Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: September 26 – October 2, 2020

From Catalyst Circle Rock to Attorney: How William Wolfe Followed His Dreams

By Elevate Chicago

“William Wolfe was born and raised in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. He’s the youngest sibling in a big family. From just seven-years-old, William knew that he wanted to be a lawyer. He was inspired by legal dramas, like Perry Mason, that he’d watch every day while bonding with his grandfather. He had no doubt that this dream would come true.  He started his education at Circle Rock Preparatory School and attended from kindergarten until 7th grade. In 8th grade, though, his school evolved into Catalyst Charter School’s Circle Rock campus. William and twelve other students made the shift and became the “Golden Thirteen” – members of the very first Catalyst Circle Rock graduating class. William was valedictorian.  His experience at Catalyst Circle Rock and the relationships he made there set a foundation for his career. Many of the teachers from Circle Rock Prep stayed with Catalyst Circle Rock so the students had continuity. It felt like a family. Dr. Natalie Johnson was their primary 8th grade teacher. She pushed them as a class and instilled strong values within them, urging them to get into a great high school and college. All of the teachers didn’t just teach academic subjects; rather, they taught the students how to be kind citizens and community members. Many of the Golden Thirteen complained about the uniforms, with their tucked-in shirts and ties. But William didn’t mind. He has to wear them daily now and is glad that he learned how to get used to it at a young age.”


Internships for Alumni Bring Opportunities to LEARN Graduates

By Elevate Chicago

“Each summer, LEARN Charter School Network runs a unique paid internship program for their alumni. The program serves a variety of purposes. First, the program gives alumni exposure to a variety of career fields and workplaces. It allows them to create connections and social capital to find employment in the future. It provides a safe space for scholars to learn job skills, like resume writing and financial literacy. Finally, it allows scholars to earn money to use toward school. The requirements to become an intern are that scholars are LEARN alumni and that they are in either high school or college.  The way that Greg White, the President and CEO of LEARN, sees it, “Education is a step ultimately toward employment. We operate in some of the most challenged communities with high unemployment where students don’t have internship opportunities. We provide them an education and the additional support they need to build a resume, build contacts, and earn an income while they’re doing it.”


Noble Students Have a Virtual Summer of a Lifetime

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Even though COVID-19 canceled residential college programming this summer, nearly 200 Noble students participated in virtual pre-college programs through Noble’s Summer of a Lifetime program. Since 1999, Noble has provided the Summer of a Lifetime opportunity to more than 7,630 Noble sophomores. Each year, students participate in summer academic enrichment programs at colleges and universities across the nation. In previous years, students would leave their Chicago home to live on campus, some for days, others for weeks, and many for the first time living away from home. “This opportunity has such a meaningful impact on the students, their self-confidence and desire to attend and graduate from college — and as the data shows, to be successful there.” says Jill Kohlberg, Executive Director of the Summer of a Lifetime program, “we were committed to providing students with as much of that experience as possible, so we adapted to a virtual format.”



Written by Crystal Stonewall for CICS

“On my first day as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a professor told me, “teachers impact your life forever; no one can tell where their influence stops.” We engaged in a discussion about our past educational experiences, particularly those where teachers influenced our decisions to pursue a bachelor’s degree and I reflected on my CICS Wrightwood elementary school experiences when he was talking to me. CICS Wrightwood is a school I will never forget. The experiences there made me who I am today! I was the school’s third valedictorian. I was involved in many curricular and extracurricular experiences including school band, cheerleading team, a science fair finalist and a Young Author finalist. These activities helped to instill my motivation, competitiveness and vision as a young person. People say teachers contribute to a student’s academic drive. For me, it was my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Gordon. He once shared a personal anecdote on resilience that has stayed with me. I never imagined that I would meet a lawyer with a background in education. I always thought teachers were solely focused on a one career track-education. His academic journey, along with my family’s guidance, influenced me to pursue a degree in Elementary Education and also seek a law degree. Fast-forward nine years later, I find myself following his same career path, an education major pursuing a law career.”


Will CPS kids go back to schools this fall? Lightfoot says ‘we’re not there yet’

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Public health conditions have not yet improved to a point that would allow Chicago Public Schools students to return to classrooms in November as officials have hoped, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday. Despite the challenges remote learning poses for 300,000 students and 30,000 teachers and support staff, Lightfoot and CPS officials have said health will be the main priority in a decision to resume in-person learning. “We have to see more progress in order for us, I think, to have a conversation about in-person learning,” the mayor said at an afternoon news conference at which she announced an easing of restrictions on indoor seating at bars and restaurants. “We’re not there yet.” “I don’t want to speculate about the chances. It’s something we are focused on every single day, and we’ll make an announcement relatively soon because we’ve got to give parents and the school community enough time to adapt if we’re going to make a change. But we’re not there yet.”


Lightfoot On Reopening CPS: We’re ‘Following Very Closely’ The Experience Of Catholic Schools

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Among the factors Chicago Public Schools is weighing when deciding whether to reopen school buildings: the experience of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s 150-plus campuses, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday. The mayor, who oversees public schools in Chicago and appoints the schools chief and board, is expected to make the final call about reopening campuses along with city health officials. Chicago started the school year virtually three weeks ago after initially planning to begin the year with a hybrid schedule.  Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Chicago, which is the state’s largest private school operator with 70,000 students last spring, reopened its campuses in late August. Schools are offering full-day instruction — some larger campuses have hybrid schedules where students go a few days a week — and families have the option of choosing all-virtual instruction.”


Anger, paralysis, and heavy hearts: Students and educators grapple with Breonna Taylor decision

By Chalkbeat Staff 

“Once again, a justice system declined to bring charges against police officers in the killing of a Black American. Once again, demonstrators took to the streets to protest. Once again, a sense of hopelessness hung over communities. And once again, as one Tennessee educator told us on Thursday, school staff must still “get up and teach and act as if none of yesterday happened.” Throughout this tumultuous year, Chalkbeat has sought to lift up the voices of students and educators as the nation has reckoned with police violence, justice, and racism in America. We have turned our website over to students, asked teachers how they’ve facilitated tough conversations and supported their students experiencing trauma, and documented how this moment has led to meaningful change about what and how students are taught.”