Kicking Off a New School Year with Noble

It’s August. Everywhere you look, there are signs that a change is coming – shorter days, neon sale signs for pencils and notebooks, and fresh backpacks in store windows. We all know what that means – it’s back to school time.

While most schools in Chicago are preparing for their students to return in September, many of Chicago’s charter public school students return in August. Charter public school teachers have already started teaching or are eagerly preparing for their students to arrive soon. They’ve been crafting colorful instructive posters, collaborating with their colleagues, and designing meaningful and rigorous lesson plans. They are ready.

The Noble Network of Charter Schools is about to embark on its 20th year.  They celebrated the beginning of their second decade with an all-staff kickoff on Wednesday, August 15th, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. They’ve done kickoff events in the past, but this one was special, as it focused on where Noble came from and where they plan on going in the future.

To start, presenters went all the way back to the beginning, to Noble’s very first year, when there was just one class at one campus. Brenda Cora was a member of that class. The love and high expectations that Noble gave her changed her life and her family’s. It inspired her to return to Noble as principal of Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy.

Also reliving her first year at Noble was Co-Founder and Dean of Operations at Noble Street College Prep Tonya Hernandez Milkie. As a teacher within CPS, she dreamt of opening a school that was run by teachers, where they had the freedom to use their expertise to give students truly excellent educational opportunities. Now that Noble has grown to seventeen high school campuses and one middle school campus, she noted the secret sauce to what makes Noble so special, “We’re successful because at Noble we are united in purpose.”

Noble teachers then heard from the new Head of Schools, Ellen Metz, who introduced Noble’s revamped mission to unite Noble educators moving into the future:

Noble is a catalyst for education equity in Chicago that empowers students with the scholarship, discipline and honor necessary to succeed in college and lead exemplary lives.

Ellen was followed by CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson, who noted the importance of charter public schools and traditional public schools working together as one school system, and CEO and Superintendent Michael Milkie, who talked about Noble’s role in standing up for educational equity and social justice. Founding UIC College Prep Principal, Oliver Sicat, returned to show how his time at Noble inspired him to open his own charter schools in his home state of California, the Ednovate Schools.

To wrap it up, Noble alum and now Case Manager, Dalonte Burns, addressed the group, “The impact that we signed up to have on the students will live beyond our lifetime.” Upon leaving the theatre last Wednesday, it’s clear that through the love and high expectations of each teacher, their impact will truly live on beyond their time at Noble.