Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 17 – October 23, 2020

The Catalyst ROCKITS Bring Technology to All

By Elevate Chicago

“Imran Shamim is the Director of Information Technology at Catalyst Charter Schools. His life experiences have shown him the profound power of technology, the way that it can impact communication and, at its deepest level, the way that people feel seen and heard. Imran is originally from Pakistan. He moved to Chicago in 1999, where he went to school and started to work. As an immigrant, Imran faced many challenges in his new home country, including stereotypes in which people made assumptions about the type of person he was solely based on where he was from. But it was because of these challenges that he came to believe that the only way to change someone’s mind was to show them who he was, day after day. Imran eventually started looking for work at nonprofits – a space where the organization had a mission, vision, and values that aligned with his own. A friend introduced him to San Miguel Schools, which gave birth to The Catalyst Schools in 2006.  He went from being the HelpDesk Manager to the Director of IT in that time. In 2016, he started to teach a radio class, with the intent of giving students a chance to speak their voice on the radio. He created a space for dialogue. To this day, the students love working with the multimedia and find the dialogue to be super rewarding.”


Noble Q1 Collaboration Day All Staff Meeting Recap: October 2020

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Each quarter,  Noble staff participates in two days of reflection and professional development (PD) as a network and at each campus. These days are critical for Noble teachers, administrators, and staff to review the progress of their students, reflect on wins and losses, collaborate with colleagues on best practices, and plan for the upcoming quarter. Each quarterly PD opens with an all-Noble staff gathering. Historically, staff would file into one of Noble’s campus gymnasiums with excitement and camaraderie; this year was a virtual gathering. To open the all-staff session, CEO Constance Jones provided an update on Noble’s antiracist efforts. “After kick-off, our leadership team landed on our rally cry for the year. This is the thing we are charged with taking up every morning and thinking about. This is the thing we are checking in on each week in our leadership meetings. That rally cry is to, ‘Dismantle racism at Noble”,  she stated.”


Us Kids: New Documentary Chronicles Voices of Youth Activists Following Parkland Massacre

By Jeff Truesdell for People

“The mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day 2018 launched a youth movement long in the making to push for solutions to gun violence. Us Kids, a documentary available for free YouTube viewing Saturday and Sunday after a virtual “Vote With Us” rally, reveals what happened next. The film was directed by Kim A. Snyder, whose 2016 film, Newtown, followed grieving parents after a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Her new film follows a movement that started with student survivors of the Parkland shooting — and came to include a wide coalition of young people across the world. That coalition staged the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. just five weeks after the Parkland massacre, then launched a cross-country caravan to engage local communities in an effort to change gun laws. Alex King, of Chicago, was 7 years old when two men shot his uncle to death. King was an uncle himself when his nephew was shot dead. At age 17 and a student at Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep, he joined those who spoke from the podium in Washington, D.C.”



By Chicago International Charter School

“Great Leaders at Great Schools. This month, in honor of National Principals Month, we will be highlighting a few of the incredible men and women who are leading our schools. Derrick Orr, Principal at CICS Wrightwood, works to bring out the best in his teachers, giving them quality feedback, pushing them to be change-makers and helping them to grow as leaders. He is proud that the teachers are a part of the decision-making process at Wrightwood and stresses the importance of communicating and working together. “Excellence Can’t Wait” are words that every staff member at Wrightwood believes as they push towards excellence for their students in everything they do.  His vision for this school year is to continue to push high-level programs and academic practice while closing the education gaps that come from remote learning. He believes that Wrightwood can be a place where students, parents and families support one another and coexist as a community!”


CPS Announces Plan for Second Quarter, With Aim to Bring Some Students Back in Schools

By CBS Chicago

“Chicago Public Schools on Friday announced its plan for the second quarter of the school year as the coronavirus pandemic continues, with all students beginning with remote learning as the district says it aims to bring back some in a phased reopening. CPS said in a statement that it plans to begin its phased reopening with the “most vulnerable students in pre-k and intensive and moderate cluster programs who encounter significant challenges participating in remote learning without the support of a guardian, which further exacerbates inequities.” The students returning to classrooms would be brought back as early as January, with time needed to prepare the “significant new operational processes needed to open schools,” CPS said. The district plans to reach out to parents of students in other grades later this year to gauge their interest in their students returning to the classroom.”


Just as schools begin to reopen, many are closing again as COVID-19 surges: ‘It’s almost an impossible situation’

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Public Schools officials announced Friday that they plan to start bringing some of the most vulnerable students, including those in special education programs, back into the classroom sometime before the end of the calendar year — a proposal that was quickly slammed by the Chicago Teachers Union as “reckless” given the soaring COVID rates in the region. Yet according to one recent study conducted by researchers at Yale University, child care centers that remained open during the early days of the pandemic did not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. The study, which surveyed 57,000 child care providers across the U.S., found that exposure to child care was not associated with an elevated risk of spreading COVID-19 from children to adults. That was the case when the child care programs followed safety measures — including disinfecting, hand-washing, symptom screening, social distancing, wearing masks and limiting group size — and were located in communities where the spread of COVID-19 was contained, according to the Yale website. Still, the turmoil and ever-changing instructional models in the wake of the pandemic has added up to make 2020 “likely the most trying time any educator has had to face in their entire career,” Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association said Friday.”