A Teacher's Take on
Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change
By Jackie Mader
Hechinger Report, October 23, 2012
Teacher-Leader Corps Helps Turn Around Schools
By Stephen Sawchuck
Education Week, April 20, 2011
New Teachers are the New Majority
By Celine Coggins & Heather Peske
Education Week, January 19, 2011
Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone
By Mike Winerip
New York Times, August 8, 2010
The Teaching Policy Fellowship is a highly selective program for teachers interested in having a voice in decisions that affect their profession. During a cohort experience that spans 18 months, Fellows meet in monthly sessions that offer:
Personal interaction with key education leaders;
A challenging course of study in education policy, research, and best practices from across the nation; and
The opportunity to advocate for policies that will better serve students and retain excellent teachers.
Meet the Chicago Teaching Policy Fellows 2014-2015 Cohort:
Educating a child is an incredibly complex endeavor. One must teach content so it is retained, model behavior so it is emulated, and spark passion so students are compelled to change the world.
Regina Beach teaches high school fine arts at Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, the Exelon Campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. She started her teaching career in 2009 as a Teach For America Chicago Corps Member. At Rowe-Clark, she is committed to providing a broad approach to art that includes art history instruction, a combination of digital and analog design, and problem solving. She advises the yearbook and runs an after school Field Experiences class where students visit Chicagoland museums and galleries. Regina is the advisory chair for the class of 2016 and the Arts & Humanities department chair. Previously, she taught on the South side of Chicago for three years at Ariel Community Academy. There, Regina was the assistant director of the K-8 Investments program and designed Economics and Personal Finance curriculum in addition to teaching investments and writing. Regina has been featured in Edutopia and participated in the NYSE Teachers’ Workshop. She earned a BS in Journalism and a BS in Visual Communication from Ohio University and an MA in Teaching from Dominican University.
My work in teaching science, to paraphrase Carl Sagan, is to understand and teach that human beings need and deserve, a population with minds wide-awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
Kris Beck is the science lead teacher at George Manierre Elementary School, where she has a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab for 3rd through 8th grade students. She began teaching in 2010 and joined the staff at George Manierre in 2011. She loves teaching science and believes that, in order to have a democratic society, we need scientifically-literate students and citizens. Kris is a representative to her school’s ILT, is on the State Adoption Committee for the Next Generation Science Standards, and is a member of the CPS REACH Performance Task Writing Team in science. She is a contributor to the CPS Science Framework and a professional development leader for middle school science teachers in association with DePaul and Loyola Universities. Kris started her teaching career as an AUSL-resident teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University and Masters of Science in Science Education from DePaul University. She is currently finishing up her endorsement in the Algebra Initiative from the University of Chicago.
Devin Carpenter is an 8th grade math teacher at KIPP Ascend Middle School in Chicago. He was previously a Teach for America Corp Member and taught 8th grade reading, writing, math, and U.S. History at UNO Rufino Tamayo. In 2012, Devin was elected as a Community Representative to the Jonathan Burr Local School Council, and in 2013 he was commissioned to write the school handbook for KIPP Ascend. Devin founded the website edu-thought.com in 2014 to further discussions on educational policy and philosophy. Devin graduated from Indiana University - Bloomington with a BA in Philosophy, Political Science, and Religious Studies.
Eu Hyun Choi
I dream of a day when there will be equitable resources for all students within the same district and across the country. Our students deserve rigorous instruction with highly-qualified teachers and readily-available resources.
A National Board Certified Teacher, Eu Hyun Choi is a 7th grade math teacher at Volta Elementary School where she began teaching in 2012. Eu decided to pursue teaching after volunteering to teach Sunday school at her local church. She follows her mother, also a teacher, into the profession. Eu spent five years at Horace Mann Elementary School, where she taught departmentalized middle school math and served as a Curriculum Coordinator and a Math Coach. Changing schools has opened her eyes to the inequities of resources between schools within the same district. Eu has worked as a math facilitator of middle school math workshops within the district, participated in writing performance assessments for the district, and has led math workshops at the Chicago New Teacher Center. She believes in lifelong learning and is committed to learning from her Math Professional Learning Community and Instructional Leadership Team. Eu earned her BS from University of Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and an MA of Education in Education Leadership from DePaul University in 2013. She continues to take classes at local universities to further develop her teaching and leadership skills.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
Terrence Davis is a special education teacher at Chicago Bulls College Prep, a charter school in the Noble Network. Terrence teaches 11th and 12th grade English and history and has a variety of responsibilities from helping prepare seniors for college to his 10th grade male advisory class which consists of fifteen future college graduates. Terrence comes from a family of educators. He fell in love with teaching while working at a non-public school that supported special needs students. It was at this school that Terrence realized the great impact teachers have on young lives and the importance of supporting special needs students. Terrence believes that education is the tool to evoke great change in our community and give all students the opportunity to succeed in life. Terrence began teaching in 2009. Before moving to Chicago, he lived in San Diego, California where he taught for three years. Terrence holds a BA from Morehouse College in History and a MA from Chapman University in Special Education.
Teaching is a work of the heart that needs to be encouraged at times. I believe that all teachers need support of their peers in order to feel invigorated and ready to embark on the journey of molding the lives of our young people.
Lynda Edgeson is a preschool teacher at Spencer Technology Academy in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. She previously taught 1st grade at the school. In her current position, Lynda has the opportunity to work with some of the youngest learners in the school system and to prepare them for life. She teaches the beginning stages of phonics and number sense. Lynda considers it her responsibility to develop a foundation of learning in these young scholars in order to build their self-esteem and self-worth, as well as to prepare them for the academic world. She also leads a professional literacy club that ensures that teachers feel more supported while teaching literacy. She is a teacher facilitator for the Math Department of Chicago Public Schools, representing Belmont-Cragin Network 3. Lynda previously taught both 2nd grade and kindergarten at Kohn Elementary. Lynda became a teacher because of her passion to inspire children and absolutely loves seeing the light bulb go off when children learn something new. She is currently pursuing her Educational Doctoral Degree in Early Childhood Education through Concordia University. Lynda graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Early Childhood Education and a MA from St. Xavier University in Reading Education.
A successful choral music education brings meaning and joy to students’ lives; it empowers them to serve as ambassadors of their community’s aspirations and ideals.
Casey Fuess is a choral music teacher at Lindblom Math & Science Academy, where he teaches five sections of high school chorus, two sections of songwriting, and 7th–8th grade chorus, as well as leads an advisory. Casey began teaching in 2011 and has since worked to expand students’ opportunities for artistic and personal growth. His classes participate in partnerships with Music of the Baroque, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, Scenarios USA and Lakeside Singers. Casey holds various teacher-leader roles at Lindblom, including Assessment & Evaluation Committee chairperson, PPC member, PPLC co-chairperson, and ALSC teacher representative. He believes that the choral music classroom is a place where students can develop a love of learning, habits of hard work, and the ability to communicate with passion the ineffable essence of the human experience. Casey received a BM in Music Education and Voice Studies from Northwestern University.
Great teachers make great students. We must invest in smart, innovative teachers and give them the opportunity to be continually learning and growing in the profession, leading to success for students.
Mollie Griffin is the Lead 11th grade teacher at Pritzker College Prep, a campus of Noble Street Charter School. A teacher since 2007, Mollie began teaching regular and AP US History to juniors in 2010. She was a TFA 2007 Corps member, teaching regular and IB English to freshmen at Bogan High School on Chicago’s Southwest side. As the lead teacher, Mollie works with her team on student culture, curriculum, and teacher coaching. She also leads professional development for advanced placement United States history teachers for the Noble Network and Teach for America. Mollie started as a classroom teacher because she hoped to have a direct impact on students in Chicago and remains in the classroom because the students of Chicago continue to have a dramatic impact on her. She hopes to be able to influence the larger factors affecting her and her students. Mollie received a BA in English from Boston College, an MS in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from UW-Madison, and her MAT from National Louis University. In addition to being a Teaching Policy Fellow she serves on the Chicago Public Education Fund’s Educator Advisory Council and is a Hollyhock Fellow through Stanford University.
I believe that peer accountability systems in teacher performance evaluation and support are untapped, powerful mechanisms by which we can elevate the teaching profession.
Jessica Hanzlik is in her third year as an eighth grade math and science teacher at the UNO Soccer Academy on the southwest side of Chicago, where she was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2012. She is also serving as the school’s bargaining team representative at negotiations for the network’s first collective bargaining agreement. Jessica became a teacher because she believes deeply in the power of effective instruction to transform the academic trajectory of all children, and she continues to refine her craft through developing her students’ mathematical and scientific problem-solving abilities. Before becoming a teacher, Jessica was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she graduated with an MS in Particle Physics and an MS in Comparative Social Policy.
We must devote more resources to teacher education to improve educational outcomes for our children. Teaching teachers to do the challenging work of educating our young people is a subtle and complex process, and policy makers need to avoid the appealing trap of measuring this process through overly-simplified measures of effectiveness.
Hen Kennedy teaches 7th and 8th grade U.S. history and civics at Carl Von Linne Elementary School, a neighborhood school within Chicago Public Schools. Hen is passionate about blending traditional teaching methods with creative teaching strategies that include developmentally-appropriate, play-based curricula. She is also committed to teaching students how to actively engage in their communities’ civic and political processes. Outside of the classroom, Hen works on curriculum and assessment development on a district-wide level. She serves as a REACH Performance Task Assessment writer for her subject area, and is helping to develop an interdisciplinary Latin American Studies curriculum guide for CPS elementary schools. She is excited to join Teach Plus because she is interested in the issues of teacher quality and the professionalization of the teaching field. Hen graduated from Yale University with a BA in literature and from the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program with a MAT.
One of the primary ingredients for good teaching is forming good relationships with students. These are difficult when we are so focused on data and metrics that we fail to see our teachers and students as people.
Jean Klasovsky is a history teacher and social emotional learning coordinator at Farragut Career Academy in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. As a history teacher, Jean engages students in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking about their relationship to the world around them, and then provides them with the opportunities to engage in civic life. As a passionate advocate for social emotional learning (SEL), Jean has led the founding of a restorative justice and RtI behavioral health program at Farragut; trains and speaks to teachers, students, policy makers and community members on the importance of SEL in schools; and has given a TEDx talk on restorative justice in September 2013. Jean graduated with a BA in History from Bard College and an MAT in Secondary Social Studies Education from Boston University.
I believe a safe learning community requires deep trust and open communication between educators and administration that fosters growth instead of penalizing deficits.
Michael Lee is a science educator at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, where he teaches Chemistry and is Project Lead for The Way Human Body Systems. In collaboration with other science educators, Michael exposes students to real-world sciences and modern technology to prepare them for an increasingly digital and scientific frontier. Michael is committed to ensuring that students have access to professional opportunities and academic supports in and out of the classroom to achieve their greatest potential. He proudly coaches Instituto’s Science Bowl teams, which earned 2nd place for two years at the Chicago Regional Competition. He also mentors a youth advocacy group, Young Organizers Leading Others, which promotes health awareness and amplifies student voice. Michael began teaching through Teach For America. He graduated with a BA in Biology from Kalamazoo College and an MAT in Secondary Science Education from National-Louis University.
I believe that, in order for the Common Core State Standards to be successful, you must ensure that teachers are well informed on how the instruction and implementation of the standards should look in their classroom. Teachers are in the trenches; they need to be prepared to soldier on and lead the battle.
Sherisse Lucas is a 1st grade teacher at Ashburn Community Elementary School, where she teaches all subjects to her students. She is a member of Ashburn’s Instructional Leadership Team, collaborating with colleagues on creating school-wide goals and initiatives to improve instruction, as well as the chairperson of her department (PreK-2). Sherisse has also been selected to be a member of the Chicago Public Education Fund’s 2014 Educator Advisory Committee, where she will work with other teachers and principals across the district to brainstorm ways to improve educational outcomes for students in Chicago’s public schools. Sherisse began her career in elementary education 10 years ago, and has taught students in first through eighth grade throughout this time. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a BS in Elementary Education and from Concordia University-River Forest with an MA in Reading. Sherisse is a National Board Certified Teacher in the content area of Literacy-Reading/Language Arts.
Testing is an opportunity for teachers to see their students’ strengths and weaknesses so that they can provide extra support and advance their students’ learning towards mastery of the material.
Micah Miner is the social studies department chair at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School in Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center. He focuses on providing his students with an issue-driven, media-rich curriculum that combines skills and content that is relevant, engaging and flexible enough to accommodate the diverse needs and challenges of incarcerated youth. Micah has been a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher since 2006. He is compelled to work with at-risk and risk students who are marginalized and advocates for their educational needs. Micah has been an adjunct professor, served on two school design teams, and is currently a member of the 2014 Chicago Public Education Fund’s Educator Advisory Council among other network and CPS initiatives. He believes that our society should be committed to a quality 21st century education that is accessible to all students without exception. Micah holds a BA from Moody Bible Institute, an MA in Teaching, MEd in Educational Leadership, EdS in Educational Technology, and is currently a doctoral student in Curriculum and Social Inquiry at National Louis University.
Ultimately, students learn what they perceive as valuable and exciting. Hence, fostering a culture of passion around mathematics is critical when transforming young minds into motivated mathematicians.
Corey Morrison is a STEM focused, secondary math teacher in the heart of Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood. Corey came to Chicago to provide urban secondary students with innovative, exciting, and real world-style math education. He aims to excite students about the transition from pre-algebra to Algebra 1, often at a time when students are resistant to more advanced mathematics. A grade-level house leader and an active participant in the integrated curriculum creation and implementation of technology in math, Corey has taught for three years at Lindblom Math and Science. He is passionate about integrated student learning, which is why he values collaborating across subject areas and within the departments. Corey graduated from The Ohio State University with a BA in mathematics and a MEd in STEM secondary education.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to education, through the coordination of all stakeholders and innovative approaches all students can be successful.
George Mueller is a high school social studies teacher at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy on Chicago’s South side. George began teaching in the school in 2003, and has since helped to structure curriculum, common assessments, and instructional practices around the reading standards of the Common Core State Standards. He has integrated data analysis, classroom observations, teacher recommendations, and district initiatives to create backward-designed units to help increase student achievement. Through the creation of a rigorous student-based curriculum, George has helped establish an upward trend in student reading scores. George is very proud to have helped create and implement a school-wide initiative of small learning communities, consisting of placing students into smaller groups that allow for greater teacher collaboration. George received his National Board Certification in Adolescent and Young Adult Social Studies in 2008, becoming the first teacher in his department to earn this advanced credential. George graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in History and National Louis University with an MA in Education Leadership.
When implemented with passion, integrity, and a shared vision by all stakeholders, the Common Core is an opportunity to elevate the standard for education across the country.
Paige Nilson is a 2nd grade teacher working in an inclusive classroom of 23 curious and enthusiastic students at Hamilton Elementary in Chicago Public Schools. For as long as she can remember, Paige wanted to be a teacher. Her mother still has photos of her teaching her dolls and stuffed animals at age three. In her role at Hamilton she collaborates, plans, learns, and reflects with other teachers and specialists daily to better serve students in her classroom and throughout the school. Paige believes student voice and choice should drive instruction and teachers should work as facilitators, always asking questions but rarely giving answers. She is passionate about public education and believes that all children deserve to go to a good school where they feel respected, safe, and valued. Paige is currently a candidate for National Board Certification. She previously taught 3rd grade at Hamilton and 2nd grade in St. Louis, Missouri. Paige graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in Elementary Education and an MA in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum.
It starts with a conversation. That conversation creates a relationship. That relationship sparks a discussion. That discussion prompts curiosity. That curiosity drives questions. Those questions obtain answers. Those answers become education.
Elijah Osorio is a 6th – 8th grade reading and mentor teacher at Providence Englewood Charter School, located on the South side of Chicago. Elijah started at the school in 2011 as a tutor and teacher-assistant. He eventually took over a 5th grade class, which he taught for two years. He started in his current position in the 2013-2014 school year. Over his tenure, Elijah has increased student performance on multiple standardized tests including ISAT, Terra Nova, and NWEA. One of his proudest moments was in September 2013, when he was selected to present at a TEDx talk on “Teacher Voice Beyond the Classroom.” Elijah is honored to have been selected a 2014 Teach Plus Teaching Policy fellow. He aims to begin his National Board Certification process during the 2014-2015 school year. Elijah received his BA in Marketing, Advertising, and Management from Northwood University, and his MA in Teaching from National-Louis University.
The simple statement of, 'I believe you can,' can mean the difference between success and failure. As a teacher, I give that message every day and have the privilege of watching my students grow when they truly believe it.
Krista Rajanen is a bilingual special education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. Krista started her career in 2010 at Goethe Elementary School in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. She works with students in grades 6-8 who have a variety of learning needs. Outside of teaching, Krista has served on her school's instructional leadership team and currently serves on the literacy committee and teaches an after-school yoga program. Krista obtained her BA in Social Work and Spanish Literature from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, and her MAT in Special Education from National Louis University in Chicago, IL.
For me there is only one reason to be in the classroom- our students. By putting students first in our planning, our advocacy, and our policy development, we can create an educational landscape grounded in mutual respect and honest collaboration where ALL students receive the highest quality education possible.
Lindsey Siemens has been a Chicago Public Schools teacher since 2009. She received her teaching credentials through the Chicago Teaching Fellows Program and began teaching as a Literature and Writing Cluster Lead Teacher, working with K-8 students at a CPS Elementary School in the Brighton Park neighborhood. Lindsey then taught at Bradwell School of Excellence in 2010 as 4th Grade teacher and, in 2012 became a 5th Grade Self-Contained Special Education teacher. Lindsey currently serves as the Special Education Department Chair, is the ILT representative for Special Education, and is a mentor teacher to two resident teachers through AUSL’s teacher residency program. Lindsey graduated from Truman State University with a BA in English/Linguistics (2002), received her MSW from UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work (2004), earned her LCSW (2008), and graduated from NLU with a BA in Education/LBSI (2010).
Supporting and empowering teachers to make decisions about how they teach and manage their classrooms, ultimately, benefits students.
Leslie J. Sologaistoa began teaching in Chicago Public Schools in 2003. She is incredibly committed to her first grade students. She became an elementary school teacher because her desire was to instill in children a love of learning. Currently, Leslie serves as a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, Professional Personnel Leadership Committee, and is the Union Delegate at her school. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Concordia University, her Masters degree in Bilingual Education from American College of Education, and is an Education Specialist degree candidate in School Psychology at Governors State University. Leslie is passionate about education and believes that teaching is a unique and challenging profession with innumerable rewards. She hopes that through her knowledge and experience she can help and support, not only those in her field, but the public at large.
Finding long-term solutions to advancing the teaching profession through preparation, development, and sustainability is key to closing the achievement gap.
A 9th grade civics teacher, Bill Waychunas has had the incredible opportunity to be a founder of Baker College Prep, a Noble Network Charter School. After spending four years in Las Vegas teaching middle school social studies and serving as a school Improvement coordinator and data coach, he has returned to Chicago to continue sharing his passion for government and politics with his students. A self-proclaimed civics junkie, Bill has participated in the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers and has run a successful campaign for a Nevada Assembly seat. He hopes to take these experiences and help students develop the knowledge, skills, and determination to become active citizens who can make a difference in their communities. Bill graduated from Marquette University with a BA in History and Secondary Education.
Vickki A. Willis-Redus
Being flexible, knowing how your students learn, and giving them a world of opportunities to exchange ideas are some of the best strategies I have used to be effective.
Vickki A. Willis-Redus began teaching in the Chicago Public Schools in 2003. She currently teaches AP Government and OneGoal at Bogan High School on the Southwest side of Chicago. In addition to being the 10th Grade Level Lead Teacher, Vickki is the Social Science Department Chair. Prior to teaching, she worked in theater as a stage manager for the Chicago Cultural Center and the DuSable Museum. Vickki hails from Chicago but was raised in several other states including Colorado and is a graduate of the NYC public school system. Vickki has received many accolades for her work as a teacher including being named Yale National Teacher Fellow and NEH Africa 2013 Fellow. She attained National Board Certification in 2007. Vickki received a BA from Bloomfield College and an MA in History from Illinois State University where she was named an ICEOP Fellow. She has completed her credit hours in Education Administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Creativity is as important as literacy.
Liz Wontor-Leach is a music education specialist at Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy in Chicago. In this role, she empowers K-8 students to love and appreciate music and the fine arts. Liz became a music teacher because she strongly believes in the importance of nurturing students as creative thinkers. Liz’s ultimate goal is to cultivate innovation in her classroom and through her students. She serves on her school’s instructional leadership team where she collaborates with colleagues to create professional learning cycles for fellow teachers around powerful practices such as small-group differentiation, UbD, and the Common Core. In addition to her school-based leadership position, Liz serves as a fine arts lead teacher for Network 8, a cluster of schools within CPS. Liz graduated from Murray State University with a BA in Music Education and Harrington College of Design with an MA in Interior Design.