CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is celebrating the contributions teachers make both in and outside the classroom this week as the District celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week. Since 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has designated the first full week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week to honor the people who have dedicated their careers to supporting and educating children. CPS joins the National PTA and districts across the nation as schools and communities come together to recognize the significant contributions teachers make in classrooms every day.
“Talented and empowered teachers are essential to Chicago Public Schools’ commitment to student-centered education,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “As the proud parent of two CPS students, I am honored to celebrate our educators this week and every week and extend my deepest thanks to them for their commitment to our students and our school community.”
Recognizing the importance of recruiting and retaining high-quality, diverse educators for CPS classrooms, the District developed a comprehensive strategy called Teach Chicago to meet the diverse needs of our students. Since launching the initiative in 2016, the District has made strategic investments to recruit and retain talented teachers and school leaders. Due to these efforts, CPS’ 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.
“One of the most important things we can do for our students is to hire, train, support and retain outstanding teachers and staff,” said Bogdana Chkoumbova. “We know it is critical that children can see themselves in those leading their classrooms and schools as well as our District and we continue to keep diversity, equity and inclusion in mind as we recruit and retain high-quality educators for our classrooms.”
In addition to supporting current educators, the District has made significant investments in developing pathways for CPS students to become the future educators and leaders of tomorrow, including the CPS Residency Program and Teach Chicago Tomorrow. Due to the District’s intentional focus on recruiting high-quality, diverse teachers, the percentage of new teachers who are Black and/or Latinx rose from 33 percent in 2017 to 48 percent in 2023. This year, the District also celebrated its largest and most diverse cohort of future Teach Chicago Tomorrow educators to date.
“Our teachers and support staff are driving the future of our classrooms and our communities every day,” said interim Chief of Teaching and Learning Mary Beck. “Our teachers’ focus on high-quality instruction, culturally-responsive learning experiences and social-emotional support ensures that our students are not only academically prepared to succeed after high school, but also socially, emotionally and culturally prepared to be successful members of their communities.”
CPS is home to a significant number of nationally-recognized, high-quality educators, including more than 1,000 National Board Certified Teachers. This year, 13 CPS educators were finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Award, a national award for excellence in teaching and/or school leadership. Six District educators were also recently recognized as Yale National Fellows and will participate in a national professional development program to support high-quality teachers.
School celebrations will take place across the district and will include a surprise teacher lounge makeover at an elementary school, funded by Children First Fund, the Chicago Public Schools Foundation. In addition to celebrating CPS educators, this week the District will also celebrate CPS nurses during National Nurse Appreciation Week with a private award ceremony on Friday.
Learn more about the District’s teacher recruitment and retention efforts at www.teach.cps.edu.