I’ve been out of the classroom for a while now, but like many of the administrators at CPS – I’m still a teacher at heart.

My first teaching job was at South Shore High School, and I remember thinking that students were going to love my class. I was passionate about History, so imagined my students being inspired by my knowledge and enthusiasm and falling in love with the subject too.

I learned quickly that teaching was not that easy. That my students would have a wide range of abilities, and that no two children would learn things in exactly the same way. I learned that I’d wear many hats in the course of a day – History teacher, yes, but also counselor, confidant, disciplinarian, advocate, and even parent.

Mostly, I learned what all CPS teachers already know – that I would have a tremendous impact, not just on what my students would learn, but on who they would become. And that while this was an incredible privilege, it was an awesome responsibility.

Even after I left the classroom, I tried never to let go of that feeling. As a principal, I worked hard to connect with my teachers, writing them thank you notes to acknowledge the great work they were doing, or to complement their handling of a tough situation.

Today, on Teacher Appreciation Day, I’d like to extend that tradition to include all CPS teachers.

Thank you for educating our children. For making Science and Math relevant to daily life, and for building a school culture that is rooted in literacy and rich in language and the arts.

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Thank you for challenging those students who need enrichment, and finding a way to reach children who are struggling.

Thank you for nurturing the children in your care. For understanding that emotional development goes hand in hand with academics, and for believing that the word “teacher” can be synonymous with words like listener, guide, advocate, cheerleader, and mentor.

Thank you for embracing technology. For creating an innovative curriculum that prepares students for success in a global, 21st Century world.

Thank you for being the force behind our District’s success. For laying the groundwork that has led to record-high attendance, graduation rate, college enrollment, and academic growth – all the things I get to brag about as CPS’ Chief Education Officer.

Thank you for helping your students build confidence and self-esteem. For seeing in them what they cannot yet see in themselves, and for convincing them that no matter what their background, they have the potential to achieve great things.

Thank you for doing your best work under less than ideal circumstances. For not letting our District’s financial issues lessen your enthusiasm or blunt your students’ progress.

You deserve all these accolades and more, not just on Teacher Appreciation Day, but on every day throughout the year. You won’t always get that thanks from your students, but know that as we all do, they’ll look back one day and remember their teachers as passionate, caring adults who had a real and lasting impact on their lives.

I wish you all a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Day.

Sincerely,

Dr. Janice K. Jackson
Chief Education Officer