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ISU Teacher Pipeline Expands to Auburn Gresham

Until several years ago, the university that produced the largest number of teachers in Illinois sent few of them to Chicago.

That all began to change with the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline, a unique partnership between LISC/Chicago, Illinois State University (ISU), State Farm Insurance, Chicago Public Schools and Enlace Chicago in Little Village, which sends ISU student teachers to Chicago schools.

Illinois State University student-teachers interact with students from Little Village Schools.

Now a new four-year, $11.9 million U.S. Department of Education grant is helping the program expand to another New Communities Program neighborhood, Auburn Gresham.

In Auburn Gresham, the program will roll out initially at three schools – Oglesby Elementary, Westcott Elementary and Simeon High – and later expand to Hirsch High, Bowen High and several other elementary schools. ISU already places student teachers at 17 schools in Little Village.

The Pipeline brings aspiring teachers from ISU in Normal– many of whom are unfamiliar with urban life – to live and work in Little Village and Auburn Gresham for a full school year. As a result, more graduates with specialties in shortage areas like math and special education are exposed to Chicago schools.

Another benefit of the work, as seen in Little Village, is a higher rate of high school graduates from the community choosing college, and ISU, specifically.

ISU chose to expand the program into Auburn Gresham because of the strong connection between Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC) and the schools, said Robert Lee, director of the university’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline.

ISU's Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline program is expanding to Auburn Gresham with funds from a new grant.

“It was an enthusiastic group of not only community-based organizations but folks from the neighborhood, business owners, ministers, the alderwoman (Latasha Thomas, 17th),” he said. “Hearing the passion in their voices – not only about the work they were already doing, but about how the partnership with ISU could bring things to the next level – was exciting for us.”

“It is just a tremendous opportunity,” said Carlos Nelson, executive director of GADC, which is serving as the lead agency for the new partnership with ISU. In addition to drawing quality teacher candidates to the neighborhood, he anticipates regular visits to the ISU campus for kids beginning in elementary school “so that the notion of college and furthering your education becomes normal, common, expected.”

This article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of Working Capital, LISC/Chicago's newsletter. To see the whole issue, please click here.

Posted in Education, Auburn Gresham, Little Village


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