As part of the activity, more than 400 Chicago-area business and community members – including the eight Olympians -- served as volunteer teachers as part of the second annual “Teacher for a Day” event held in 300 Chicago public elementary and high schools throughout the city.
“I think almost everyone in education agrees that the most important factor in how a student performs in school is the teacher in the classroom. We are fortunate in Chicago to have thousands of professional classroom educators whose dedication to our children’s future is complete and whose work is of the highest quality,” Daley said in a news conference held at Peirce School of International Studies, 1423 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
The Mayor was joined by representatives of the Chicago 2016 Committee which is observing “Olympic Week in America” with a school-based program of classroom lessons focused on Olympic ideals and values created by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Chicago 2016 recruited more than 50 elementary schools to participate in a specially designed weeklong program of activities that teaches students about the Olympic and Paralympic Games with a focus that reinforces their skills in language arts, social studies, math, science and physical education. The program includes lesson plans and a guide to conducting a school field day, complete with opening and closing ceremonies.
“One of the main reasons why we’re pursuing the Olympic and Paralympic Games is because of the lasting legacy they’ll leave to the children of Chicago and the world,” Daley said.
“Right in the Olympic Charter it says the goal of the Olympic Movement is ‘to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit,’” he said.
By creating the classroom program and supporting “Teacher for a Day,” Chicago 2016 is helping spread those ideals to Chicago’s young people, Daley said.
Teacher for a Day, a joint project of the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools, gives business and community members a better understanding of the work of CPS teachers by providing them a first-hand look into a classroom.
“Teachers have an undeniable and powerful impact on our students’ lives,” said Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools. “Teacher for a Day gives those who work outside the classroom a close-up look at the student-teacher relationship, and it also gives our teachers the visibility and recognition they deserve.”
Last year, when TFAD was a pilot program, 60 Chicago-area business and community members participated. This year, that figure is 415. Unlike “Principal for a Day”—an annual CPS event that focuses on the entire school and encourages donor relationships between corporate visitors and host schools—Teacher for a Day aims to give visiting teachers an inside look at the hard work that CPS teachers do in their classrooms, and it also lays the foundation for a personal connection between the guest teacher and the classroom visited.
“TFAD is not for people who already are deeply involved in our schools, or for teachers and former teachers,” said Rufus Williams, President of the Chicago Board of Education. “We want to engage those who are unfamiliar with our schools, to show them the amazing things that our educators are doing every day.”
A TFAD participant must be an employee or member of an established organization or business, and an individual with the capacity to continue contact with his or her assigned classroom and provide assistance to the classroom during the year.
During the TFAD visit, a guest teacher can co-teach a lesson prepared by the classroom teacher, observe a class, assist a class by working with groups of students on a specific project, host lunchroom duty, and/or eat lunch with the students.
The TFAD day starts when the school bell rings in the morning. Elementary school TFADs end their day with an informal lunch at the school that they visit. The lunch gives the guests, and their host teachers, an opportunity to talk about the day’s experience and how the experience influenced the visitors’ impression of what it means to be a CPS teacher.
High school TFADs, to the extent possible, are matched, by career expertise, to classrooms with a corresponding focus. For instance, physicists likely are to be connected with physics teachers, and bankers or economists with math or economics teachers. High School TFADs end their day around noon with an informal lunch.
“Speaking as an educator, I’m aware some people don't realize that teachers, the people closest to the kids, face great challenges and are under tremendous stress in educating today's students. If you really want to see what education is all about then you really need to be a teacher for a day,” said Marilyn Stewart, President of the Chicago Teachers Union.
At the news conference, Daley also recognized the efforts of Peirce music teacher Brooke Thompson, who earlier in the day was awarded one of the nation’s most coveted teaching awards, the “Golden Apple,” of the Golden Apple Foundation.
“As I often say, there is nothing that government does that is more important than providing quality education to young people,” Daley said.
Things such as “Teacher for a Day” and Olympic Week raise the profile of what goes in the classroom and remind us all that our hope for a better tomorrow starts with improving our schools and giving all our children an equal chance to dream and grow and realize their potential,” he said.
The eight Olympians and Paralympians who participated in “Teacher for a Day” are:
• Bill Mulliken: 1960 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 200 Meter Butterfly (Swimming)
• Tom Pukstys: 1992 and 1996 Olympian in Javelin Throw (Athletics)
• Willie May: 1960 Silver Medalist in 110 Meter Hurdles (Athletics)
• Paul Moran: 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Paralympian (Sitting Volleyball); Beijing hopeful (Paralympic Tennis)
• Danell Nicholson: 1992 Olympian (Boxing)
• Montell Griffin: 1992 Olympian (Boxing)
• Michael Bennett: 2000 Olympian (Boxing)
• Kenny Johnson: 1992 and 1996 Paralympian (Boccia)