In the Media
Teen ‘Peace Warriors’ fight gun violence in Chicago and beyond: read more
For Peace Warriors activists at North Lawndale school, surviving is No. 1 goal: read more
Groundbreaking Program Achieves Educational Success Through Stabilizing Housing for Homeless Students: read more
Overlooked Carlos Hines set to be breakout senior: read more
NLCP Teacher Highlight: What teachers say parents should ask them: read more
So what got you out of bed this morning?
It is a tough morning, the first day back from a wonderful holiday vacation that seemed to lusciously linger on and on.
It is tough to leave our loved ones after having spent so much quality time with them these last two weeks. (As the son of a faculty member remarked this morning, “Mom, it’s been great to be with you… see you again in May!”)
It is tough to leave afternoon naps, TV binge watching, catching up with friends, reading for pleasure and waking up in the morning knowing that the day is yours!
So this is what got me up.
My job is a chance for me to do good that matters.
This work, although it depletes my energy and devours my time, also deepens my humanity.
It is a chance to disrupt our world’s increasing tolerance for violence in thought, word and deed.
It is a chance to help our kids experience their potential and take the risks necessary to be full grown.
It is a chance for me to love and be loved back by these surprising, garrulous, and abundant adolescents.
It is a chance to counter the terrible causality of generational poverty, kid by kid, family by family.
It is a chance to work with you as we strive to give our kids the great school they deserve and the school we long to be.
It is tough work and we have no illusions about what it will demand of us. But if you, like me, were blessed by the abundance of our friends and family these past 2 weeks, it is time to pay that abundance forward.
Happy New Year!
Did you ever notice how often our prayers and fairy tales end with nearly the same words?
“…, happily ever after,
…, forever and ever,
…, is now, and ever shall be.”
This is no coincidence. Both prayers and fairy tales are a wager on hope. In a downside-up universe where the innocent suffer and justice is delayed and the violent bear things away, prayer and fairy tale endings begin with hope.
Let’s be clear about hope. When most people say “I hope…,” what they really mean is “I wish….,”
I HOPE it isn’t cancer.
I HOPE I get the job.
I HOPE this is really love.
Each of these hopes are actually wishes for a specific ending. The problem with this understanding is that if we don’t get our wish, then hope is a fool’s errand contingent on a very specific ending. Real hope has nothing to do with the fragile outcomes of repeated wishes.
Real hope is the belief that no matter what happens, the process itself will be replete with meaning. Having hope means that, even if it is cancer, then all of the coping, caring, depending, loving and letting go to come, will be abundantly rich. We will see and experience profound truths we otherwise would never have seen. Hope is the belief that, no matter what happens, all will be well.
Hope is the belief that Love will have the final say.
Teachers bet on hope. We believe that all of our efforts will make a difference, even if we will never, ever see those results. Even if all current evidence points in exactly the opposite direction, we have at it, day in and day out, because you never know. Love takes time and it will have the final say.
And, truth be told, being hopeful changes us. Hope activates providence. Hope deepens our humanity. Hope defies the strictures of time and space.
I give thanks because you and all of our kids, past, present and yet to come, have taught me this invaluable truth – that prayers and fairy tales end the same way.
“…, happily ever after,
…, forever and ever,
…, is now and ever shall be.”
November 10, 2016
Chicago, IL—The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is thrilled to announce outstanding individuals who are making a difference in public education and the charter public school movement with the 2016 Illinois Charter Excellence Awards. These honorees include high school seniors and eighth grade students who embody the missions of their charter schools, as well as exceptional teachers, school leaders, and advocates who work tirelessly every day to improve education in schools and communities across Illinois.
A special luncheon award ceremony will be held at the 2016 Illinois Charter Schools Conference on November 10, 2016 to celebrate the honorees amongst their families, friends, colleagues, and peers. This year, Invest for Kids has generously donated $30,000 to recognize the hard work, commitment, and achievements of the Illinois Charter School Principal of the Year, Illinois Charter Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and Illinois Charter High School Teacher of the Year. High school seniors will be awarded $1,000 scholarships for college, while eighth graders will be presented with $500 scholarships for high school. The Illinois Charter School Parent Advocate will be awarded $500 to help continue their efforts to improve education for all children.
“These students exemplify hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to learn; they stop at nothing to be the best that they can be and work to inspire others around them,” said Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. “This would not be possible without committed teachers, school leaders, and advocates, like those awarded today, who have worked tirelessly to create the schools we need now and move student achievement forward. We thank you for exceeding expectations and going above and beyond for our students. You are appreciated, and you are making a difference.”
The following individuals were recognized as the 2016 CHARTER EXCELLENCE AWARD HONOREES:
- Illinois Charter School Champion of the Year: The Honorable André M. Thapedi
- Illinois Charter School Principal of the Year: Melissa Sweazy, UCSN – Esmeralda Santiago
- Illinois Elementary Charter School Teacher of the Year: Jessica A. Jaimes, Erie Elementary Charter School
- Illinois Charter High School Teacher of the Year: Kevin D. Bradley, YouthBuild Mclean County
- Illinois Charter School Parent Advocate: Sonya Moore, University of Chicago Charter School – Donoghue Campus
- Outstanding Illinois Charter School Senior
- Terrance Lee Lindsey, North Lawndale College Prep – Collins Campus
- Anthony Joel Rucker, Chicago International Charter School – Longwood Campus
- Cristal Valencia, Intrinsic Schools
- Stefanie Villalpando, EPIC Academy
- Outstanding Illinois Charter School Eighth Grader
- Carlos Isaac Montalvo, UCSN – Brighton Park Elementary School
- Martha Lopez, Academy for Global Citizenship
“Invest For Kids applauds INCS’ commitment to improving education in our state through the support of public charter schools,” said Barbara Wolf, Director of Charitable Giving at Invest For Kids. “We recognize that student success is directly related to the talents of school principals and faculty and that charter schools provide the environment where excellence in leadership and teaching can thrive. It is with great pleasure that IFK is able to demonstrate our high regard for enterprising academic leaders with well-deserved financial awards.”
This morning I received a request to write a letter of recommendation. One of our NLCP alumnae is applying for a Ph.D program in Special Education. Omg… And she won’t even be the first NLCP alumnae to earn a doctorate. We already have one who has earned her J.D. 1,000 NLCP graduates have gone on to college. 250 have earned their degrees while the other 750 are making slow and steady progress. A bunch of our grads are working on their Masters’ degrees. When I think of the difference they will make in the world all I can say is Omg!
In the daily struggle to give our kids the best school we can, it is easy to forget that we are making a difference. Lots of times we get worn out and wonder if all of our efforts are conspiring to help our kids to and through college. It is the special vocation of those who work with young people from under-resourced communities to have hope in the unseen.
During the rain delay in that fabulous 7th game of the World Series, Jason Heyward gathered his frazzled Cubs team mates and said this:
“I just sensed (the team) needed to hear it from somebody, from somewhere. I don’t know if it was gonna’ come or not, but I just feel like we needed to be reminded how good we are. I needed to love on them a little bit and tell them: ‘Hey, I love everybody in here. You should all look in the mirror and understand you can get it done. I don’t care who it is.”
So on this grey day in early November with all of the hard work that awaits, hoping in the unseen, take a look in the mirror and repeat after Heyward, “We can get it done.”