Charles currently serves as the leader of Michelle Clark Elementary School. He joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for CPS principals and to assist the District in recruiting and retaining outstanding school leaders.
A product of CPS schools, Charles became a CPS principal to play a role in improving families, neighborhoods and communities through education. He finds it rewarding to be a part of his students’ success and has positively impacted hundreds of children at both Michelle Clark and Beidler elementary schools.
At Michelle Clark, Charles has worked to create a culture of shared leadership and student-centered instruction, all while increasing restorative practices throughout the school community. His leadership has been inspiring to his teachers, many of whom have begun taking increased ownership of teaching and learning at Michelle Clark.
Javier has served as the leader of Carson Elementary School since 2007. He joined the Principal Advisory Council because he recognizes that CPS has its share of challenges, and he wants to contribute to educators around the District overcoming those challenges.
Javier graduated from Chicago’s Morgan Park High School after coming to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 16. As a student, he did not see many Latino teachers or principals, so he went into education, in part, to begin turning that tide. Javier works to be a powerful role model for his Latino students, teaching them that they can overcome any obstacle and achieve their dreams, just as he did.
Javier wants his educators to be lifelong learners, so he has created book clubs at Carson that have teachers reading more professional literature. He has also increased the grade levels covered by the school’s dual-language program and will continue building on this progress until all students in grades Pre-K – 8 have access to this rigorous an academic experience.
The leader of Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Wayne joined the Principal Advisory Council to provide feedback to District leadership around decisions geared toward providing every child in Chicago with the highest caliber education.
Education changed the trajectory of Wayne’s life, and he went into the field to ensure that it continues to do the same for other young people. He aspires to be the same kind of leader as his own elementary school principal – a leader who understood that a student’s circumstances outside of school should not impact their ability to receive a great education.
Wayne joined CPS in 2008 as a special education teacher and became the assistant principal at Lindblom before assuming his current role. As principal, Wayne has led Lindblom from a traditional grading and teaching system to competency-based learning, which has resulted in significant student growth. Lindblom also received the Breakthrough Schools Grant under his tenure and is in the process of building an innovation lab that will provide students with the foundation they need to compete in a global, 21st century economy.
Maureen is currently the principal of DeWitt Clinton Elementary School. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for her students, teachers, and staff, and to contribute her views as a new principal of a large diverse school.
Maureen decided to become a principal to have a greater impact. She believes that a principal not only affects change within the school, but also empowers students and parents to affect positive change within the neighborhood.
At Clinton, Maureen has focused on creating personalized schedules for all 570 students to support their varying learning styles and academic proficiency. During the school day, Clinton has designated intervention times to work with at-risk students and enrichment times to encourage exploration and provide thought provoking projects and discussions.
The leader of Walter Payton College Prep High School since 2011, Tim joined the Principal Advisory Council because he believes that our District needs to be nurtured, and because he enjoys being part of a group of educational leaders who bring differing perspectives to support the various needs of high school students.
His family’s commitment to public service inspired Tim to become an educator. He particularly enjoys guiding high school students as they mature from 9th grader and graduate four years later as adults. Tim enjoys helping shape students during this pivotal transition and encouraging them to become the best version of themselves.
Tim became a principal because this leadership role is a nexus of education theory, practice, and policy, all of which interest him professionally. During his time at Payton, Tim helped increase SEL programming, created unique Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, and developed a daily enrichment program so students could access additional academic supports, participate in athletics, and explore identity organizations during the school day. He has also provided consistent professional development activities for faculty that focus on culturally responsive pedagogy.
Elias has been leading Alcott College Prep since 2012. He joined the Principal Advisory Council to make sure that those intimately involved in the work of this District provide CPS leaders with the guidance and direction they need.
Elias attended CPS elementary schools after coming to the United States from his home in Celaya Guanajuato, Mexico. He credits many of his teachers with inspiring him to pursue a career in education, as he wanted to be as nurturing and motivational to other children as they were to him.
As principal at Alcott, Elias has worked to create a greater sense of community among his staff, students and parents. He believes that growing the mind of a child belongs to all stakeholders, and that performing well academically is only a success when students and teachers enjoy doing what they do.
Now in her second year as principal at North Grand High School, Emily joined the Principal Advisory Council to gain a better understanding of our District’s vision and to contribute her voice and knowledge in a way that will benefit all CPS schools and the services they provide.
Emily was inspired to become a teacher by her older sister, a CPS educator in the Little Village community. Visiting her sister’s classroom made Emily fall in love with Chicago and its students. She saw the difference her sister was making in children’s lives and decided she wanted to do the same. Emily became the principal of a neighborhood school because she believes passionately that every child deserves access to a quality, equitable education, and she wanted to provide that to the students in her community.
Her leadership at North Grand has resulted in an increase in both the school’s Freshmen-on-Track and graduation rates. Her work has contributed to a nurturing, comfortable environment for all students and has helped increase staff focus and morale.
As a co-founding principal, Samuel has been leading Legal Prep Charter Academy since 2012. He joined the Principal Advisory Council to be part of a group that is dedicated to improving outcomes for all Chicago students and to help facilitate a stronger collaboration between District and charter schools.
Prior to becoming an educator, Samuel worked as an attorney. Part of his job was mentoring CPS high school students interested in the legal profession, and seeing their potential inspired him to become an educator.
Samuel believes in creating buy-in and unity among his staff, and he has accomplished this by allowing educators to play an active role in setting school policy. Improving teacher retention is one of his main priorities, as is increasing social-emotional supports for all students, especially during their first two years of high school.
Samuel credits his success with support from colleagues in the charter school industry and looks forward to helping more of Chicago’s youth reach their full potential as the principal of Legal Prep.
The principal of Marine Leadership Academy, Erin has been recognized for helping raise ACT scores, scholarship funding, and college enrollment at the CPS schools where she has served.
Erin began her career with Teach for America, teaching middle-school Math in Texas. She joined CPS as a teacher at Clemente Community Academy, then earned her Masters from Harvard University. She entered Chicago Academy High School as part of the New Schools for New Leaders Program, and helped move this school to Level 1 status.
As the principal of Marine Leadership Academy, Erin works diligently to ensure that every classroom has the best teachers, resources and support systems to drive student learning.
The leader of Farragut Career Academy (FCA) since 2012, Tonya joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for neighborhood schools and learn how CPS policies impact her students, as well as other children around Chicago.
The first in her family to attend college, Tonya became an educator to support children like herself – students who might have never considered college if not for caring adult encouraging them to believe in themselves and reach their full potential. She became a principal to improve outcomes for students beyond her classroom and to impact future generations on a broader level.
Since becoming the principal at FCA, Tonya has worked to improve the culture and climate of the school while increasing access to top-quality programs. FCA became an IB school under her tenure, began offering CTE classes to students interested in the legal profession, and partnered with After School Matters to create murals that have beautified both the school and the community.
As the leader of Cameron Elementary since 2010, Stephen joined the Principal Advisory Council to contribute to the success of the District and to gain insight on how District policies are developed
A product of Chicago Public Schools, Stephen thought he would pursue a career in engineering. But the positive impact that African-American male leaders had on his life made him want to do the same for Chicago’s youth. As a principal, his goal has been to build a cohesive team that creates a nurturing environment for neighborhood children.
During his time at Cameron, Stephen has moved his school from probation to a consistent Level 1 school quality rating. He has helped improve all tiers of Cameron’s MTSS model, developed multiple partnerships that provide counseling and social services, and formed relationships with organizations that bring nutritious food and health education to the students and families at Cameron.
For nearly 19 years, Angelicahas been leading Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Elementary School. She joined the Principal Advisory Council because she wanted to have a voice in how policies and decisions are made at the district level and be an advocate for early childhood education.
Angelica was inspired to go into the field of education because of her positive school experiences and great teachers as a child, including helping her fellow classmates in El Paso, Texas to learn English.
She finds building relationships with her staff, students and their families to be the most rewarding part of her job as principal of Ortiz de Dominguez. She’s proud of the success of her school’s special education and bilingual programs, and well as an attendance rate that is always at 95% or higher.
Myron has been leading Julian High School since 2015. He hopes that his time on the Principal Advisory Council will allow him to gain a deeper understanding of District priorities and contribute to future policies that will have a positive impact on family engagement and student learning.
Becoming an educator was a calling for Myron. He wants to give as many children as possible what they need to become productive citizens who will positively impact the world. He was motivated by his mother, who taught elementary school for many years and whose work with children was inspiring.
Under Myron’s leadership, Julian has improved its Freshmen-on- Track Rate from 76 percent to 96 percent in just two years. Attendance is on the rise, and the number of out-of- school suspensions has significantly dropped. Myron has also increased the number of after-school programs offered at Julian, and has made it a priority to invest in resources that support students’ social and emotional growth.
Paul has been the principal of Lake View High School since 2016. He joined the Principal Advisory Council to be the voice of a neighborhood high school and to learn from colleagues and district officials.
As curriculum coordinator at Walter Payton, Paul saw his impact and was inspired by the principals he worked for to have an even greater impact. The most rewarding part of his job is watching teachers support students to do amazing things.
Under Paul’s leadership, Lake View’s department instructional leads have taken an active role in developing formative assessment practices schoolwide, and students are learning more with this focused instructional practice. Paul is also undertaking a major initiative to increase the number of clubs and activities at the school.
Miyoshi is the principal who turned around Stagg School of Excellence in 2012, and she has been leading this school community ever since. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for the principals of the AUSL Network.
A former CPS student, Miyoshi’s first students were her five younger siblings. The people in her life recognized her passion for teaching early on and encouraged her to move toward the thing that gave her joy. She became a principal because she believes that school quality begins with a strong leader, and because she was confident in her ability to develop a strong staff that would have a positive impact on student achievement.
As the principal of Stagg, Miyoshi focuses on being better and leading better. She participates in professional development and is intentional about building solid trust with her staff. Miyoshi is committed to being accessible and to listening to the feedback of all stakeholders when critical choices are at stake.
As the founding principal of Moving Everest Charter School, Mika joined the Principal Advisory Council because she believes in CPS and Dr. Jackson’s leadership. She wanted to bring her viewpoint as a charter school principal to the table and learn from her traditional public school colleagues.
Mika credits may of her teachers, from kindergarten through high school, for impacting her learning and helping to build her character as an individual. She pursued a career in education so that she can do the same for others and became a principal to empower teachers while providing structures and support to help them grow.
During her time at Moving Everest, Mika has laid the groundwork to bring its vision to life. She is most excited about the growing supports for her scholars with behavior concerns. Since opening the school, she has added two behavior specialists, a social worker, and a data-driven SEL curriculum. She also implemented a schoolwide management system, developed by a team of teachers, that has impacted shifts in culture.
Laura joined the Principal Advisory Council to bring about change at her school, Von Steuben High School, and to remind her to think beyond her school to the larger challenges and accomplishments of the District.
Laura went into education because she loved school as a child and never wanted it to end. She was fortunate to experience many supportive learning environments and worked hard to recreate those experiences in her classroom. Becoming a principal was a logical next step for Laura because she was committed to leading a school community no matter the challenges.
With her guidance, the leadership teams at Von Steuben have become a defining influence on the school community. The school’s STEM partnership has also grown, increasing student achievement and helping Chicago’s youth prepare for success in a 21st -Century economy.
Michelle has been leading Beaubien Elementary School since 2012. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to develop a better understanding of how decisions are made at the District level, and because she wants to play whatever role she can in making CPS the best urban school system in the country.
Michelle became a principal because she loves challenges and change. She grew into this role by working as an assistant principal at two CPS elementary schools and being mentored by two outstanding school leaders. One taught her about the importance of building relationships, and the other taught her that success is rooted in quality instruction, and in not being afraid to make the tough decisions.
At Beaubien, Michelle has created a professional culture that includes teacher leaders – dynamic educators who are encouraged to have a voice in creating school solutions. She has also added a new play space for students, and has invested in dance, music and language instruction to ensure that Beaubien is educating the whole child.
Alene has been leading Joplin Elementary School for the past 10 years. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for administrators and help implement change that will transform CPS schools.
A graduate of Chicago’s Lindblom High School, Alene planned on a career in actuarial science. But that all changed the first time she accepted a role as a substitute teacher. She felt fulfilled working with the students and knew she had found her calling. Alene became a principal to extend her reach, and is now dedicated to helping students, staff and parents set high expectations and reach their full potential.
Under Alene’s leadership, Joplin has moved from a Level 3 to a Level 1 school. Attendance has increased, and Joplin has established several significant partnerships to improve students’ academic achievement and social-emotional development. Teachers have become more collaborative, and an on-site Parent University ensures that families are actively engaged in their children’s education.
Ellen has been leading Noble Street College Prep since 2014. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to meet other school leaders and share some of the great work that Noble is doing for the students of Chicago.
The teachers Ellen had in high school inspired her to live her life working for social justice, including helping ensure that every child has access to an excellent education, regardless of their zip code. As a principal, she relishes the chance to influence a space that belongs to so many people – students, teachers, and parents – for the greater good.
Ellen is committed to making Noble Street the best place in Chicago to work and the best place to attend school. In addition to ensuring that all students are college ready, one of her goals has been to eliminate inequities for minority students, which is now a part of Noble’s overall strategic plan.
Jullanar is completing her fourth year as principal of Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to be at the forefront of policy creation that would influence the direction of leadership and the commitment of educators to invest in families.
A graduate of Beasley Academic Center and Hyde Park Career Academy, Jullanar went into the field of education after being inspired by other educators who invested in her social-emotional and analytical development. They inspired her to better herself and empower others.
The most rewarding part of being a principal for Jullanar is seeing students rise to the occasion and excel in experiences for which they have been prepared.
Ramona has been leading Harlan Community Academy since 2015. She joined the Principal Advisory Council because she believes that there is power in collegial collaboration, especially when it comes to solving the common problems experienced by school leaders.
A graduate of Chicago Public Schools, Ramona felt called to become an educator after a teaching internship where countless students stole her heart, and where the classroom felt like her home. She became a principal to provide other teachers with the tools, guidance and partnership that helped shape her own career, and to build a team that would continuously bring about growth and productivity in a school community.
Harlan is rising in response to Ramona’s leadership. She has stabilized the school’s culture through carefully constructed strategies and has partnered with organizations like After School Matters, Gallery 37, Gear Up, and others to bring badly needed resources into her school.
Laura, the principal of Mark Twain Elementary, joined the Principal Advisory Council because she believes that we must be cognizant of the impact that leadership decisions have at the school level.
Laura wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a camp counselor teaching kids to swim. She loves seeing children move from dependence and lack of confidence to independence and pride in what they achieved. Laura served as the assistant principal at Twain for 15 years. She was fortunate to work under two outstanding leaders who lived by the motto “children first” and inspired her to become a school principal focused on developing the whole child and providing every student with the best education possible.
Her focus as principal of Twain includes continuous academic improvement, expanding opportunities in the arts, and maintaining a positive school climate that helps children reach their full potential.
The leader of Dixon Elementary since 2014, Terrycita joined the Principal Advisory Council to lend her voice and gain a better understanding of CPS policies and programs.
Terrycita attended CPS schools, including spending her 7th and 8th-grade years at the elementary school she now leads. She became an educator to be a lifelong advocate for children and decided to become a principal so that she would have the privilege of training Chicago’s outstanding educators.
Terrycita’s mentor throughout her career was Joan Dameron-Crissler, the principal when she was a student at Dixon Elementary. She showed her how a strong leader evokes change, and Terrycita has followed her example by increasing student growth and attainment at her alma mater.
The principal of Jackson Language Academy, Marilou joined the Principal Advisory Council to provide input on policies that impact students and school communities, and to learn from others who can help her grow as a school leader.
Marilou came to Chicago from the island of Guam to pursue her career in education. She became a principal to advocate for all students and provide them with access to high-quality instruction. A strong believer in student voice, she works to empower her students to develop the leadership skills they will need to lead successful lives.
As a principal, Marilou has prioritized building a collaborative environment with her students, staff and school community. She has also expanded after-school activities to support students’ academic, social and emotional needs. All of this has led to a consistent closing of the achievement gap among all subgroups at Jackson Language Academy.
Jennifer has been the principal of DRW College Prep of the Noble Network since January 2018. She moved to Chicago in 2010 to work as the freshman civics teacher at Rauner College Prep where she served for seven years — most recently as principal. She has also served as a team leader, advisor, and a network reading instructional lead.
Jennifer started teaching in Houston, Texas shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The number of displaced families in Texas helped her live her life with a higher level of humility and gratitude. Jennifer later decided to become a principal because she saw the impact that role has on a school. She believes that teaching is the most important job in a school and wanted to be a leader who ensured that all services supported the classroom.
Jennifer finds the most rewarding part of being a principal to be graduation day. Every year, she is full of pride, joy and gratitude when she sees families celebrate the hard work of their scholars.
Evelyn has served as principal of Logandale Middle School since 2011. She decided to join the Principal Advisory Council because she wanted a forum for sharing her ideas, successes and challenges in order to improve her school community even further, as well as CPS.
From a young age, Evelyn felt that a professional career in education was her calling. Evelyn is a graduate of Taft High School, and she started her career teaching with CPS. While her first year of teaching was the most challenging year of her career, she still keeps in touch with some of her students from that year.
Since becoming principal at Logandale, Evelyn departmentalized grades 4-8 and implemented Go Math. Under her leadership, Logandale focuses on developing the whole child by providing elective choices for students in grades 5-8 and extracurricular activities for students such as drama, choir, guitar club, cuatro classes, and sports. As a principal, Evelyn knows how to wear many hats, whether it’s as principal, nurse, janitor, lunch lady, bus lady, counselor or social worker.
The leader of Auguston Lara Academy since 2008, Paul joined the Principal Advisory Council to be a voice for his fellow school leaders and help guide their critically important work.
Paul grew up on the east coast but made Chicago his home after attending DePaul University. He grew up knowing he would become an educator and finds it rewarding to see the long-term impact he has made on students, including seeing them graduate from high school, earn scholarships, and receive their college degrees.
Paul’s goal has been to build a great neighborhood school for the students of the Back of the Yards community. He has followed the example set for him by Alicia Hill, his first-ever principal, who showed him the transformative power a great leader can have on curriculum, finance, and school culture.
Matthew has been the principal of Wendell Phillips Academy High School for the past four years. He joined the Principal Advisory Council for the opportunity to work with district leadership to improve outcomes for our students.
Matthew was inspired by his parents, both teachers, to pursue a career in education. After serving as a teacher at Wendell Phillips, he decided to take on the principalship to further its continued growth in academic, athletic and postsecondary success.
For three years in a row, 100% of Wendell Phillips’s graduating class were accepted to college — which is a first in the 114 year history of the school. Under Matthew’s leadership, each senior takes two college trips per year. In addition, seniors must also submit at least five scholarship and five college applications to participate in senior activities.
The principal at Kennedy High School since 2008, George joined the Principal Advisory Council to serve as a conduit between the Chicago Board of Education and the administrators in his area, and to provide the insight that comes with a decade of experience leading a diverse CPS high school.
George came to the U.S. from Poland at the age of seven, not speaking a word of English. He was drawn to History in school, and became a Social Studies teacher to share his passion for the events that have brought us all to this point in time. As an educator, he believes in purpose, process, and product – the three P’s – to engage students in active learning and help them produce demonstrative examples of their mastery of standards.
George is focused on developing a growth mindset at Kennedy. He is working to accomplish this through intentional systems and structures that allow teachers to support each other in constructing the best, most relevant skill-based activities for students.
Megan has been the principal of Ray Elementary School since 2014. She joined the Principal Advisory Council to use her perspective as the leader of a diverse neighborhood school to help inform District decisions.
Megan decided to become an educator, first and foremost, because she is a lover of learning. Her mother, a teacher for 34 years, felt this way as well and inspired Megan to help others love learning. Her role as a high school department chair got Megan thinking about becoming a principal. She saw the impact that innovative, collaborative staff could make on children’s lives, and that became the thing she felt called to do.
As a principal, Megan has worked to create a vision and theory of action to guide her school. This central focus has helped staff build systems and sustainable practices while improving school climate, all of which has improved attendance, academic achievement and student behavior.
Now in her third year as principal at Curie High School, Allison joined the Principal Advisory Council because she believes that strong relationships between District and school-based staff are essential to fortifying the vitality and effectiveness of our schools.
Allison planned on a career in electrical engineering, but her experience tutoring Spanish-speaking youth while in college inspired her to change direction. She came across a teenager who had emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala alone. The struggles he experienced accessing public education inspired Allison to become a teacher who would try to improve that system from the inside. She became a principal because she wanted to think about, plan for, and improve the overall impact a school can have on its students.
Under Allison’s leadership, the number of disciplinary infractions at Curie has been drastically reduced, transforming the culture and climate in the building. Curie’s Freshmen-on- Track rate has risen, and Allison has put together an instructional leadership team that is driven by improvement science.
The leader of Johnny Colemon Academy (JCA) since 2008, Paulette joined the Principal Advisory Council to share ideas and influence positive change.
A product of Chicago Public Schools, Paulette was inspired to become an educator by Dr. Larry Hawkins, her volleyball coach at Hyde Park High School. He taught her what it meant to be dedicated and committed to children, and supported her as a mentor throughout her CPS career.
Paulette’s philosophy as a principal is to educate the whole child and to teach students that they are learning not just to be successful in school, but to reach their full potential in life. She has invested time to creating a positive culture and climate at JCA, and is focused on creating a school community that is warm, pleasant, and academically aligned.
Jamila is a special education teacher and case manager at O’Keefe School of Excellence. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she wanted to position her voice in a way that would have a true impact on CPS students. She hopes that in addition to affecting real change, she can improve her skills as an educator and build relationships with colleagues.
A proud graduate of CPS schools, Jamila was inspired to go into teaching by her mother, who spent her career making a difference in the lives of children. She was also inspired by her elementary school teachers who brought learning to life with their creativity.
Jamila’s students are diverse learners from Kindergarten through 8th-grade. She loves the way they pick her brain about everything and are so eager to learn. She focuses much of her attention on students in grades 6-8, as they are preparing for their futures and have so much to learn before going out into the real world.
Abisola is a teacher at the Ray Graham Training Center, where high school students with diverse learning needs receive instruction that is tailored to their abilities and promotes independent living. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council to give voice to the issues that directly impact CPS teachers, and hopes to use this experience to better understand the challenges of urban education and advocate for the structures that promote teacher retention.
Abisola was inspired to become a teacher by her grandmother, a lifelong educator who taught those in her family to respect and value the profession. Abisola’s first students were her younger cousins, and when she eventually began leading her own classroom, she was struck by the powerful feeling that comes from imparting knowledge and watching students learn.
Abisola joined CPS in 2004, working with students at South Side Occupational Academy. She then spent five years at York Alternative High School before joining the staff at Graham. A native of Nigeria, Abisola is currently pursuing her doctorate in special education at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Gina is an English teacher, librarian, and Writing Center director at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she believes that collaborating with colleagues on district-wide solutions is time well spent.
Gina became an educator to fill young minds with knowledge and to be an advocate for social justice. She joined CPS in 2004, teaching English at Corliss and TEAM Englewood high schools before joining the staff at Lindblom. Her former students often return from college to tell her that what she taught them is helping them be successful.
Gina’s role as the school librarian allows her to have an impact on students at every grade level. Several of the youth at Lindblom have been her students since arriving in 9th-grade, and she has cultivated relationships that have allowed them to grow academically, socially and emotionally.
Megan Clendening is an instructional coach, dean of students, and MTSS coordinator at Nixon Elementary. She joined the Teacher Advisory Committee because she knows that she can have an impact beyond her classroom and students. She wants to collaborate with other teacher leaders, learn from them, and hopefully make a difference to the district as a whole.
Megan has been a teacher with CPS for 20 years. She has taught a variety of positions between second through eighth grades. Making connections with students is the most rewarding part of her work as a teacher.
Megan was inspired to become a teacher after having a rewarding experience as a mentor. The experience made her want to help students whose parents were not in the position to get extra help for their children.
Allison has been teaching 7th-grade math at Smyser Elementary since 2011. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she knows that there are many pieces to the CPS puzzle, and she has the enthusiasm, perseverance and problem-solving skills to help fit those pieces together so that all children have the opportunity to be successful in school.
Allison knew from an early age that she would be a teacher, as helping children grow is what brings her joy. She especially loves working with students who are on the cusp of entering high school because it is a time when they move from impressionable children to confident young adults who are ready to take on the world.
Allison joined CPS in 2007, teaching 8th-grade Math and Algebra to students at Saucedo Elementary before joining the staff at Smyser in 2017. Her mentor has been her own 7th-grade math teacher, who sparked her interest in mathematics and helped build her confidence as both a student and a teacher.
Rachel Duellman teaches Spanish at Chicago Tech Academy. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council to get a bigger picture of how CPS operates. She wants to understand why decisions are made and how she can use her role to make the biggest impact.
Rachel wanted to be a teacher her whole life. She was inspired by her teachers and felt that she could serve a purpose in the field of education. The advice she would give herself at the beginning of her career would be to have higher expectations of students.
Rachel enjoys the challenge of teaching because every day and year is new, and these experiences enable her to grow both as an educator and as a person.
DeJernet teaches a split classroom of 1st and 2nd-graders at Morton School of Excellence. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council to further advocate for Chicago’s students and to work with others who want to bring their unique experiences to a thoughtful, problem-solving space.
DeJernet realized from an early age that not all school systems are created equal. She was fortunate to receive an excellent education and learned from her parents that she should use her own opportunities to empower others. She was inspired to go into the field by her mother, a retired teacher who now volunteers in DeJernet’s classroom to assist in educating the children she calls her “grandstudents”.
DeJernet loves the curiosity, determination, and joyfulness of 1st-graders. Their energy invigorates her, and their perseverance, especially in the face of socioeconomic challenges, inspires her to help them grow in every way possible.
Sara Fliehman Levinstein teaches 8th grade reading and writing, 11th grade language and literature and 11th and 12th grade journalism at The Ogden International School of Chicago. Sara joined the Teacher Advisory Council to build a stronger bridge between the district and teachers. She also wants to learn from the experience of other leaders within the district.
The life-changing teachers Sara had as a student inspired her to pursue a career in teaching. She wanted to give back and teach students how to think, question, reflect, and show empathy and compassion every day. Sara began her teaching career at Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine, where she held various leadership positions, including English department chair and curriculum and instruction support coach.
Sara’s future goals include getting a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and eventually joining the leadership team at Chicago Public Schools.
Casey Fuess has been the choir director at Lindblom Math and Science Academy since fall 2011. He is also the proficiency-based learning coordinator. Casey joined the Teacher Advisory Committee because he enjoys considering big picture issues and working to develop solutions for complex challenges. He hopes to make a positive impact on the district through his participation.
Casey was inspired by his parents to pursue a career in education, as both dedicated their careers to public service. He wanted a career that would serve others and was fortunate to have a series of wonderful music teachers who taught him how music has the potential to connect people and to remind them that similarities are greater than differences.
The most rewarding part of teaching for Casey is the relationships he’s formed with students and colleagues. He finds it rewarding to watch students develop passion, character, discipline, and ambition.
Ben has been a multicultural studies teacher at Noble Street College Prep since 2013. He joined the Teacher Advisory Council to deepen his understanding of the District and explore ways to better serve students and their families. He is eager to connect with educators who are focused on improving student outcomes and proposing school-based solutions that can lead to lasting change in our city.
Ben originally pursued a career in business, but he was inspired to change direction after reading a book titled Half the Sky, which centered on the power of education to positively impact individuals and communities. Through the simple gift of one book, he was reminded how important it is for communities to come together, in purposeful and accidental ways, to meaningfully exchange ideas. This is exactly the kind of community that Ben now works to foster in his classroom.
Ben enjoys teaching 9th-grade because it affords him the opportunity to shape a positive high school experience for his students, helping them tap into their potential and embrace the educational journey that will let them lead a life rich with options. No matter their abilities, Ben’s goal is to provide all students with a holistic education that is rooted in love and high expectations.
Raquel Hallm-Watanabe teaches at Reilly Elementary where she co-teaches and supports diverse learners in a resource setting for grades K-1. Her goal is to provide her students with rigorous, equitable learning opportunities, and she joined the Teacher Advisory Committee to work with colleagues who are in pursuit of best practices and policy change.
Raquel grew up in a family of educators, and it felt natural for her to also pursue teaching. Prior to teaching at Reilly, she taught Kindergarten at Budlong Elementary and was the Diverse Learner Specialist for K-3rd at Cameron Elementary.
The most rewarding part of teaching for Raquel is the “ah-ha” moments when students finally attain content. She finds that kindergarteners have a natural curiosity, a positive outlook, and are always up for an academic challenge.
Mark is an English teacher and department lead at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School. He joined the Teacher Advisory Council to be part of the dialogue that aims to not only improve education for Chicago’s children and families, but to also increase teachers’ satisfaction and experience with the district.
Many pieces of inspiration of the course of Mark’s life led him to a career in education, from inspiring books, to standout teachers, to his high school speech team coaches, to his experience at Loyola University, and more. He enjoys working with other teachers who dedicate much of their time and energy to improving the lives of children through education and relationships.
As a high school teacher, Mark’s favorite schedule is when he has freshmen-level sections and upperclassmen-level sections. It reminds him of the tremendous growth that students make, academically and socially during their time in high school, which is easy to lose site of when teaching a single grade-level.
Lisa Caputo Love is a learning behavior specialist at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy. Lisa joined the Teacher Advisory Committee to serve as a liaison between teachers and the district’s leadership. By working together, the two groups can make more informed decisions and brainstorm ways to develop strong protocols and policies within the district.
Lisa’s love of learning inspired her to pursue a career in education. It is her goal to help instill that same passion for learning in others. Lisa began her career teaching second grade at Columbia Explorers Academy, where she also served as a third grade teacher, special education teacher, and director of special education. She was also a middle school learning behavior specialist at Logandale Middle School.
Positively impacting student and families is the most rewarding part of teaching for Lisa. She especially loves it when students return years later to tell her about the role she played in their lives.
Oscar Newman has been a teacher at Chicago Academy Elementary since 2006. He is the upper grade science teacher and the science coordinator for the school. Oscar also teaches Algebra 1 to eighth grade students.
Oscar joined the Teacher Advisory Committee because he wants to contribute his insights to help guide the important work of educating kids in Chicago.
Oscar went into the field of education because of the opportunity to make a difference. He believes that education is vitally important to the existence of democracy in the U.S.
Brian has been part of the staff at Chicago’s North Grand High School since 2007. He currently teaches honors, AP, and conceptual physics and joined the Teacher Advisory Council to stress the importance of a quality science education for CPS students.
Brian became a teacher to instill the joy in learning something new and to help students overcome adversity. He was inspired to enter the profession by his high school band director, whose patience, knowledge and motivational abilities are things he is still working to emulate.
Brian loves teaching high school juniors because they are well aware that the real world is fast approaching. He sees it as a great opportunity to teach them skills that will serve them well in whatever path they choose. In addition to physics, Brian is committed to teaching his students strong habits of mind and behavior that will help them find their way in the world.
Christina currently teaches U.S. history, world studies, and civics at Carver Military Academy. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council to become more involved on the District level. She is eager to learn more about those who make major decisions for her students and explore how teacher voice is incorporated into those decisions.
Christina became a teacher to help make high school an experience students can look back on with pride. She also went into the field to create a safety net for children – an opportunity for them to take risks and experience failure without fear.
Christina loves teaching U.S. history because it’s a chance to tell the story of America in engaging and relevant ways. This is especially true today, as recent events have made her students more interested in the challenges we face as a country. She feels it is her responsibility to make sure they are informed about their history and prepared to play an active role in our democracy.
Chamiyah is a 3rd-grade teacher at Aldridge Elementary School. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she is interested in educational equity and because she wants to acquire knowledge about the latest trends in education.
A proud graduate of CPS schools, Chamiyah had many teachers who made her feel as though they truly cared about her education, and also some who could have done a better job. Whether the experience was negative or positive, she used it as part of her own career, working to replicate certain actions or vowing to do things differently in her own classroom.
Chamiyah loves watching her 3rd-graders grow into their personalities while still working to impress their teacher. As the work becomes more challenging, expectations are higher, which means that 3rd-grade is the first time students learn to be accountable for their academic progress. Chamiyah enjoys helping children make this transition from primary to intermediate grades, and lives for the moment when the light bulb goes on and students realize that they understand a concept.
Christine teaches dance to students in grades Pre-K – 8 at Ravenswood Elementary. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she believes in the power of public education to transform communities. While she enjoys the experience of her school, she is eager to work on the District level to effect positive change.
A native of Ohio, Christine’s first experience with children was teaching dance in a community setting. She saw the way that the arts helped students flourish, so she decided to make arts integration in schools her life’s work.
Christine appreciates teaching many grade levels, but she is partial to students in grades 2-4 who begin to hone their skills as dancers while still using their powerful imaginations to shape choreography. She encourages her students to view dance and movement as forms of social interaction. Dance allows children to express themselves and communicate in an alternative way, which is especially beneficial to English learners, diverse learners, and students who struggle to communicate through traditional means.
LaTia currently teaches Kindergarten at Hendricks Elementary School. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council to be a voice for teachers and to help shape the policies, programs, and initiatives that affect them directly.
LaTia was inspired to become a teacher by a student she tutored during college. This 5-year-old girl lacked confidence in her ability as a reader and said people thought she wasn’t smart. LaTia became a teacher to be the voice for young children who believed their potential is limited and to help them become the best version of themselves.
LaTia loves molding the minds of Kindergarteners and setting them up for a positive elementary school experience. She knows that this time in their education is unique because it teaches them that school is a place where they can feel successful, capable, and excited about their learning opportunities.
Kristine teaches English and AP Literature at Disney II Magnet School. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council because she is eager to share ideas regarding improving equity and cultural sensitivity throughout CPS.
Kristine’s passion for books and serving her community led her to the field of education. Her favorite moment as a teacher is when students become captivated by what they read. She describes this as the moment when you can see learning happening right in front of you.
Kristine enjoys teaching high school students because they are at a very exciting time of life. She is impressed with their willingness to use their life experiences to enhance their learning and enrich their writing and literary analysis.
Nicole Zumpano is a technology integration specialist at Coonley Elementary. She started her teaching career with CPS during the 1993-94 school year and has spent her entire year serving the district. Nicole joined the Teacher Advisory Committee to provide a voice that will help the district move forward.
When Nicole was in elementary school, her father was her school board’s president. The extra time she was able to spend in the building after hours was the beginning of her love of school, and ultimately inspired her to pursue a career in education.
Nicole finds that the most rewarding part of teaching is watching the spark that occurs in a learner when they understand a concept, and how transformative their learning can become when they are truly passionate about a topic or subject. She also highly values the relationships she’s formed with colleagues over the years within CPS.