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You want to be a teacher? AND you want to teach in Chicago? Why?

If you are a pre-service teacher from the suburbs, chances are you’ve been asked all three of these questions. By these questions you may have felt belittled, like a savior, or considerably annoyed. Family and friends alike are concerned for your safety, veteran teachers question your true intentions, and peers may not be as confident in your future success. It’s tough – I know. But remembering your answer to question #3 can and will be your saving grace. You are here with and for a purpose. Let your passion for change drive you towards a more holistic approach to both learning and teaching.

Having said that, you, dear reader, deserve some sort of context and explanation for this article. If you are not a pre-service teacher, chances are you have no idea what I’m talking about or where this is going.

I’ll start by saying this, being fully immersed in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood has been an experience I will remember forever. There is a strong sense of community here that is topped off with the hustle and bustle of city life. Every Monday-Thursday morning I have spent teaching and engaging with some of the brightest, hard-working, and resilient students I have ever encountered. The men and women I work with at the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) are unmatched in kindness and knowledge. My host-mom has a heart of gold.  I have grown and matured, and have been challenged in so many ways since being here. Being that I am studying to become a high school English teacher, working with 2nd and 3rd graders at the AG Gold Mini-Camp forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn from students that are hardly a third of my age.  

For the past 4 weeks I have been teaching literacy at the AG Gold Camp, working as an education intern at the GAGDC, and taking professional development classes.  The Summer Teacher Education Partnership for Urban Preparation (STEP-UP) is rigorous according to its website, and there is no mistruth here; the program is rigorous. But in every way it is worth it. See, between each day of work I have been able to explore not only Auburn Gresham, but I have spent time downtown, in Little Village, Albany Park, as well as East Garfield Park. I have seen concerts in Millennium Park, seen documentaries on the history of a certain neighborhood, and I have been exposed to pertinent social justice issues I would have no knowledge of by being a suburbanite.

I chose to become a teacher because as a student I felt unprepared in so many ways. I chose to become a teacher because I never want my students to feel unprepared in any way. I chose Chicago because it is a great city with so much to offer. I chose Chicago because the students here have the drive, the reasoning, the resources, the talent, and the potential that will expose them to their own success.

Chicago chose me because I willingly believe, accept, and support the reasoning, resources, talent, and potential that will expose its’ students to success.

Keywords: Chicago Public High Schools, CPS, education, Illinois State University, Illinois State University Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships, ISU

Posted in Education, Auburn Gresham in the News, Community Highlights


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