Chicago Public Schools Celebrates Future Educators
01 May 2023
Teach Chicago Tomorrow “Signing Day” Recognizes Students Who Are Pursuing a Career in Education
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will honor students who have chosen to pursue a career in education during a Signing Day celebration today at the Chicago Cultural Center. This year, more than 60 CPS students committed to join the District’s Teach Chicago Tomorrow program, an initiative designed to help CPS graduates become CPS teachers by investing in research-based student support, including dedicated advising, career planning, financial planning, and paid work opportunities, among others.
“Teach Chicago Tomorrow empowers our students to build a strong foundation for their future career in education while expanding the District’s commitment to growing the teacher pipeline right here in Chicago,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “These students are the future of CPS and our future has never looked brighter. I can’t wait to welcome them back into our classrooms as educators in four years.”
Teach Chicago Tomorrow is the result of an ongoing partnership between CPS, City Colleges of Chicago, and several local universities including Illinois State University, Roosevelt University and Northeastern Illinois University which is designed to provide CPS students with a pathway to complete college, earn a teaching credential and begin a career with CPS. Now in its third year, the program has more than doubled in size, with 62 high school seniors joining Teach Chicago Tomorrow so far this year. More than 80 percent of this year’s students come from the South and West sides of the city.
“As a District, we are committed to investing in current and future educators to build and maintain a pipeline of diverse teachers and school leaders who reflect the students they serve,” said CPS Chief Talent Officer Ben Felton. “We are proud to partner with City Colleges of Chicago and local universities to ensure our students have access to high-quality teacher preparation programs and the supports they need to succeed when they get there.”
Teach Chicago Tomorrow creates a clear pathway for CPS students to become a teacher while providing structured supports that help students achieve their goals. Participating students first earn an associate degree at City Colleges of Chicago by successfully completing general education coursework requirements and then earn their bachelor’s degree by completing the final two years of college at either Illinois State University, Roosevelt University, or Northeastern Illinois University. After undertaking a year-long student teaching experience within CPS schools and earning their Illinois teaching license, students will have priority for job placement at CPS schools.
Yehiri Gonzalez, a CPS graduate and current sophomore at Harry S. Truman Community College, will attend Illinois State University next year as part of Teach Chicago Tomorrow’s Illinois State University Pathways Partnership to complete her teaching degree. While a student at CPS, Gonzalez was an English language learner and attended 10 CPS schools before graduation.
“I know how important it is for our teachers and schools to create a welcoming environment for students, especially students whose first language isn’t English,” said Gonzalez. “I was lucky to have teachers like that and when I graduate I hope to be a welcoming, supportive teacher for my students. Teach Chicago Tomorrow has given me the resources and opportunities I need to grow personally and professionally to make that dream a reality.”
Teach Chicago Tomorrow is a core component of the District’s Teach Chicago program, CPS’ initiative to attract and retain highly qualified, diverse teachers for every classroom in the city. Through Teach Chicago, the District’s staffing levels have improved substantially - up nearly 1,500 teachers since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year - with an emphasis on supporting hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-staff positions, like special education. The percentage of new teachers who are Black and/or Latinx has risen from 33 percent in 2017 to 48 percent in 2023.
Amir Jarrell, a senior at Englewood STEM High School who plans to become a high school English teacher, said he would encourage other students to apply for Teach Chicago Tomorrow.
“I want to teach so I can help students who look like me,” said Jarrell. “Teach Chicago Tomorrow has helped me connect with people like me who want to make a difference in our schools. I can’t wait to get started so I can come back to CPS and build a new generation of great writers.”
Teach Chicago Tomorrow is just one of the District’s efforts to build a diverse pipeline of educators and school leaders. The District’s efforts include historic investment in recruitment and retention efforts, including the CPS Residency Program which aims to expand the pipeline of teachers and ensure that the District recruits and retains more teachers of color. The District was also the only K-12 school district in the country to receive a 2022 Teacher Quality Project grant to better recruit, prepare, develop and retain a strong teacher workforce and enhance existing pathways in partnership with local colleges and universities.
High school seniors have until July 1st to sign up for next year’s Teach Chicago Tomorrow program. More information can be found at www.teach.cps.edu/teach-chicago-tomorrow. Key supporters of Teach Chicago include Crown Family Philanthropies and the Joyce Foundation. Additional support is provided by the US Department of Education.