College and Career Success
In her current role with CPS, Aarti strives to ensure that every student at every grade level is engaged, on-track, and accelerating toward success in college, career and life. As Chief Officer for College and Career Success, she is responsible for driving strategies around attendance and truancy, drop-out reengagement, out of school time, social and emotional learning, college and career planning, and early college and career acceleration coursework.
Aarti joined CPS in 2007 and has contributed in several leadership capacities prior to her current role, including serving as Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) for over three years and Deputy Chief of Staff to CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in 2012-13.
Q. Who inspired you to pursue a career in education?
A. It was my parents, who grew up in Uganda and lost everything in the early 1970s when all Asians were expelled from the country. They came to Chicago with almost nothing, but always told me that education was the one thing that no one could ever take away from them. It was what enabled them to be self-sufficient and rebuild their lives in a new place, so they always emphasized its importance to me.
I was also fortunate to grow up with access to a high-quality public education, but as I got older and began working with young people in other districts, I saw first-hand that not every public school student was that lucky. The issue of equitable access to quality public education for all children became a passion of mine and eventually the focus of my career.
Q. Is there a professional accomplishment of which you are particularly proud?
A. This past year in the Office of College and Career Success has been amazing. We have a tremendous team, and quality partnerships that strengthen all that we do. I’m proud of what we have supported schools and Networks with this year, including improved attendance rates, suspension and expulsion reductions, more scholarship awards, expanded STEM and IB programs, and more students gaining access to early college and career credentials. These wrap-around services are a critical component of meeting our students needs and helping them succeed, and it is an honor to be a part of this exciting work.
Q. What are you passionate about personally?
A. Being there for my family, which includes my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. They are all inspiring in their own ways, and I love having them nearby. I am also passionate about supporting those in my community who are less fortunate.
Q. What do you like to do in your free time?
A. I like to run and watch just about any sport, and I’m always up for trying a new restaurant. I’m also a mild TV addict – I unwind to a different show every night.
Q. How would you want to be remembered for your work at CPS?
A. As someone who was relentlessly focused on what was best for students. Someone who set high standards and believed they were possible, and someone who put building and supporting a great team at the forefront of my priorities. More than anything, I’d want to be remembered as someone who developed strong leaders and sustainable systems that could continue positive trajectories in the work when I’m not around.
- Hometown: Barrington, Illinois
- Favorite Book: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- Favorite Movie: “A League of Their Own” and “The Princess Bride”
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