Language and Culture
A recent addition to CPS, Karen is an expert in creating successful programs for culturally and linguistically-diverse students. She is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Concordia University and has worked as a teacher, administrator, Bilingual Director and Division Administrator for the Illinois State Board of Education. She was also educated in Mexico City and Seville, Spain, so has an ample understanding of the challenges faced by English Language Learners and the role of language and culture in society.
As Chief Officer for Language and Culture, Karen works to help students achieve global academic proficiency while fostering a cross-disciplinary appreciation for diverse languages and cultures. Her expertise in this area has earned her invitations to bilingual forums worldwide, and has led her to present at state and national summits, where she has spoken eloquently on numerous topics such as the need to increase achievement levels among Latino students.
Q. Why should students aspire to know more than one language?
A. My family, of course, which includes my husband, our two daughters, and our six grandchildren, ages 11 to 6 months. I also love the study of anthropology and art history, particularly indigenous cultures, as I believe they hold a lot of wisdom for the problems our world faces today.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
A. My husband and I try to really enjoy Chicago. We have several museum and theater memberships, and of course we love walking along the lakefront.
Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your decision to work as an educator?
A. My high school English teacher, Ms. Cordero. She had a big impact on me and helped turn me toward becoming an educator. She praised me for my patience, and for my ability to break down complex problems and help my fellow students understand things better. Those words were always in the back of my mind as I was deciding what I wanted my career to be.
Q. What excites you about the work you are leading at CPS?
A. I was very excited to join CPS this spring, as it is a unique and fabulous district. With strong legislative voices, as well as university partnerships and parent advocates, Chicago has the potential to lead the nation in preparing students for success in a global society. I think we are well on our way to achieving that goal and look forward to taking us further.
- Hometown: La Grange, Illinois
- Favorite Leisure Activity: Gardening
- Favorite Style of Music: World Music, especially Latin-American
- Pets: Two dogs, Kit-Kat and Dora
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