December 2, 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,
I hope that everyone enjoyed a Thanksgiving break that was filled with rest and quality time with loved ones.
Champions in the Kitchen
Curie students cooking Thanksgiving dinner
Several of our schools got a jump on the festivities even before the break, including a group of culinary arts students from Curie High School, who prepared an amazing Thanksgiving spread for their classmates and teachers. These budding chefs prepared homemade chicken stock, turkey brine, compound butter, and gravy, along with stuffing, rolls, and duchess potatoes. They topped things off with an apple crumble complete with cinnamon granola, salted caramel, and vanilla whipped cream. 
Champions on the Field
While most of us may have been focused on food this Thanksgiving, many CPS athletes were working off calories by rising to new heights in athletics.
A group of students in a gym
Since 1927, the top high school football team from the Chicago Catholic League and the Chicago Public League have faced off in the annual Prep Bowl. This year, the Simeon Career Academy Wolverines came out on top, fending off a last-second field goal try to defeat the Friars of Fenwick High School by a score of 33-30. This was the first Chicago Public League Prep Bowl victory since 2017.
Meanwhile, Peace and Education High School took home a division title for flag football, and the Huskies of Northside Learning Center took 1st Place in floor hockey at the Special Olympics Illinois competition. And Avi K., a sophomore Chess player at Lane Tech High School, earned the title of National Master at the 30th Annual Midwest Class Championship this fall. He is one of just 30 players in his age range to have earned the title of National Master in 2022.  
Champions for the Environment
Mount Vernon students planting a tree
While our athletes have been cleaning up on the field, students from around the District have been engaged in cleaning of an entirely different kind, creating healthier communities for all of us by focusing on the environment. With support from their teacher, Ms. Turgeon, students from the Environmental Club at Von Steuben High School recently led a Community Clean-Up Day to help beautify the neighborhood around their school. Meanwhile, at Mount Vernon Elementary, students planted six trees donated by the Morton Arboretum in Jackie Robinson Park. This was part of an ongoing project to create a nature play space for the students of this school community. 
Champions of Technology
Students smiling with Chromebooks
Finally today, I am pleased to introduce two new members of our CPS leadership team. The first is Shelly Banks, our District’s Chief Internal Auditor. Shelly comes to CPS with nearly 20 years of executive leadership experience in Illinois government, having been focused on audit, management, organizational development, technology, and much more. 
Our second new leader is Norman Fleming - the District’s Chief Information Officer. Norman brings more than 25 years of experience in digital transformation to his role at CPS, which will include providing strategic leadership and coordination in the use of technology as we build on our status as a 1:1 student device school district.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that student devices must be a mandatory part of the teaching and learning environment. Access to federal funding has allowed CPS to provide schools that were not 1:1 prior to the pandemic the devices to achieve that status, and we will budget appropriately to support the maintenance and replacement of these devices while continuing to advocate for the funding we need to keep this technology at the center of our instructional plan. 
I am excited to welcome Norman and Shelly to the CPS team and look forward to seeing how their talent and expertise will improve the experience of our students and school communities. 

Pedro Martinez
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Take Five with Assistant Principal Joseph Rosen
A photo of AP Rosen speaking at a podium
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.
This week, we are pleased to introduce Joseph Rosen, the assistant principal at Cesar E Chávez Multicultural Academic Center. Earlier this fall, AP Rosen was awarded the 2022 Everyday Champion Administrator Award from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. This award recognizes administrators and educators who have gone “above and beyond” in serving students with learning disabilities, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Born and raised in Chicago, AP Rosen’s educational career began when his cousin encouraged him to apply for Teach for America after college graduation. Even though AP Rosen had originally planned on going to medical school, he quickly discovered that he loved everything about teaching. Within only a few months, AP Rosen realized that he couldn’t see himself ever leaving the education profession, and he ended up teaching at McDowell Elementary for six years. He then served as a resident principal on the near west side before becoming the assistant principal at Chávez almost nine years ago.

What is your approach to serving students who have the greatest learning needs?
We are very data-oriented at Chávez, and we do a lot of group collaboration and targeted supports. For example, this past year we identified which students had the highest percentage of failed assignments. Then, we sat down as a team to figure out how we could better serve these students and what supports might be missing. We don’t let anyone slip through the cracks. At Chávez, every single staff member really cares about doing everything they can to help each student succeed.

What is most rewarding about your job?
Seeing student results. I really love seeing our students succeed, especially when they head off to high school. I also take a lot of pride in the reading growth our young students have made. This is a credit to our absolutely amazing primary teachers, and I love being able to recognize their work. For example, every three years the education company Amplify spotlights what’s working well in literacy education, and Chávez has been recognized twice since I’ve been here.

What is special about your school community?
The culture. Whenever guests visit, the first thing they say is that it just feels good to be here. We are incredibly value-focused; our community values are interwoven throughout everything we do. We also prioritize building strong relationships among students, staff, and our community members. I am so proud to be part of this community!

What do you like to do outside of work?
I do a lot of climbing — I boulder and top rope climb on the weekends. It’s really fun. I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m also not “not” afraid of heights. I also like to golf with my family when the weather is nice. 

What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?
I have been on Family Feud! Two of my cousins, two of my brothers, and I all got flown out to Atlanta to film. We were the last family to get called, and we got absolutely crushed. Our minds just went blank. It might have been one of the biggest losses in Family Feud history!
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 as 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 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.
GoCPS Deadline Extended Until Thursday, December 8
The deadline to apply for all District and charter high schools and all District elementary schools in one place using the District’s GoCPS platform has been extended until Thursday, December 8, 2022. Families can visit to attend open houses for the schools they are interested in, research their options, and apply. 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.
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:

With the holiday season upon us, we know that many schools like to host festive celebrations and performances. 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. Aubrey Nieves smiling with her son, Carmelo
Student and Staff Spotlights
There are exceptional neighborhood elementary schools across Chicago, and nothing demonstrates that better than the many staff members who enroll their children at the schools where they work. At Von Linnė Elementary School in Avondale, science teacher Ms. Aubrey Nieves is extremely appreciative of the support of her colleagues and the connections her school has forged with the surrounding community. As a mom, she also loves the academic programming available to her son Carmelo, who is currently in the first grade and especially loves his enrichment classes in art and music. 

And, at Nobel Elementary School in Humboldt Park, fifth-grade student Eduardo is thankful to have the support of his mom, Ms. Ana Caracheo, who is never too far away since she works as a bilingual clerk at the school. Ms. Caracheo has worked at the school for more than a decade, and her approach to her work reflects her focus on providing what is best for other children and families, just as she would for Eduardo.
A Look Around the District 
This week, we’re celebrating accomplishments and successful events at schools around Chicago. We’re starting at Bogan High School, where students led a two-day TEDx event. They gave speeches on global issues to community members and students from other schools. Coonley Elementary School held a Fall Family Reading Night. Students enjoyed listening to books read by a variety of guest speakers. 

Students at Nathan Davis Elementary School have been celebrating Native American Heritage Month. They used their knowledge of Native American history and STEM skills to create tepees that were as big as they are. Von Linné Elementary School has been incorporating the World Cup into classroom instruction, and students of all grade levels have had a blast cheering on their favorite team. And, finally, we have to give a shout-out to students at Columbia Explorers Academy for their hard work in creating a school newspaper. Check out their latest edition here.
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.
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.