Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 23 – May 29, 2020

South Side Golden Apple Award Winner Hopes To Bring More Black Men Into Teaching

By Jamie Nesbitt Golden for Block Club

“…While education had always been the family cornerstone — Stewart’s mother and sister are educators — he briefly entertained the idea of becoming a lawyer, even interning at Chicago law firm Jenner & Block the summer of his junior year. A chance run-in with an old basketball buddy during a field trip to Cook County Jail made Stewart change course. “I asked him what happened. ‘How did you get here?’ He’d only tell me that he didn’t take his education seriously,” Stewart said. “I remember going home later that night and thinking ‘Man, this ain’t right.’ That could’ve been me. My grandmother would tell me that ‘Prevention is the cure.’ That’s what education is.” After graduation, he applied for a teaching position back at Evanston Township, and that’s when he knew his fate had been sealed. He joined a Caribbean academic program as a teaching assistant, and found the perfect mentor in a first-generation Jamaican-American who was married to the woman who ran the program. “Teaching those students was like teaching myself,” Stewart said.”

Wondering How Noble Schools Are Handling Pandemic Learning? Head of School Ellen Metz Tells All

By Maureen Kelleher for Chicago Unheard

“Chicago Unheard recently spoke with Ellen Metz, Head of Schools for the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Metz began her teaching career at Farragut Career Academy in Little Village. After four years at Farragut, she headed to Noble Street College Prep to teach because she was enthralled with Noble’s mission and commitment to results. Metz taught, served as an assistant principal and later became principal of the Noble Street campus. Now, as Head of Schools for the entire network, Metz ensures the Noble Network’s 18 campuses are serving students with excellent experiences that help them reach their academic and personal goals.”

Noble Charter Schools salute spring athletes with special send-off

By Josh Frydman, Rick Tarsitano for WGNTV

“For the nearly 400 senior spring sport athletes across the Noble Network Charter Schools 17 campuses, the unceremonious end to their high school athletic careers meant a lack of closure.  “Initially when things started happening, I was pretty devastated,” said Xavier Mercado, a track and field athlete at Speer Academy. “I had such high expectations to help my team go to State. It would’ve been the fourth year in row of winning the Noble League Championship which was really important to me.” Although their spring seasons were nothing like they had imagined, the athletes’ overall accomplishments would not go unnoticed. Noble League athletics organized virtual spring senior days to salute their students, creating personalized graphics and video messages from coaches.”

Chicago Virtual High School Graduation With Oprah Set For June 14

By Mark Konkol for Patch

“Chicago’s first-ever virtual graduation ceremony will be a star-studded live stream set for June 14 as an alternative to traditional celebrations cancelled due to the coronavirus. “While Chicago’s 2020 graduating class cannot walk across their school’s stage to get thei diplomas, we are asking them to don their caps and gowns on June 14 as the entire city celebrates this unforgettable milestone together,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. Chicago’s “Hamilton” star, Miguel Cervantes, is slated to emcee the ceremony, blues singer Katie Kadan of NBC’s “The Voice” will sing the national anthem, and Oprah Winfrey will deliver a commencement address at the virtual event, city officials said.”

CPS Chief Janice Jackson: ‘We Don’t Yet Know’ What Fall Learning Will Look Like

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“The head of Chicago Public Schools said the district will continue honing its remote learning program over the summer as it prepares for the possibility of additional classroom closures in the fall due to COVID-19. CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the district is looking into a “range of options” because it remains unclear what learning could look like this fall, after the coronavirus pandemic shut down school buildings for the remainder of the current academic year. “We don’t yet know, things are changing every single day, so we continue to monitor that,” said during a pre-recorded interview with “Chicago Tonight” on Thursday. “But we will make sure we have a fully developed plan in place for in-person instruction in the fall, and if we have to do remote learning, if that’s the guidance based on where we are as a country, then we’ll be prepared for that as well.” The current school year will conclude on June 18. Classes are scheduled to resume in the fall on Sept. 8.”

Chicago will extend school into summer for students at risk of failing. But can those students log on?

By Yana Kunichoff  for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Chicago students who received an incomplete in math or English will be required to take summer school this year, but school board members worry they will still face the same barriers that kept them from finishing their classes. Recent figures released by the district showed that in the week of May 11, 15% of students were not in touch with their schools. The reasons are not clear, but a lack of internet access, device sharing with siblings, family tragedy, housing instability, and the stress of the pandemic have all been said to impact student engagement.”

Free CPS meals to continue through the summer — with $29M more to Aramark

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Families who need food for their children will still be able to pick up meals at schools over the summer, Chicago Public Schools officials said Wednesday. The city’s school board, at its monthly meeting held virtually for the third consecutive month, renewed its food services contract with private vendor Aramark for $126 million — $29 million more than previous years to account for an expanded summer program. The district has distributed more than 12.5 million meals at hundreds of schools since in-person instruction ended more than two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the need to keep feeding kids won’t diminish over the summer.”