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Take Five with Yehiri Gonzalez: Teach Chicago Tomorrow Scholar

16 February 2024

Throughout her time with Teach Chicago Tomorrow, Yehiri has fully immersed herself in every opportunity available to her.

A photo of Yehiri Gonzalez

Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.

This week, we’re thrilled to spotlight Yehiri Gonzalez: CPS graduate, aspiring bilingual elementary teacher, and member of the first-ever Teach Chicago Tomorrow cohort!

Yehiri is currently a junior at Illinois State University, but she first heard about Teach Chicago Tomorrow when she was still in high school at Lane Tech College Prep. She was immediately interested; Yehiri has always wanted to be a teacher, and there has never been any question about the fact that she wants to teach in CPS. 

Through the Teach Chicago Tomorrow Pathways Partnership Program, Yehiri spent two years at Truman College and earned her associate’s degree before transferring to Illinois State University for her final two years.

Throughout her time with the program, Yehiri has fully immersed herself in every opportunity available to her, like working with young children as a wildlife educator at the Lincoln Park Zoo and becoming a high school math tutor through the CPS Tutor Corps. This wide range of experience has given Yehiri valuable knowledge and helped her explore what exactly she wants to do in the future. Currently, Yehiri is busy becoming a short-term substitute teacher and getting hands-on classroom experience during her clinicals!

What has been the best part so far of your experience with Teach Chicago Tomorrow?

Getting to work with students right away. I was a little scared at first, because I had heard of people in other programs getting no experience working with kids until it was time to student-teach and needing to build that whole skill-set in a very short amount of time. However, I think Teach Chicago Tomorrow has done an excellent job at connecting us with opportunities to work with students throughout the whole program. The program has also really helped me come out of my shell.

What is one lesson you’ve learned during your time with the program?

I’ve learned how important it is to view my background as a strength! I used to be really shy about talking openly about my life and some of the harder experiences I’ve gone through. But when you open up to people, it’s an opportunity for them to connect with you. Especially for fellow future teachers, your unique experiences are an asset to your future students!

Where do you see yourself once you graduate?

In my own classroom! Right now, I am gravitating toward second grade, and I want to teach in both English and Spanish in a bilingual school or program. I would love to give back to my own community, Hermosa. I could also see myself helping with Teach Chicago Tomorrow by talking with younger students and helping them apply for scholarships.

What advice do you have for any younger students who might want to pursue the Teach Chicago Tomorrow program?

Don’t be afraid to dive in! It might be scary, but we need you. Your background is a strength, and we need more Black, brown, and bilingual teachers in our schools!

What do you like to do outside of school?

I really like to read. My current favorite is Here Are the Tears I You We Didn’t Cry by Vianney Casas, and it’s about the experience of being a first-generation student and a daughter of Mexican immigrants. It’s really helped me on my journey of discovering who I am and how I can use my identity as an asset in my future classroom.

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