Top Chicago principals receive fellowships to hone leadership skills, boost school improvement plans

Three dozen top Chicago principals have been accepted into leadership fellowships aimed at helping them drive sustainable improvements at their schools.

Recipients of the Cahn Fellows Program and the Chicago Principals Program were announced Thursday by the Chicago Public Schools, its non-profit partner the Chicago Public Education Fund, and the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“The success of our Chicago Public Schools can be attributed to the strong and ambitious leadership at the helm of the schools,” Lightfoot wrote in a statement. “My administration is committed to ensuring every principal has access to the resources they need and the support they deserve to help students thrive, regardless of the ZIP code or background.”

Fund Chief Executive Officer Heather Y. Anichini said that in the last few years, the fellowships have focused more on grooming principals to make sustainable improvements at their schools, with the acknowledgement that turnover can be high and many principals have plans to move up the ranks in Chicago or another district.

“The reality of the principal job is very different than it was six years ago when we were starting to put this together,” she said. “In 2019, nobody stays in any job forever, and as we think about the momentum these principals have made in their schools, it’s important to help them do the hard work of making those changes sustainable even after they transfer out.”

The Cahn Fellows Program, hosted by Columbia University’s Teachers College, accepted eight Chicago principals. The national fellowship admits principals from Chicago, Denver, New York, Newark and other cities. Each fellow picks an assistant principal or teacher leader as an “ally” to attend a two-week leadership institute in the summer and ongoing study groups among faculty. The goal is to develop a school-based improvement project.

The Cahn fellows from Chicago include:

  • Antonio Acevedo, John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School
  • Wayne Bevis, Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School
  • Georgia Davos-Vetas, Newton Bateman Elementary School
  • Carolyn Jones, Perkins Bass Elementary School
  • Fernando Kim, Frank W. Gunsaulus Elementary Scholastic Academy
  • Terrycita Perry, Arthur Dixon Elementary School
  • Marilou Rebolledo, Andrew Jackson Elementary Language Academy
  • Kelly Thigpen, Burnside Elementary Scholastic Academy

There were 28 recipients of the Chicago Principals Fellowship, a partnership between the district, the fund, and Northwestern University. They will attend classes at the Center for Nonprofit Management at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, receive leadership evaluations, and convene once a month with school chief Janice Jackson to craft district policies.

The Chicago Principal Fellowship winners include:

  • Zaneta Abdul-Ahad, Lionel Hampton Fine & Performing Arts Elementary School
  • Chad Adams-Thomas, Roger C. Sullivan High School
  • Jon M. Bennett, LEARN 7 Elementary School
  • Alice Buzanis, Jesse Sherwood Elementary School
  • Sherly Chavarria, William P. Nixon Elementary School
  • Fatima Cooke, Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy
  • Holly Dacres, Wilma Rudolph Elementary Learning Center
  • Tanya L. Fields, Joshua D. Kershaw Elementary School
  • Chris Gamble, Hannah G. Solomon Elementary School
  • Sabrina Gates, Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School
  • Marin Gonzalez, Gerald Delgado Kanoon Elementary Magnet School
  • Althea M. Hammond, Ambrose Plamondon Elementary School
  • Allison Hansen,  Acero Charter Schools, Officer Donald J. Marquez
  • Leonard Harris, Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative High School
  • Michael Herring, Friedrich L. Jahn Elementary of the Fine Arts
  • William Hook, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
  • Victor Iturralde, Eric Solorio Academy High School
  • Matthew Katz, Acero Charter Schools, Rufino Tamayo
  • Valencia Koker, Dewey School of Excellence
  • Seth Lavin, Lorenz Brentano Math & Science Academy Elementary School
  • Ruth Martini-Walsh, Jane Addams Elementary School
  • Emily Mason, Noble – Muchin College Prep
  • Cory Overstreet, Kate S. Kellogg Elementary School
  • Terea Peoples, Emmett Louis Till Math and Science Academy
  • Diana Racasi, Pulaski International School of Chicago
  • Charles Smith, Infinity Math Science and Technology High School
  • Maureen Wood, Portage Park Elementary School
  • Nicole White, Henry O. Tanner Elementary School