October 21, 2022

A Note From CPS Leadership

Click here to view this letter in Spanish, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Filipino, Polish, Ukrainian, Urdu, or Vietnamese.
Dear CPS Families, Colleagues, and Supporters,

As a District, we’re fond of saying that “the best are with CPS.” Well, the students and staff at Curie Metropolitan HIgh School took that phrase to a whole new level this week when they received an international award known as the “World’s Best School Prize.”

Curie was one of just five schools — and the only school in North America — to receive this award from T4 Education, which is a global organization that seeks out schools around the world that are making a tangible impact on their students and surrounding community. Curie is being recognized for the ways in which its robust arts education program supports not only the nurturing of students’ talents, but also their social and emotional health.

I am thrilled to see this thriving neighborhood school in the international spotlight and look forward to watching the ways this $50,000 “World’s Best School Prize” will help them modernize their arts facilities, including the school auditorium. A huge congratulations to the entire community at Curie, especially Ms. Melinda Wilson, the veteran dance teacher who originally applied for the grant. Like so many teachers at Curie, Ms. Wilson has used her expertise in the arts to help students develop their skills, express their creativity, and build their confidence, and I am excited to see those efforts being recognized on such an impressive scale.

Students 5 and Up Now Eligible for Updated COVID Booster
We have some encouraging news as we move closer to the cold weather months, and to the gatherings we all want to enjoy with our loved ones this holiday season. Federal health officials have now authorized the most updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine, also called a “bivalent booster,” for children ages 5 to 11. This shot offers the greatest amount of protection against COVID-19, and is available to anyone over the age of 5 who has completed their primary vaccine series.

Thankfully, COVID cases in our schools are low right now. But the past two years have shown us that the virus spreads more rapidly when students and staff are out of school on breaks. With Thanksgiving and winter break both coming up, ensuring students and staff are up to date on their vaccinations is how we can make sure everyone can stay healthy and in the classroom where they belong.

I urge everyone who has not yet done so to visit cps.edu/vaccinations today and make an appointment to get your primary vaccine series and/or your updated vaccine booster. CPS is also offering flu shots alongside COVID vaccines at our four permanent regional clinics and both our elementary and high school mobile programs. I strongly urge everyone to get their flu shot along with their updated COVID vaccine, as this is another way to keep everyone healthy and in school throughout the fall and winter months.

Finally, a reminder that there is one week left in Principal Appreciation Month. Please take the time to let the school leaders in your life know what a difference they are making to our students, families, and communities each and every day!


Pedro Martinez
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Around the District

A headshot of Principal Edward Collins
Take Five with Principal Edward Collins of Burbank Elementary School
To celebrate Principal Appreciation Month, we are spotlighting CPS principals who were nominated by members of their school communities to be featured for their incredible leadership. Meet Edward Collins, principal of Luther Burbank Elementary School. 
Principal Collins began his CPS career as a classroom teacher at Ames Middle School right after graduating from DePaul University in 2003. After a couple of years, he moved to Walter L. Newberry Math and Science Academy, where he taught grades 5–8, served as the Student Council staff facilitator, and partnered with his colleagues to begin a teacher-led professional development committee. In 2011, Principal Collins became assistant principal at Newberry, where he served until stepping into his current position as principal of Burbank in 2021.
What led you to pursue a career in education?
I had fantastic role models. My mother was a longtime CPS educator and leader, and I also had an amazing seventh grade teacher who I still keep in the back of my mind as an example of what a teacher can be. Everything was a hands-on, collaborative experience in her classroom, and I’ve tried to carry that example with me as a teacher and administrator. I was a founding member of my high school’s Future Educators Club, and I worked as a CPS tutor for three summers in different school communities during college. Those were all really powerful learning experiences for me. 
How do you approach your role as a school leader?
I feel very fortunate to co-lead Burbank alongside our amazing assistant principal, Daisy López, and I approach this work collaboratively and with an ethic of care. The staff at Burbank already established such a warm and positive culture, and my goal as a school leader is to take that solid foundation and make the “just right” leadership moves so the school shines even brighter. I am always asking myself: what resources can I seek out to better support and empower staff? What types of programming and community partnerships can I connect with to help students and staff thrive? AP López and I also make it a priority to create opportunities for our families to flourish, such as hosting vaccine clinics, mobile DMV events, adult English language classes, and parent mentorship programs. We want to make sure our children, staff, and parents are all growing —that’s what a community school is all about. 
What is special about your community at Burbank Elementary?
Working at Burbank is a magical experience. This is such a beautiful, loving, and caring community. Our families really want to be involved in their children’s education and are active members of our community. All staff members are invested in developing both the character and academic readiness of the student body.  Families and staff model an ethic of care and as a result, our children come to school happy, ready to learn, grow, and work together. Our students are kind human beings, and this foundation of kindness is essential to creating the feeling of safety which in turn fosters learning. 
What is your favorite part of being a principal?
My favorite part is seeing the smiles on our students’ faces when I come into a classroom. I also treasure being able to support our students, staff, and families. I love creating positive, hands-on experiences for our community. I feel joy watching teachers bring topics to life so our students can have fun while they’re learning. Teaching and learning is serious work, and at Burbank we skillfully stagger the serious work, embedding it with creativity, fun, and student-led assemblies. 
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I really enjoy spending time with my family, especially my parents and my two grandmothers. My grandmothers are in their 90s now, and I have a deep appreciation for the time we spend together. I love being an uncle to my nieces — my younger sister had twins a little over a year ago, and they are the happiest little girls. They love to smile, give hugs, and eat. I also got my first dog during the pandemic, an English bulldog named Dozer, and I’ve never looked back! He’s the best part of coming home.
Help Us Feature Your Classroom, School, or CPS Team
Want to see the work of your school or CPS team highlighted in this newsletter, on our blog, or across our District’s social media channels? Then please complete this brief form to share your good news! Some topics to consider in the coming weeks include the following:
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do you work with a breast cancer survivor at CPS, or with someone who raises awareness for this disease? Please check with the person before sharing their story with us using the above form.
  • Halloween is just a few weeks away. Use the form to share any events or activities happening at your school that are related to Halloween. 
  • November 11 is Veterans Day. Is there a member of the CPS community who has served our country and who you would like to see featured by the District? Tell us about them using the form.
  • November also kicks off the holiday season, and we know that many schools like to give back by hosting food drives and other community giving events. Share those events with us using the form. 
We know that there are amazing things happening every day across our District, and we want to feature those moments! Please help us shine a spotlight on your program, accomplishment, or event by telling us about them using the form above.
Fabiola standing in front of a row of lockers
Student and Staff Spotlights
Fabiola’s time at Foreman College and Career Academy is off to a hopeful start. While she admits that the transition to high school has been tiring at times, she’s doing well academically and has let her extroverted side shine when making new friends. She’s also hopeful that she will be able to use the next four years to discover her passions. Currently, she’s interested in becoming a lawyer one day and would use that career path to support her family whenever possible.

And our District is continuing to celebrate Principal Appreciation Month! This week, we’re highlighting Principal Raul Magdaleno from Kelly College Prep. Principal Magdaleno has been connected to the Kelly community since becoming the school’s soccer coach in 1999. While becoming a school leader was never one of his goals, he’s grown to love the role because it allows him to collaborate with the entire school community. This year, he’s using that collaboration to prioritize student voice and ensure students’ social-emotional needs are being met.
Arts Opportunity for 12th Graders: All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition 
Submissions for the 2023 All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition are open now until November 28th, 2022. All 12th grade students from any CPS school (including charter, contract, and options schools) are encouraged to submit their artwork for a chance to exhibit their work and gain exposure among selected college admissions representatives. Please review the 2022–23 Senior Portfolio Submission Guidelines before submitting artwork — the guidelines contain a link to the submission form. In addition, artwork selected for the Senior Portfolio Exhibition or chosen as an Honorable Mention will be considered for inclusion in the Art on theMART exhibition. If you have any questions, please contact allcityarts@cps.edu.
Limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver Expiring Soon
The limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver will be expiring on Monday, October 31, 2022. This waiver allows individuals to receive credit for past periods of repayment on their loans that would not otherwise qualify for the PSLF program. Starting on November 1, 2022, the PSLF program will return to its standard requirements. Click here to learn more. 

The PSLF program is separate from the Federal Student Loan Debt Relief program that was recently announced. To apply for debt relief through this program, please click here.
GoCPS Application Process Open Through December 2, 2022
The District’s GoCPS platform allows families to research and apply for all District and charter high schools and all District elementary schools in one place at go.cps.edu. Before the December 2 application deadline, families are encouraged to attend open houses for the schools they are interested in and research their options on the GoCPS website. For answers to common GoCPS questions, please click here for questions related to our high schools and click here for questions related to our elementary schools.
Professional Development Opportunity: Nurturing Teacher Leadership
In collaboration with the Chicago Teachers Union, the Nurturing Teacher Leadership (NTL) program is a two-year FREE professional development and candidate support that prepares Chicago Public School teachers, counselors, and librarians for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification, the highest credential a teacher or counselor can earn. For anyone interested in learning more about this program, please sign up for the next Virtual Recruitment meeting on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 via this link or contact Lynn Cherkasky-Davis, Director of Teacher Leadership at lynncherkasky-davis@ctuf.org.
Supporting Newcomers in Need
For the past few months, Chicago has been welcoming hundreds of new families to our city, many of them with children who are enrolling in our schools. As a district, we want to provide these newly-arriving students with resources that will equip them for success in our classrooms and beyond. 
You can lend a hand to this effort by participating in a donation drive being hosted through the CPS Central Office locations. You can support our newcomers during this transitional time by providing any of the following items: 
  • Coats
  • Jackets
  • Scarves
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Pants 
  • Shirts 
  • Shoes
Please note, all donations must be brand new and suitable for children ages 3–18. Donation boxes are located in the lobbies of all CPS Central Office locations (Loop, Garfield Park, Colman, and Bridgeport.) You can also make a monetary donation by clicking here.
2023 Golden Apple Award Nominations Now Open 
Nominations are now open to submit impactful teachers and school leaders to be considered for a 2023 Golden Apple Award. Golden Apple is currently accepting nominations for teachers serving between grades 4–8 for the 2023 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and school leaders serving between grades Pre-K–12 for the 2023 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership. Finalists will be announced in early 2023. To nominate a teacher, please click here. To nominate a school leader, please click here.
Nominate Someone from Your School for a Those Who Excel or Teacher of the Year Award
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is currently accepting nominators for its annual Those Who Excel and Teacher of the Year Awards. These awards honor outstanding teachers, admini