that aims to redefine what a traditional laboratory school might look like.”

9 Tips for Finding the Perfect School for Your Child and Family

“There’s a school out there for every family,” Smith says. He notes, however, that “it is hard for a school to be all things to all people.” He recommends that families make a list of their own top five priorities and use that to guide their search. Finding a school that does those five things exceptionally well will be a better fit than a school that tries to do everything.

Private School Planner - Bennett Day School

Bennett Day School provides a nurturing environment and learning community that fosters depth of knowledge, adaptive academic and social skills, physical well-being, and drive to ask and answer questions.  The curriculum is designed to advance development in five primary educational outcomes: academic skills; communication and collaboration; innovation and meta-cognition; social responsibility; and advancement to continued education.”

Chicago Area Schools Preparing Kids to Lead Us All Into the Future

“It’s difficult to know exactly what the future will look like,” says Kate Cicchelli, principal at Bennett Day School in Chicago’s West Loop. “Tomorrow’s leaders will need to be nimble, adaptive and strong collaborators.”

Picture On Single Parenting and Loving My Job

“Over a year later, I know I am a better mother because of the work I do. I try to teach Bea to love what she does, to seek what she wants from life, and to find the people who can help her make that happen. Now I have Bea, the love of my life, and Bennett Day, the professional opportunity of a lifetime. I go to work every day ready for the challenges. Every day isn’t perfection, but I’m not interested in perfection. I like the mess….” – Kate Cicchelli, Principal and Co-Founder of Bennett Day School

Do Building Blocks of Computer Programming Begin in Preschool?

These are exciting times in the field of early childhood education. Creative teachers are discovering effective ways to offer children a healthy blend of sensory-rich tactile investigations, artistic creativity, meaningful collaborations, and high-tech tools geared toward problem solving and documenting a child’s work/play.

Private School Planner - Bennett Day School

“Imagine a school where children as young as three can tinker with and master materials aligned with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math). That ideal drove former venture capitalist Cameron Smith and veteran independent school educator Kate Cicchelli to open Bennett Day School…”

Private Schools Grow in the Chicago

“Bennett teachers are using a Montessori-like approach to education, called Reggio Emilia. The school also has a TinkerLab – a Silicon Valley trend that emerged from the Maker movement that believes people should be creators, not consumers…”

Neighborhood Parents Network preps anxious parents for Chicago school applications

“Bennett Day School is growing very quickly, adding a grade a year through eighth grade. They’re currently in Fulton Market, but they’re converting a giant, beautiful old building on Grand Avenue into an awesome high-tech school. (PDF)

Creating an Extraordinary Education, Chicago Life With the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Chicago Life

“In the spirit of Malaguzzi and Progressive Education, Chicago educator Kate Cicchelli and visionary Cameron Smith co-founded the Bennett Day School, an independent, Reggio inspired, K-8th grade school…”

JUF Chicago 36 Under 36 Update

“When he was named to Oy!Chicago and JUF’s Young Leadership Division’s inaugural 36 under 36 list, Cameron Smith had only dreamed of what the next great Chicago day school would look like. Two years later, the school has not only opened its doors, but quickly become a bustling learning environment…”

How a New School Incorporates Principles of the Lean Startup

“Bennett Day School, which opens late this month in Chicago’s West Loop, plans to offer the self-guided Reggio Emilia learning approach to students in early childhood through middle school…” (PDF)

Bennett Day Gets Flagship Campus, Globe Street

“Smith plans to open the flagship campus by the fall of 2016. Like the Grand location, it will use the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. The approach was developed in post-WWII Italy and gives students some control over their course of study, gets parents closely involved, and makes sure students have access to lots of natural light and common areas called piazzas. In addition, the building will have a full-size gym, multiple TinkerLabs, and over 10,000-square-feet of green space…” (PDF)

West Loop Day School Plans Campus Around Commons Building

“Development in the West Loop can’t stop and won’t stop. Add to it a large new day school campus that will call the historic Chicago Commons building its new home…” (PDF)