How does the school operate?

Recent History

Logo of Patronát české svobodomyslné školy TGM

Although our school and its building are more than 90 years old, they have recently received a significant increase in community and volunteer support, which has resulted in more classes, more events, and improved facilities. The revitalized T.G. Masaryk Czech School has excellent language, culture, and history classes for people of Czech ancestry as well as anyone interested in the Czech, Moravian, and Slovak cultures.

In 2012 the Foreign Ministry of the Czech government has recognized the contributions of our school and assigned an educator from the Czech Republic, Klára Moldová, to expand and improve the programs we offer for the entire Chicago area.

Language classes for all ages and level of expertise are at the forefront of our programs. We have two excellent teachers, native Czech-speakers Klara Moldova and Irena Čajková. Thanks to our links with the Czech government, our teachers now receive intellectual guidance from educational institutions in the Czech Republic as well as books and educational materials for use by our students. Our adult classes include a number of senior citizens, so we can truly say that we are providing lifelong education, from Kindergarten to retirement. Thanks to assistance from the Czech Consulate in Chicago, we have been able to supplement our culture and history classes with guest lecturers and performers from around the world. For example, Professor Morrison from the University of Illinois at Chicago recently offered a fascinating lecture on a Czech who made a major impact on science, Gregor Mendel.

Since we are Czechs, we have to take our classes beyond language, history, and culture and into the realm of cooking. The baking and cooking classes we have held in the past two years have shown that folks are interested in preparing the food as well as eating it. Visitors from the Czech Republic have conducted egg decorating and dessert-making classes and showed our participants techniques that “Grandma” had not passed down.

Being Czech we have to go beyond language, history and culture with our classes to cooking. The baking/cooking classes we have held in the past two years have shown folks are interested in preparing the food as well as eating it. Having visitors from the Czech Republic conduct egg decorating and dessert classes have brought out things “Grandma” had not passed down.

While the building is used for eight children's and adult classes, it also has rooms that are rented out for lodge meetings and receptions and an updated kitchen and yard are available. The building is now also home to the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum.

We urge everyone to investigate our school programs, cultural events, and our lovely building. To old friends who have not visited the facility and seen the many changes of the past five years, we say “come visit us again for the first time.“

How did the school come to being?

Early History

In April of 1872, several Bohemian immigrants in Chicagoland put together a charter document and created a group, the Freethinkers Bohemian School Association, which later filed for corporate status in the state of Illinois in March, 1897. Over the next 25 years, The corporation fostered several Czech language classes, mostly in Sokol buildings in Chicago and suburbs close to the Pilsen and East California areas. Jane Adams' Hull House was formed in 1889 just north of the Czech and Slovak settlements on the west side of Chicago, and there is evidence in the Hull House museum's records that Adams' organization helped to feed, house, and train some of these immigrant founders of our school.

In early 1877, the editor of the Bohemian daily Svornost gave lectures under the auspices of the Bohemian Freethinker's Society, particularly regarding a controversial incident in which a baby girl who died in 1876 was denied burial in a Catholic cemetery. This group gathered together many Czech fraternal organizations and led the way to the formation of the Bohemian National Cemetery of Chicago.

In addition to helping to found Bohemian National Cemetery, the BFS organized the Freethinkers Bohemian School Association and purchased a building in Morton Park (today's Cicero) in 1908. The school's current home at West 22nd Place was established in 1921 as the Patronát české svobodomyslné školy v Morton Park. In 1937, the organization filed to change the name to T. G. Masaryk Free Thinking School Association in Cicero, Illinois.

Opening of the T. G. Masaryk School in 1921
Opening of the T. G. Masaryk School in 1921

The Patron Organization of the Czech Free Thinkers School/T. G. Masaryk, Cicero, Illinois (as it is referred to in the 1962 rewrite of the Constitution and By-laws) is a not-for-profit with a 501(c)(3) tax status. For nearly a century, the association and its school have remained true to their educational, fraternal, and social purporses, maintaining the building and its facilities for community events and for education in Czech language and culture.