Jack Elsey

Innovation and Incubation 

At an early age, after receiving a scholarship to attend a private school, Jack became aware of some startling inequities within our school systems. Almost immediately, he saw first-hand that his opportunities and academic expectations were increasingly different  than his neighborhood peers. The realization of how impactful a good education can be, not only on an individual, but on that child’s family and community, is what inspired Jack to pursue a career in education.
As Chief of Innovation and Incubation, Jack works to ensure that there is a high-quality school option for students of all backgrounds. His team’s responsibilities include authorizing and overseeing the city’s charter schools as well as the District’s option schools and programs. His team also works to recruit and pilot the best innovations from around the country, which can include anything from a new type of school to different approaches in the classroom.
Q. What was your first experience as an educator?
A. I taught middle school in the South Bronx as part of Teach for America. I loved my students, so the challenges that faced them (the achievement gap, their lack of opportunity) really hit home with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my kids, and how the decisions I’m making would affect their lives.
Q. What helped prepare you for your role with CPS?
A. In addition to my years as a teacher, I was an Assistant Superintendent tasked with leading a group of 26 schools focused on closing the achievement gap. I then became the Chief Schools Officer for the Detroit Rising College Prep Schools, where I worked to transform low-performing public schools into more autonomous, high-quality learning environments with the ambitious goal of a 90 percent graduation and college enrollment rate.  I’ve also coached and developed new teachers, in addition to helping schools staff teachers more effectively.
Q. Is there a professional accomplishment of which you are particularly proud?
A. My team is amazing. Since I joined CPS in 2013, we’ve had many successes, including doubling the number of option seats in the District. I’m also proud of the fact that all of our schools are now being evaluated on the same set of metrics under the SQRP, and that funding is distributed equitably among all governance types. Going forward, we will continue to actively seek out the best in new school models and increase accountability while  improving our customer service to all the schools we serve
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I love spending time with my fiancée Merrill and my dog Mitten. I’m also a big golfer, though I’ve finished second to other CPS employees more times than I’d like to admit.
Q. What’s one thing about you that most people wouldn’t know?
A. A lot of people don’t know that I play the guitar. I’ve been playing since 8th-grade, and for a year after college, I actually toured in a rock band.
Quick Facts:

  • Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
  • Favorite Sports Team: Detroit Tigers
  • Favorite Restaurant: Frontier
  • Favorite Spot in Chicago: Adler Planetarium

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Page Last Modified on Thursday, October 09, 2014