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Chicago Public Schools Celebrates the Graduates of the Great Expectations Mentoring Program

17 June 2022

African American and Latinx CPS educational leaders advance to the next stage of their equity leadership

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is proud to announce that 22 employees will be celebrated and honored with a virtual ceremony Friday afternoon as members of the District’s third class to successfully complete the signature Great Expectation Mentoring (GEM) program for equipping and advancing African American and Latinx education leaders for the next stage of their leadership in the District.  CPS launched the mentoring program in May 2018 as part of plans to develop 150 African American and Latinx leaders by 2024 as outlined in the District’s five-year vision.

 “It is vital that we continue to invest in our African-American and Latinx staff members as part of work to recruit and retain a diverse staff, a staff that represents and connects with our students,” said CEO Pedro Martinez. “The program reflects one of the multiple ways we are working to achieve our vision and ensure that CPS remains a welcoming and inclusive system for our staff and students.” 

The Office of Equity’s Great Expectations Mentoring Program connects African American and Latinx educational leaders with District leaders to develop leadership skills, gain an understanding and perspective of equity, and work with GEM mentors and other innovators to improve their professional skills and practices. The 10-month program focuses on four goals: achievement, equity facilitation, leadership development, and mentorship and innovation to ensure CPS students see more leaders of color who can represent them in their schools and throughout the District.  To date, the 83 employees - called “fellows”  of the GEM program’s three cohorts - have positively impacted more than 47,000 students through their daily interactions with the students they oversee. 

The third cohort includes principals and assistant principals from CPS schools, employees from various departments across central office, and staff members from the Network level that successfully used the CPS 5-Year Vision and Equity Framework to lead projects. 

“GEM connects its fellows with many resources and mentors,” said Acting Chief Equity Officer Evangelina Covarrubias. “This pipeline is designed to encourage them to test their ideas, reflect on their work, model and affirm equitable practices, and navigate challenging situations.”

The GEM program is part of several initiatives to recruit and retain employees through racial equity. In 2019, CPS launched the Teacher Residency Program, a full-time, paid teacher training program that offers a path to the profession for career-changers with a passion for teaching. Residents gained hands-on experience during a year-long residency at a neighborhood school, working as a paid CPS employee, student-teaching alongside a mentor teacher. Residents receive discounted tuition as they pursue a degree in teaching at one of four CPS partner higher education institutions. Upon successful completion of the program, and a commitment to work at CPS for at least two additional years, residents are hired for a full-time CPS job teaching high-need subjects such as special education, to students in underserved communities.

In 2020, CPS established the Teach Chicago Tomorrow program with City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), and Illinois State University (ISU) to provide structured pathways for CPS graduates who want to return to the District as educators. CPS hires approximately 140 CPS graduates as teachers each year, and through Teach Chicago Tomorrow the District has set a long-term goal to triple the number of CPS grads hired annually to more than 500. These hirings are also crucial in reflecting the needs and representations of our communities.

 For more information about the GEM program, and the CPS Office of Equity, visit the CPS website at To learn more about teaching in CPS, please visit