March 31, 2023

A Note From CPS Leadership

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

I must begin by acknowledging the tragedy that took the lives of three students and three adults at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this week. My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones as a result of such senseless violence, and to the school community that must now begin the hard work of healing from this trauma. 

Far too many children, from Nashville, to Chicago, to countless communities nationwide, are suffering from the devastating effects of gun violence. As a District, our mission is to do everything possible to assure their safety at school, and to help them process these tragic events in an emotionally healthy way.

At CPS, we take this responsibility extremely seriously, with an approach that is grounded in proactively providing for the physical and emotional safety of our students, and that creates a culture centered on building trusting relationships between students and staff. We are also fully committed to meeting students’ social and emotional needs, and have encouraged our educators to use The Day After guidance when discussing the tragic events in Nashville with their students. This resource helps create a safe space where children can voice their concerns and speak openly about their feelings.

Providing Safety and Enrichment During Spring Break
Our responsibility to students extends beyond the school day. We know how important it is that young people have programs and opportunities that will keep them safe and engaged when they are not in the classroom. That’s why CPS has significantly expanded our Out-of-School-Time programming, and why we are partnering with agencies around the city to give students a variety of exciting options during spring break (April 37).

Please visit the following pages to find programs that are available for students next week: 
  • Spring Break Camps through the Chicago Park District: Kids can enjoy their school break with other kids their age, in a fun and supervised environment, at an affordable cost. In "spring break" camp, kids will participate in recreational activities, arts and crafts, and sports along with other fun activities. Some specialty camps are also available.
  • Chicago Public Library: Chicago Public Library offers exciting programming all across the city for kids and teens all year round, including over spring break. Explore events for kids here, and events for teens here
  • My CHI. My Future.: The city is offering a variety of opportunities for youth during spring break through My CHI. My Future. Students can join a day of service with the Chicago Park District, attend a Chicago Public Library arts event, or build on their coding skills with Code Your Dreams. Young Chicagoans can also apply for summer jobs through One Summer Chicago and the Chicago Park District
  • Spring Break at Navy Pier: Navy Pier will offer artisan markets and free workshops starting Saturday, April 1 through Saturday, April 8 beginning at noon. Activities include one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, interactive technology lessons, photography classes, music, and dance. Visit the Navy Pier website or download this schedule for information. 

Safe Haven Program
For over 10 years, the Safe Haven Program has kept CPS kids safe, healthy, and active during spring and summer breaks as well as after school. The program incorporates social-emotional learning, academic assistance, and fun. Additionally, students get healthy meals and snacks at no cost to their families. Sites are open from Monday, April 3 to Friday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here for a list of Safe Haven sites that will be open over spring break.

Spring Break COVID-19 Safety
We want all students to stay safe, engaged, AND healthy during spring break. Please follow these tips to keep children protected from COVID-19 while they are away from school next week:
  • Get tested: Take a COVID-19 test before and after large gatherings, and before returning to school on Monday, April 10. 
  • Get vaccinated: Make sure you and your family are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Please visit to get more information and make an appointment. 
  • Stay home if you’re sick, even if your symptoms are mild or you don’t think you have COVID-19.
I wish everyone a safe, productive, and enjoyable spring break, and I look forward to seeing our students back in the classroom on Monday, April 10, ready to finish the school year strong!


Pedro Martinez
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Around the District

Photos of Ms. Helen Chan, Ms. Andrea Salgado, Mr. Justin Wrzesinski, and Ms. Emily Brown
Highlighting Four of our Golden Apple Finalists
This month, we are highlighting each of our Golden Apple Award finalists by showcasing the amazing work they are leading in their schools. These educators represent schools from all over Chicago, and each of them shares a commitment to helping their students grow both inside and outside of the classroom. Read our first feature here, and our second feature here. And read more about our final four finalists here: Ms. Helen Chan, Ms. Andrea Salgado, Mr. Justin Wrzesinski, and Ms. Emily Brown.
Help Us Highlight Your School
One of our goals for 2023 is to highlight more of the amazing things that are happening day-to-day in our schools, along with the people who are making them happen. There is no better source for this good news than you — the members of our school communities — so we hope you will consider sharing your stories by completing this brief form.
Some ideas to consider:
  • The month of April includes both Assistant Principal Appreciation Week and School Clerk Appreciation Day. Tell us about an AP or clerk who is making a difference in your school community!
  • Earth Day is coming up on April 22. Is your school doing anything special, or is there an environmental or sustainability program underway that deserves a spotlight?
Help us show the world that the best are with CPS! Fill out this form so that we can share your stories in this newsletter, on our District’s blog, and across our CPS social media channels.
Headshot of Sofia Adawy Akintunde
Take Five with Dr. Sofia Adawy Akintunde: Chief Health Officer
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.
In honor of National Doctors' Day on March 30, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce CPS’ new Chief Health Officer, Dr. Sofia Adawy Akintunde. As Chief Health Officer, Dr. Sofia is responsible for eliminating health-related barriers to learning and advancing child health equity within our schools. She describes her work as being at the center of social justice, education, and healing. 

What is your approach when thinking about the health and well-being of students?
I believe that what we traditionally think about as “health care” is actually “sick care.” We think about getting strep throat and needing to go to the doctor. And while that is an important component of tending to one’s health, we often gloss over the reasons people might get sick in the first place, or even the importance of mental health and social health. 

Read more of our Q&A with Dr. Sofia here.
Photo of Ms. Heather Collins
Staff Spotlights
March is both Social Work Month and Music In Our Schools Month, and we have many staff members to celebrate during this time. We’re extremely excited to highlight social workers like Ms. Heather Collins. She is making a big difference for her students at Cook Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side by creating safe, restorative spaces in the school and working with student groups to build self-management and social awareness skills.

And we have phenomenal music teachers across CPS. Ms. Andrea Malek, Ms. Ashley Barajas-Galan, Dr. Jenai Jenkins, and Ms. Meghan Rieger are just four of them. They each share a passion for encouraging students to try their best and reminding them that it is okay to make mistakes. They also strive to help students find joy in music, whether they are singing, playing instruments, or simply listening to it.
Photos of students participating in the NASCAR Design Thinking Challenge at Peterson Elementary
A Look Around the District
Check out these highlights from around the District!

Peterson Elementary recently took part in the NASCAR Design Thinking Challenge to help support its students in becoming community leaders and cultural ambassadors. Students were welcomed by race day decorations around the school building, preparing them for a fun STEAM challenge of designing safety helmets for race car drivers.

At Courtenay Elementary, the SEL committee hosted a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) initiative for the month of March. Students were encouraged to visit the committee’s bulletin board to learn about ways to show kindness to others, which they documented on popsicle sticks!

Marshall High School’s students traveled to Springfield to participate in the Agriculture Legislative Day. On the trip, they were able to meet with Lt. Gov. Stratton to discuss the importance of agriculture in our state and within Chicago.

And at North-Grand High School, senior student Jimena Cuautle was recently awarded the Illinois HOSA Scholarship. The Illinois HOSA- Future Health Professionals is an organization dedicated to providing career and technical education knowledge to students who are interested in pursuing careers in health science technology. Congratulations, Jimena!
Important Information for Families Receiving Medicaid Benefits
We want to let families know that the federal government will be ending the COVID-19 public health emergency this spring. During the public health emergency, families receiving Medicaid were automatically re-enrolled in the program. But now that the public health emergency is ending, families will again need to renew their Medicaid benefits starting this year. 

The State of Illinois will begin mailing out renewal forms starting in May 2023. If your family currently receives Medicaid benefits, we strongly encourage you to make sure your contact information in the state’s database is up-to-date so you can receive your renewal form. 

 Here are the steps you need to take now:
  • Click “Manage My Case” to log in to your account.
  • Verify and update your mailing address under “Contact Us.”

OR, you can use the Report Medicaid Change of Address Form to quickly update your address.

Updating your address will ensure that you receive your renewal information on time. After that, watch your mail for your renewal form and complete the form within 30 days. If you don’t remember your login and password, or if you are currently not receiving Medicaid benefits and think you are eligible, call the Healthy CPS Hotline at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or fill out an assistance request form and a coordinator from the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness will be happy to assist you.
Celebrating Assistant Principal Appreciation Week 
CPS will be celebrating Assistant Principal Appreciation Week between Monday, April 10, and Friday, April 14. The District encourages all CPS staff and families to recognize assistant principals who have positively impacted them through this social media toolkit developed in partnership with the Chicago Public Education Fund.
Summer Job Opportunities through One Summer Chicago 
Chicago youth can apply for summer job opportunities through One Summer Chicago now through Friday, June 2.
  • The Summer Youth Employment Program provides employment and internship opportunities for 16 to 24 year-olds, earning $15.40 an hour.
  • The Chicagobility program helps 14- and 15-year-olds explore career pathways, participate in project-based learning and field trips, and earn a $450 stipend for the summer.
To apply for these opportunities, please visit
Complete the District’s Parent Survey
Each year, CPS administers the My Voice, My School Parent Survey to garner feedback from parents about the schools where their children attend as well as the District as a whole. This year’s survey is now open through Sunday, April 30, and takes about five minutes to complete. It is anonymous and available in several languages. To access the survey, please click here.
Review and Provide Feedback on New Draft Accountability Policy
CPS is pleased to announce that we have now posted our District’s new draft accountability policy for review and feedback. This policy provides guidelines for measuring school and District performance that promote equity and academic excellence. From now through April 3, 2023, stakeholders can review the policy and provide feedback here (under the April 2023 tab). Your feedback will be considered when the Chicago Board of Education votes on this policy at its monthly Board meeting next month on April 26. An FAQ on the policy is also available in English and Spanish. Please email if you have any questions.
A CPS girls basketball team celebrating a win
CPS Athletics Highlights and Events
As the winter sports season comes to a close, make sure to check out the latest news on the CPS Athletics website, which is now showcasing and celebrating this winter's student-athletes, programs and champions and previewing what's to come this spring in athletics for grades 5-12. All stories and program information can be found at Have a story to share? Send details to Joey Gelman, Sports Communications Manager, at

We’re also excited to share news related to CPS alumni. Linnae Harper, a CPS alumnus and former WNBA player, is hosting a free, four-day basketball activation that includes basketball clinics, workshops, and discussion panels. This activation is taking place over spring break between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. from April 3-6 at Phillips High School in Bronzeville. To register, please click here.

And we have two alumni competing in the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four! Congratulations to Whitney Young Alum AJ Casey and Orr Academy Alum Cam Lawin on this historic achievement. CPS wishes good luck to our alumni on their road to the National Championship!
Attention CPS 12th-Graders: Apply Now for Teach Chicago Tomorrow!
Teach Chicago Tomorrow (TCT) is a District-run program that supports CPS graduates in earning their bachelor’s degree in education in 45 years. Students start by enrolling in the City Colleges of Chicago’s SEED Scholarship program, then complete their degree at one of our partner universities (Illinois State University, Roosevelt University, or Northeastern Illinois University), or at a four-year college or university of their choice. TCT offers generous financial aid, academic and career support.

CLICK HERE to submit an interest form. Applying takes less than five minutes. For questions, email Art Dennis, Recruitment Specialist for Teach Chicago Tomorrow, at
Chicago Park District summer jobs flyer
Summer Jobs Available Through the Chicago Park District
A variety of employment opportunities are available in the parks this summer to suit all interests, schedules and experience levels. These positions offer competitive wages, opportunities to build life-skills, flexible work schedules, and pathways to careers and full-time employment. Make friends, stay active, have fun, and make a difference by working in the parks!

Positions available for ages 16+ include Lifeguard, Recreation Leader (for Day Camp), and Junior Laborer (park maintenance). Additional positions are available for ages 18+.
Click here to learn more and apply today.
Mark Your Calendars for the Spring Forward Teen Bash on April 8
My Chi. My Future. and the Chicago Park District are hosting a spring break party for Chicago residents, ages 13-24. This event will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, at the Aon Ballroom in Navy Pier and will include musical guests, food, raffles, and information about summer job opportunities. Advance registration is required to take part in this bash. Click here to register and view this flyer for more details.
CPS Sophomores: Explore a Career in Public Safety or Construction
Current CPS sophomores who are interested in working in public safety or construction are encouraged to check out the Chicago Builds and Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy programs. These programs are designed to give students hands-on, work-based coursework and the ability to earn professional certifications and participate in internships.
If you have any questions about these programs, please reach out to CPS Citywide Program Manager Carolyn Rownd Jourdan at
Chicago Red Stars Ticket Discount
In celebration of the upcoming women’s soccer season, the CPS community is invited to purchase discounted tickets for the Chicago Red Stars game on Saturday, April 1 at 1 p.m. against the Houston Dash at SeatGeek Stadium. Let’s cheer on the Chicago Red Stars together!
Nominations Now Open for Crossing Guard of the Year Award 
As part of Crossing Guard Appreciation Month (February 14–March 14), CPS is urging students, staff, parents, and community members to nominate their favorite crossing guards for the District’s Crossing Guard of the Year Award. Submit your nomination by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 10 using this form. Winners will be determined and acknowledged on Monday, May 15.
Reverberate program flyer
Join Us at RE*VER*BER*ATE, a Multidisciplinary Arts Festival: April 27–30, 2023 
The CPS Department of Arts Education invites you to attend RE·VER·BER·ATE, our free, four-day, multidisciplinary arts festival on April 27–30. Produced by CPS students and teachers, this celebratory festival represents the diverse voices and identities of the District’s young artists, which will be on display in gallery exhibitions and live performances.

Additionally, students in grades K–12 can participate in free, 30–60 minute workshops led by industry professionals. Each workshop has limited seating and requires advance registration. Join us for Activist Button Making, Songwriting 101, Afro-Brazilian Martial Arts, Hip-Hop Dance, Improv, an Open-Mic, and much more! Learn more on our website.
Important Dates
For more upcoming events around the District, visit
  • Spring Break: April 3–7. No classes for students.
  • Financial Literacy Workshop: April 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dyett High School.
  • Urban Initiatives Social Emotional Learning Session 1: April 11 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Parker Community Academy. This first session of a two-part series will focus on the impact of COVID-19 and violence on youth.
  • Food Pantry: Every first and third Tuesday of the month from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Michele Clark High School.
  • Urban Initiatives Social Emotional Learning Session 2: April 14 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Parker Community Academy. This second session of a two-part series will focus on building resilience and supporting healing.