A Note from CPS Leadership

Dear CPS Families, we are fond of saying that the best is with CPS. That was certainly evident this week, when the announcement was made that nearly half of this year’s finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching are teachers in CPS schools.   Despite the immense challenges of the past two years, these 13 high school educators have continued going above and beyond for their students, colleagues, and school communities. By sharing the passions, they have for Art, Music, Science, and the Humanities, these teachers are planting seeds of inspiration in their students and encouraging them to seek out the path that will bring them joy and success throughout their lives.  

Golden Apple winners will be announced later this spring. In the meantime, watch for profiles of these CPS finalists to be shared across our District’s social media channels in the coming weeks: Anne Boyle, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School Cristen Chapman, John Hancock College Prep Robert Davis, George Westinghouse College Prep William Ejzak, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Alan Hennagir, Northside College Prep Amy Jesionowski, Senn High School Andrew Jones, Air Force Academy High School Anna Lane, Kelly College Prep Laurel Kulig, CICS Northtown Academy 
Annette Olszewski, Kennedy High School Sharon Ponder-Ballard, Englewood STEM High School Puja Ramaswamy, Lake View High School Jennifer Trejo, Taft High School Tracking our Numbers with Optimism By continuing to follow the science, and by doing what we know has kept our staff and students safe, we are seeing our COVID-19 case numbers return to where they were before the Omicron surge. Our hope is that by keeping proven protocols in place for now, including the use of masks in school, we will move closer to putting this pandemic behind us once and for all.  You may recall that on February 4, a downstate court issued a legal decision regarding Governor Pritzker’s requirements for COVID-19 safety measures in schools. This decision was immediately appealed by the Illinois Attorney General, and we received the results of that appeal late last night. 

The appellate court has confirmed that CPS has the authority to enforce key COVID-19 safety measures, including the required use of masks by all students and staff while they are at school.
We are gratified by the court’s decision, as universal masking and other proven safety measures are what have allowed us to provide our students with the in-person learning environment they need throughout this school year. We will continue to follow these proven protocols until such time as our public health partners advise us that restrictions can be safely lifted.

We are encouraged to see COVID-19 cases dropping, and we remain optimistic about what this will mean for our school communities in the future. For now, though, our top priority must continue to be safety and stability for CPS students, staff, and families. Sincerely, Pedro Martinez Chief Executive Officer Chicago Public Schools Around the District Teach Chicago Tomorrows CPS graduates can make an extraordinary impact on our schools, our communities, and our students as future CPS teachers. Teach Chicago Tomorrow helps students plan their path from student to teacher and connects them with programs and financial resources to help them achieve their dream. The goal of the program is to make the cost of earning a degree free for students in the program. Interested students can get more information and apply to the program hereCPS 12th Graders: Submit Your Artwork for Art on the MART Consideration by March 3In partnership with CPS All-City Visual Arts (ACVA), Art on the MART will highlight selected CPS seniors’ artwork from across the city in an upcoming collaborative exhibition. All artwork submitted by 12th grade CPS students to the 2021–22 ACVA High School Exhibition by March 3, 2022, will be considered for inclusion in the Art on the MART exhibition. See selection criteria here and content guidelines here

Please read the 2021–22 Submission Guidelines before submitting artwork. The guidelines contain a direct link to the exhibition submission form. Students can also reach out to allcityarts@cps.edu with any questions. 

LSC Election Materials Available One of the best ways for students, parents and community members to get involved in our schools is to run for a seat on their Local School Council (LSC). LSC elections will be held on April 20, 2022 (elementary school) and April 21, 2022 (high school). Find out everything you need to know about becoming an LSC candidate, participating as a voter, or serving as a paid judge by visiting the Office of Local School Council Elections website. Election paperwork can also be picked up at the CPS school where a candidate plans to run.
Important Information on 2021 Tax Credits Have questions about 2021 tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit or Recovery Rebate Credit? Whether you are filing a tax return or not, these credits can increase your tax refund. Click here for more information on who qualifies for each of these credits and how you can receive them.

College Scholarship Opportunity for Students Pursuing STEM Degrees CPS members of the Class of 2022 have until March 28 to apply for a college scholarship through the ComEd Future of Energy program. Scholarships of up to $10,000 are available for students who have been accepted into an eligible four-year college degree program and have at least a 2.8 GPA. Priority consideration will be given to students of color and female students. Interested students can apply here.
Congratulating Our High School Basketball ChampionsTwo of our high schools have a lot to be proud of as our new basketball city champions. Kenwood Academy won the sophomore city championships for both boys and girls basketball, and Whitney Young Magnet High School won both the boys and girls varsity city championships. Congratulations to all four teams on their accomplishments!

Reflecting on Black History Month Across the District, many of our Black educators are using the month of February as a time to recognize their own accomplishments and those of their Black colleagues. At Avalon Park Elementary School, middle school language arts teacher Ms. Kimiko Cowley-Pettis is using her own journey as a lifelong learner to inspire her students to transform their ideas into action to make the world a better place. She believes that Black educators deserve to be recognized for their steadfast commitment to helping students stay on track. 

Ms. Clarinda Harris has served students at Monroe Elementary for nearly 25 years, and she celebrates Black History Month in her classroom from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday all the way through the end of February. She focuses on teaching students about the Black heroes of the past to motivate them to embody many similar qualities: looking at challenges with a growth mindset, trying again when they fail, and developing a strong sense of self.

Una nota del liderazgo de CPS
Estimadas familias de CPS:
Nos complace poder decir que los mejores están con CPS. Fue ciertamente evidente esta semana, cuando se hizo el anuncio de que casi la mitad de los finalistas de este año para los prestigiosos Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching son maestros en escuelas de CPS. 
A pesar de los grandes desafíos en los últimos dos años, estos 13 educadores de Escuela Secundaria han dado la milla extra con sus estudiantes, colegas y comunidades escolares. Al compartir las pasiones que tienen por el Arte, la Música, la Ciencia y las Humanidades, estos maestros están plantando semillas de inspiración en sus estudiantes y exhortándoles a buscar el camino que les brinde alegría y éxito a lo largo de sus vidas.
Los ganadores de ‘Golden Apple’ se anunciarán a finales de esta primavera. Mientras tanto, esté atento a los perfiles de estos finalistas de CPS que se publicarán en las redes sociales de nuestro Distrito en las próximas semanas:
Anne Boyle, Escuela Secundaria Whitney M. Young Magnet
Cristen Chapman, John Hancock College Prep
Robert Davis, George Westinghouse College Prep
William Ejzak, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep
Alan Hennagir, Northside College Prep
Amy Jesionowski,  Escuela Secundaria Senn
Andrew Jones, Escuela Secundaria de la Academia de la Fuerza Aérea
Anna Lane, Kelly College Prep
Laurel Kulig, Academia CICS Northtown
Annette Olszewski, Escuela Secundaria Kennedy
Sharon Ponder-Ballard, Escuela Secundaria STEM de Englewood
Puja Ramaswamy, Escuela Secundaria Lake View
Jennifer Trejo, Escuela Secundaria Taft
Seguimiento a nuestros números con optimismo
Al seguir la ciencia y poner en práctica lo que sabemos que ha mantenido a nuestro personal y estudiantes seguros, estamos viendo que nuestros números de casos de COVID-19 regresan a donde estaban antes del aumento de la variante Ómicron. Nuestra esperanza es que, al mantener protocolos efectivos por ahora, incluido el uso de mascarillas en la escuela, dejemos atrás esta pandemia de una vez por todas.

Como podrá recordar, el 4 de febrero un tribunal del centro del Estado emitió una decisión legal con respecto a los requisitos del gobernador Pritzker para las medidas de seguridad contra el COVID-19 en las escuelas. Esta decisión fue apelada inmediatamente por el Fiscal General de Illinois y hoy, recibimos los resultados de dicha apelación.

En la noche de ayer, el tribunal de apelaciones confirmó que CPS tiene la autoridad para hacer cumplir las medidas de seguridad contra el COVID-19, incluido el uso obligatorio de mascarillas por parte de tanto de los estudiantes como del personal mientras están en la escuela.

Nos complace la decisión del tribunal, ya que el uso de mascarillas y otras medidas de seguridad comprobadas, son las que nos han permitido brindar a nuestros estudiantes el ambiente de aprendizaje presencial que necesitan durante todo este año escolar. Continuaremos siguiendo estos protocolos oficiales hasta el momento en que nuestros socios de Salud Pública aconsejen que las restricciones se pueden modificar y/o cambiar de manera segura.

Nos alienta ver que los casos de COVID-19 disminuyan y seguimos optimistas ante lo que esto significará para nuestras comunidades escolares en el futuro. Por ahora, sin embargo, nuestra principal prioridad debe seguir siendo la seguridad y estabilidad de los estudiantes, el personal y las familias de CPS.


I have functioned as a Business and Media Consultant over the past sixteen years and spent many years developing my capacity to function in our ever evolving use of technology, communication, education and training.