Moving teacher prep closer to schools

For five years, Illinois State University has offered education majors a unique option to fulfill their student teaching requirement: spend a year as an intern in northwest suburban Wheeling Elementary School District 21.

The legacy of a unique union leader

Associate Editor Maureen Kelleher’s brief history of Teachers for Chicago, a program that ushers career-changers into Chicago classrooms, sent me riffling through back issues of Catalyst. The impetus for the program, TFC’s Fred Chesek told Kelleher, was John Kotsakis of the Chicago Teachers Union. John’s death from a massive heart attack, at age 55, stunned the school reform community. As Catalyst wrote at the time, he “was more than the CTU’s voice of reform. He also was its arms and legs, ceaselessly making the rounds among school, union and foundation offices, as well as reform groups, to promote a new agenda for the union, including Teachers for Chicago, the CTU’s Quest Center and the New Standards Project.” He also was on the ground floor pushing for the “re-engineering” of central office and for small schools. He did all this as the CTU president’s special assistant for educational issues.

Comings and Goings

PRINCIPALS DuSable High School Principal Charles Mingo has retired after 35 years in CPS, the last 11 as head of DuSable. A recipient of the Milken National Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation and the Illinois State Board of Education and the Excellence Award from ISBE, Mingo is now the principal of Beckman Middle School in Gary, Ind. Loretta Lesley, formerly assistant principal at Von Steuben High, is serving as interim principal at DuSable.

Factual errors in good article about our program

Unfortunately, there were some important factual errors in it. Sara Arthur did her student teaching and is currently a teacher at Mark Sheridan Math and Science Academy (not Morrill), the photo has a picture of Maggie Folk (not Polk) and our bilingual/ESL Coordinator, Susan Kilbane, taught most recently at Telpochcalli Academy in Little Village (not Talcott Elementary in West Town). Lastly, our bilingual/ESL summer program is not new. We’ve offered it for the past 13 years.

Plan needed to save ‘high-need’ dropouts

Youth Service Project, the agency I work for, runs GED and literacy programming for over 300 youth annually in Humboldt Park with just two full-time staff, but we consistently have a waiting list of over 100 who need our services—by the way, we do not advertise our program; participants are referred by word of mouth. Our great frustration is that we are not able to give this population a more comprehensive program and that we serve only a fraction of those who need services in our community. Probation officers and case workers refer over 10 students a week to us; yet the educational programming we provide is rarely sufficient to meet the complex needs of these participants.

Study critiques service learning’s first year

“The system should be commended for having an outside evaluation done. That was risky,” says Kahne. “What they have done has been more of a success than what I initially thought. They have made a good first step towards what they want to do. However, it will be more difficult for them later. This first group of kids that volunteered are most likely to have volunteered anyway. Later they will have to work with more difficult kids who are not likely to want to do this.”

The legacy of a unique union leader

Associate Editor Maureen Kelleher’s brief history of Teachers for Chicago, a program that ushers career-changers into Chicago classrooms, sent me riffling through back issues of Catalyst. The impetus for the program, TFC’s Fred Chesek told Kelleher, was John Kotsakis of the Chicago Teachers Union. John’s death from a massive heart attack, at age 55, stunned the school reform community. As Catalyst wrote at the time, he “was more than the CTU’s voice of reform. He also was its arms and legs, ceaselessly making the rounds among school, union and foundation offices, as well as reform groups, to promote a new agenda for the union, including Teachers for Chicago, the CTU’s Quest Center and the New Standards Project.” He also was on the ground floor pushing for the “re-engineering” of central office and for small schools. He did all this as the CTU president’s special assistant for educational issues.

Where Northside’s staff came from

Where Northside’s staff came from:

Other CPS schools

Ames Middle

Amundsen

Bowen

Foreman (2)

Kenwood (2)

Lane

Lindblom

Mather (2)

Piccolo Elementary

Roosevelt (2)

Schurz (4)

Von Steuben (3)

Phillips

Westinghouse

Wildwood

Key Northside staffers

English Department Chair Barry McRaith most recently was a creative writing and English teacher at Von Steuben High School. He also was an English teacher and dean of student affairs at Holy Trinity High School. At Von Steuben, he received a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to develop an integrated curriculum of math, science, history and English. McRaith was a Golden Apple Award nominee and received the Pegasus Players Theatre Teacher of the Year Award in 1998.

Board learns lesson from Northside’s hiring

Northside Principal James “Jay” Lally, former principal of St. Ignatius College Prep High School, was hired a year before the flagship school opened, which gave him several months to search for and hire an assistant principal and department heads, who then helped select the rest of the teaching staff.

CAST helps aides become teachers

She walked out of the seminar with an even better deal— an opportunity to complete a tuition-free college education and become a Chicago public school special education teacher through a new CPS program called Project CAST, for Creating A Special Teacher. Developed by the Office of Specialized Services through a federal grant, the program is aimed at easing CPS’s longstanding shortage of special education teachers. Currently, there are 294 vacancies being filled by substitute teachers or general education teachers without the correct certification.

Washington fills up on interns

Tucker is one of four TFC mentors at Washington, a school of about 700 in Burnside, and Mitchell is one of 14 TFC interns—on a faculty of 31. As a pilot program for TFC, Washington has far and away the largest number of interns at any one school. While some school leaders would shudder at having so many teachers-in-training, Sandra Lewis, principal of Harold Washington, has rolled out a red carpet for them.

Police officer reverses course on teaching

Skulark enrolled in TFC in 1997, after 12 years with the Chicago Police Department and a year-long stint as a substitute in CPS elementary schools. She joined the police force with the idea of going into forensics, but ended up spending her career as a beat cop. In 1994, she finally went back to school to complete a bachelor’s degree; she graduated the following year with a major in chemistry from Chicago State University.

Fast-track program allows mom to fulfill a dream

After completing her yearlong GATE internship this summer and returning to Schurz High in August as a fully certified teacher, Plummer is now at home with her youngest child, born last winter. Yet she proved her mettle as an intern, earning rave reviews from students and mentors despite the stress of an unexpected pregnancy.

Learning by doing for teachers and kids

“Don’t have enough time in summer school,” Cortes mutters to himself. Although he shares the class with veteran teacher Arthur Reliford, a mentor in the Golden Apple Teacher Education program, and fellow intern Shannon Goodwin, the challenge of juggling teaching, grading, lab prep and assignments for his own education course at Northwestern University seems overwhelming at this moment.

Alternative certification ends shortage

“We don’t have unstaffed classrooms,” observes Edward Richardson, spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association. “We have very few people teaching outside their content area expertise, which is unusual among the states. … The provisional teacher program and some of the other certificate reforms have helped that.”

Chicago opens doors to career-changers

Until 1997, the only way to start an alternative-certification program in Illinois was to win approval from the state’s Teacher Certification Board, composed largely of union and university representatives. As a result, the state’s handful of alternative programs are small scale. For example, DePaul University’s nine-year-old partnership with the Glenview school district trains no more than 18 interns a year.