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Take Five with Joshua Long: Chief of the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS)

12 January 2024

Chief Long is committed to transparency, supporting school staff, and doing right by CPS students.

Headshot of Joshua Long

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.

In our first week back since winter break, we’re thrilled to spotlight Joshua Long, our District’s new Chief of ODLSS. In this role, Josh will provide leadership and strategic support around CPS’ instructional vision and goals for students with disabilities. 

A public servant with 20 years of experience, Josh has devoted his career to improving the day-to-day experiences of students with diverse learning needs by making sure they have the education, services, and opportunities they need to live successful, independent lives. His past experience includes serving as the principal of Southside Occupational Academy, a transition center for CPS students with intellectual disabilities, for 14 years, as well as working in CPS classrooms as a speech-language pathologist.

Josh was named the Chief of ODLSS by the Chicago Board of Education in December of 2023 and began serving in this role on January 1, 2024.

What made you want to work in the field of education?

I always wanted to work with children, but it wasn’t until I was an undergraduate at Indiana University that I learned about speech-language pathologists. I was immediately intrigued, because it was a role that combined science and education. I loved learning about language development, helping people with brain injuries, and supporting children with disabilities.

What inspired you to pursue roles in educational leadership?

I didn’t come into education knowing that I wanted to be a leader. But as time went on, I started wondering how I could make more of an impact. Right around the same time, my wife, (who is my most trusted advisor as well as a CPS special education teacher) and one of my mentors both encouraged me to become a school leader. I took that very seriously, thought about it, and jumped right in to pursue an administrative degree.

What are your top goals and priorities as Chief of ODLSS?

It’s important to me to be present and improve communication with our families and school communities right from the start. Something I have learned throughout my career is that it’s important to never lose sight of the “why.” And my “why” is our students. We are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that our students grow, accomplish their IEP goals, and are equipped with skills and resources to find success. Long term, I am committed to organizational transparency and making sure we have the systems and structures in place to give our principals and staff the resources and support they need to do right by our students.

What has been most fulfilling about your career so far?

Seeing kids make connections and have light bulb moments. I have always strongly believed that no matter a student’s age or ability, each one is capable of individual growth. Over the years, I’ve loved seeing how special educators can bring out the best in each student and celebrate their wins.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Spending time with my wife and our four children. Whether it’s going to sporting events, playing card games, or having movie nights at home; family time makes me the happiest.

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