November 18, 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,
Next week is Thanksgiving - the perfect time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for this year. For me, that definitely includes the opportunity I now have to lead the school District that helped shape who I am. I’m grateful for that chance to give back, and for the dedicated team of educators and staff who spend their days making a difference in the lives of our city’s youth. I’m also extremely grateful to the CPS families who entrust us with the education of their children, and to our students themselves, who work so hard in their classrooms every single day.
Students at Haines Elementary School dressed up as turkeys
Many of our schools hosted celebrations this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Haines Elementary School in Chinatown hosted a Fall Fest for its students complete with food and homemade turkey hats. Pre-K students at Beidler Elementary School in East Garfield Park enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast. And Colemon Academy on the Far South Side has been giving thanks to all the families and staff members that go above and beyond to make students smile. This year, they delivered special meals to students, an idea that stemmed from the school’s focus on student voice and engagement.

Students at Nightingale Elementary School on the Southwest Side and Dever Elementary School on the Northwest Side focused on community service to celebrate Thanksgiving. They hosted food drives throughout the week. Students at Ruiz Elementary School brought some Thanksgiving fun to their physical education class. They held a build-a-turkey relay race using objects like hula hoops, cones, and colored cloth. And students at Taylor Elementary School on the Southeast Side had a blast designing their own Thanksgiving parade balloons!
Photos of the coat giveaway at Cameron Elementary School
And thanks to the Children First Fund and Operation Warm, many CPS students now have new winter coats to keep them comfortable as temperatures grow colder. This week, our partners at Wells Fargo hosted coat giveaways at Aldridge, Bond, Cameron, and Finkl elementary schools. We are extremely grateful for their generosity to these school communities this holiday season.

I want to wish everyone in our CPS community a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. I look forward to seeing all of our students back in class on Monday, November 28 fully rested and ready to finish the semester strong!


Pedro Martinez
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Around the District

Headshot of Brooke Clark
Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many CPS staff members who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.
Thanksgiving week is the perfect opportunity to introduce Ms. Brooke Clark, an English teacher at Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School (BOYCP), and a mentor whose impact has been profoundly felt by her students. Their below testimonies show just how thankful they are to have crossed paths with this extraordinary teacher. 

Earlier this year, Ms. Clark received a 2022 Outstanding Educator Award from the University of Chicago, an award program where new UChicago students have the opportunity to “recognize the educators who have made a difference in their lives.” Angel C., a freshman at UChicago and one of Ms. Clark’s former students, nominated her to receive this award by writing: "Ms. Clark is outstanding not because she is a great teacher, but because she has been my mentor in life… There are countless reasons why Ms. Clark is so outstanding, [and] I see them in the smile of every person who talks to her."

Angel is not the only student who has felt Ms. Clark’s impact as an educator. Berenise B. describes Ms. Clark’s class as a supportive and comforting learning environment that helps them feel safe, seen, acknowledged, and appreciated. Berenise also reflected, “Ms. Clark has helped me to understand that my grades do not define me as a person and that failure along the way is absolutely acceptable… Ms. Clark is one of the best teachers I have ever had in my life because she gets to know her students.” 

Another student, Jordy E., echoed this appreciation for Ms. Clark’s ability to forge connections in her classroom, saying: “No amount of words could truly describe how much Ms. Clark has done for me and my person… Ms. Clark has such a magical way to connect with students; she makes us laugh, form connections with other students, and all the while learning lessons in creative and fun [ways]. I will forever be changed by my interactions with Ms. Clark, and these moments will always remain close to my heart.”
What made you want to become a teacher?
I love to learn. It’s ironic, because I never considered myself much of a scholar. As a student who played softball, I mainly identified as an athlete. That was until an English teacher of mine wrote on one of my essays that they could tell I had a lot to say. No one had ever told me that before, and it helped me realize that being a scholar could also be a part of my identity. 

In addition to the teachers who impacted me as a student, I always knew I wanted to be around young people and their energy and curiosity. Now that I have been teaching for eight years, I cannot imagine any other profession. I am grateful to my own teachers who activated my love of learning, and grateful that I chose this path. 

What do you love about teaching?
I love high schoolers’ curiosity and the authenticity of their personalities. I laugh and learn so much on a daily basis, and I am regularly challenged by their inquiries. My students make me a better scholar and a better person. It’s also really special to be able to facilitate an environment where we read and process texts that are highly emotional. Those emotions run the gamut. We read everything from Cyrano de Bergerac, which is a truly hilarious play, to The Kite Runner, which is a gut-wrenching novel.

How did you feel when you heard that you received an Outstanding Educator Award?
I felt loved. I was surprised when I got the announcement, but I wasn’t surprised when I found out why and who nominated me. I have been tracking this former student’s journey throughout the years. I wrote him a recommendation letter when he was applying to UChicago and cried with his parents when he got accepted. My old student is a very thoughtful and appreciative person, so I am not surprised that he made such a kind gesture.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I don’t have much free time, but when I do I am very active. I like to run and ride my bike, and I have continued my passion for softball — I am the softball coach at BOYCP, and I play with my colleagues on the Chicago Teachers Union softball team. I am also a reader. I love a good romance story, and my favorite authors are Jane Austen, David Sedaris, and Khaled Hosseini. I try to read a mix of texts that I am interested in and texts that my students are interested in; I like to stay up-to-date with current young adult literature.

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions?
I have a really sweet, goofy dog named Sirius, and a lot of holiday traditions revolve around him. My significant other and I just started a new tradition of dressing him up for Halloween. And for Thanksgiving, we don’t want Sirius to be left out when we make our plates, so we make him his own plate with a dog-friendly version of a Thanksgiving feast!
Staying Safe and Healthy During the Holiday Season
As the weather gets colder and families look ahead to holiday gatherings, staying safe and healthy is incredibly important. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are increasing, and both COVID and flu infections tend to rise as the weather gets colder and students and staff gather outside of the school setting. Here are some steps to take to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your school community.

  • While CPS is mask-optional, we highly encourage wearing a mask in school to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses.
  • Free COVID-19 tests are available at every school; we strongly encourage students and staff to contact school administration to get tests, and use these tests before and after the Thanksgiving break and winter break. If you test positive, please report the positive test here and please follow the guidance here.
  • Being up-to-date on vaccinations is one of the best ways you can keep your family safe as we enter the winter months. CPS continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines, including the new “bivalent booster” that offers increased protection against the virus, at a variety of sites. Please visit to review your options and make an appointment. 
  • CPS is also offering flu shots alongside COVID vaccines at our four permanent regional clinics and both our elementary and high school mobile programs. For additional opportunities to get a flu shot, visit this page.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reported an increase of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases among young children in Chicago. RSV is a common respiratory virus that most people recover from in one to two weeks. However, RSV can pose very serious health risks for young children, including leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. For more information on RSV, please read this fact sheet (English | Spanish) from CDPH.
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:

November is the start of the holiday season, and we know that many schools like to host festive celebrations. We know that schools also often give back by hosting food drives and other community giving events. Please help us shine a spotlight on these and other events by telling us about them using the form above.
Ms. Bianca Treadwell and three of her children: Daniyah, Logan, and Kaden.
Student and Staff Spotlights
This Thanksgiving, Ms. Bianca Treadwell is thankful for her new job at Deneen School of Excellence, and she’s even more thankful that she gets to be part of the Deneen community with three of her children, Daniyah, Logan, and Kaden. The three of them are in seventh grade, third grade, and kindergarten, and each of them has gotten off to a great start this school year. They are looking forward to continuing to take advantage of all that Deneen has to offer while also building their relationships with each other. 

We’re also highlighting Principal Tyrese Graham and all the work he has done to bring Uplift High School to the next level over the past five years. From high-quality Early College STEAM programming to many different facility upgrades, the school has blossomed into a true gem in the community. Now, Principal Graham’s goals include further embedding Uplift within the Uptown community so that its students and families know about all the opportunities the school has to offer.
Four students from Corliss High School who are now certified commercial license drone pilots
Students at Corliss High School Earn Their Commercial Drone Pilot License
Four students from Corliss High School are now certified commercial license drone pilots. To earn their license, each student participated in an intensive study program at their school and passed a certification exam at Midway Airport. One of the students, A’Janay, is the youngest Black woman in the country to hold this license. These students were recognized for all of their hard work and dedication at a celebration held at Corliss this week. Great job A’Janay, Ivory, Jonathan, and Vincent!
Two CPS Students Take On New Leadership Role 
Sareena Shah, a senior at Payton College Prep, and Jeremiah Griffin, a junior at Lindblom High School, have joined the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) 2022-23 Student Advisory Council. In this role, Sareena and Jeremiah will join more than 20 high school students from across Illinois to help ISBE develop and implement policies. They will also research and present on a variety of issues that are important to students to help create solutions for some of the  most pressing challenges that are impacting student outcomes. Congratulations Sareena and Jeremiah!
CPS Highlighted as National Leader Regarding Substitute Coverage
A new study highlights impressive strides the District has made to ensure that schools across Chicago can rely on consistent substitute coverage to supplement their staffing needs. By implementing a targeted bonus program that provides additional financial incentives for working as a substitute in one of the District’s highest-need schools, CPS has substantially improved coverage equity and raised student achievement. Click here for more information about this program.
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
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 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.
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, administrators, school personnel, and volunteers who have made significant contributions to Illinois schools. Nominations will be accepted on the ISBE website through November 18.
Special Savings on Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker for CPS Staff
Journey to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair with Christopher Wheeldon’s adaptation of the holiday masterpiece. Magic is on the horizon for young Marie when a visit from the mysterious Great Impresario sets off a Christmas Eve dream of whirlwind romance and adventure. Enjoy 20 percent savings on tickets as a CPS staff member (discount excludes weekend matinees and price level 6; not valid on previously purchased tickets; restrictions apply). Go to to purchase and use the code CPS20.