Benito Juarez Community Academy
My name is Juan Carlos Ocon and I am the proud principal of Benito Juarez Community Academy. My journey in education began as a teacher at Sullivan high school in east Rogers Park where the concepts of family, community and scholarship come to life. My experience at Sullivan taught me what is possible in education for students of color. These values sustain our work at Juarez. Juarez, a competency-based education school, is a unique learning community that values and demonstrates respect for the individual and the educational experience at every level. The collective leadership at Juarez has created a school where teachers recognize and love the radical goodness of their students and challenge and support that unique individuality.
Why I choose to engage in equity work
I choose to engage in equity work because our students are immensely talented and deserve a new landscape for education. It is never too late for school to be what it might have been. Offering a first rate education that is grounded in equity is a moral imperative.
My equity challenge and how I work on it
My equity challenge is to rethink, recreate, reimagine, how school is done to students. I work on it through competency based education. Competency Based education is an anti-racist system that enables schools to prepare every student for success in college, career, and civic life.
What sustains me when equity work stalls, how do I stay motivated when the work gets hard, and how do I push myself and others to advance equity
What sustains and energizes me is our students. Their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and passions are transforming our world through civic engagement and action.
I've been so lucky to have found amazing thought partners and opportunity across every role I've had within the Chicago Public Schools. The work of organizations like the Chicago Public Education Fund and our district's new Equity Office have afforded me the opportunity to keep learning and growing as I engage in equity work. I've come to see equity work as all of my work. All individuals working within Chicago Public Schools have the opportunity to reflect how their work promotes equity and take action to improve outcomes for our students. How very fortunate we are!