May 5, 2023

A Note From CPS Leadership

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

I want to remind everyone in our CPS family that May 8–12 is Teacher Appreciation Week! This is something I look forward to every year, because it’s a chance to let our classroom teachers see that their decision to pursue a career in education means that they are changing lives.

So how do we make our amazing educators feel valued? 

Students — greet your teachers with plenty of smiles next week! And make sure to thank them for everything they’ve done this year to help you learn, and to make sure you feel happy and supported at school.

Parents — let your child’s teachers know the positive impact they’ve had on your children this school year, academically, socially, and emotionally. Whether it’s a card, an email, or a conversation in person, a few words of thanks can go a long way toward helping our teachers truly understand their value. Families can also access this toolkit for ideas on how to make our CPS teachers feel appreciated during Teacher Appreciation Week. 

We look forward to honoring our teachers all next week on our District blog and across our CPS social media channels. Make sure to check out this newsletter next Friday for a recap of those celebrations!

Important Information for Families Receiving Medicaid Benefits
We know that good health is critical to success in the classroom. For many students, this means access to health care benefits through Medicaid, so we want to make sure that all eligible families know how to access or renew their coverage. 

During the public health emergency created by COVID-19, families receiving Medicaid were automatically re-enrolled in the program. But the federal government is ending this emergency declaration this month, meaning that families will again need to renew their Medicaid benefits starting this year. 

The State of Illinois will begin mailing out Medicaid renewal forms this month. 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 will 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.”

You can also use the Report Medicaid Change of Address Form to quickly update your address.

The next step is to watch your mailbox regularly for your renewal form. You can also find this form by selecting “Manage My Case” on Once you receive your renewal form, please fill it out and send it back as soon as possible to ensure that your family does not lose Medicaid coverage.

We take pride in helping to connect our CPS families with important programs, services, and benefits, including reduced-cost health care benefits through Medicaid. So if you need help with this process, call the Healthy CPS Hotline at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or fill out an assistance request form and a staff member from the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness will be happy to assist you.

For more information about Medicaid renewal, please visit Please make sure you renew your coverage if eligible for the health of your children and family.


Pedro Martinez
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

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.

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 Lilly Castro
Take Five with Lilly Castro: School Clerk at McPherson Elementary School
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.
Meet Lilly Castro, or Ms. Lilly, a school clerk at James B. McPherson Elementary School. Ms. Lilly originally entered the McPherson school community as a parent volunteer almost 15 years ago when her son was three years old and in pre-k at McPherson. Over the years, Ms. Lilly went from volunteer to a teacher’s assistant, and then to a special education classroom assistant, before finally moving into her current position as a school clerk in 2018. Born and raised in Chicago, Ms. Lilly’s CPS journey began long before her two children started school. Her mom used to be a pre-k classroom assistant, and Ms. Lilly herself attended Coonley Elementary School as a child.

You are one of the first people that students interact with when they come to school every day. How do you create a welcoming environment for families?
I treat every child the way I want my own children to be treated at school. I always try to go above and beyond, because as a CPS parent myself I understand how much trust it takes to send your children off to school every day and put them in other people’s care. I always pay attention to the details, like making sure kids have school supplies and a place to sit and that their shoes are tied. I also like to create a safe space in the office so students can come in and take a breather if they need one. Whenever we have a new student, I always make sure they know me and know my name so they know they can come to me if they need anything.

Read more of our Q&A with Ms. Lilly here.
A photo of Ms. Fajila Tailor
Staff Spotlights
We can’t let this week go by without highlighting a few more of our amazing clerks. At Volta Elementary School, Ms. Fajila Tailor brings a unique perspective to her role as a Volta graduate. She takes pride in supporting Volta’s families, especially those who do not speak English as their first language. Even during stressful moments, the deep connection she has to the school makes the work worthwhile.

And, at Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, Ms. Veronica Cornejo has been serving the school for 13 years. She sees watching children grow and develop as an honor, especially because she is also a Gunsaulus parent. She also loves being part of academic experiences with students, such as traveling to Vermont to run a farm for a week or traveling to Washington, D.C.
Kindergarteners at Greeley Elementary planting native plants
A Look Around the District
Kindergarteners at Greeley Elementary planted native plants in hopes of growing a “Greeley Native Garden” on school grounds. The school collaborated with parents and North Branch Natives to create a lasting legacy for participating students.

At Onahan Elementary, about 100 students put together an all-school production of Moana Jr. the Musical. And at Sherman Elementary, students participated in a College and Career Fair facilitated by the school and City Year Corps members.

Pickard Elementary eighth graders hosted their IB MYP Community Projects Exhibition, where students showcased their self-designed research projects to families, community members, and peers.

Finally, North Grand High School students in the CTE Culinary Arts program recently volunteered at the Chef’s Table, an event with the Illinois Restaurant Association. Students worked at tasting stations from 25+ restaurants throughout the event and networked with significant industry partners.
Ms. Brown and her students celebrating her Golden Apple Award
CPS Educators Earn National Recognition
It was an exciting week for several CPS educators, including Anquineice Brown, a fourth grade math and science teacher at Marquette Elementary School who received the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Ms. Brown, who describes becoming a classroom teacher as the best decision of her professional life, enjoys bringing lessons to life and creating an opportunity for students to apply the concepts they’re learning in the classroom to their lives outside of school. Her mantra for her fourth graders is to “be themselves and be great.” 

Meanwhile, counselors at six CPS schools were presented this week with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Model Program Award for Excellence in School Counseling. This award recognizes those counseling teams who are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-informed school counseling program and an exemplary environment where students can thrive.

Congratulations to the counselors at the following CPS schools:
  • Alcott Elementary
  • Foreman College and Career Academy
  • Marine Leadership Academy
  • O’Keeffe Elementary
  • Skinner North
  • Prescott Elementary
Students at NASCAR STEAM Fest