Meet John Nieciak, a CPS teacher for nearly 30 years. Mr. Nieciak believes in knocking down the “fourth wall” of the classroom and putting Chicago’s vast resources to work for his students. Among the 8th-graders at Nettelhorst Elementary, he is known as a teacher who “actually cares”, not just about what students are learning, but about how they feel.

His students say that Mr. Nieciak welcomes multiple perspectives, encourages them to draw their own conclusions, and helps them learn from their mistakes. He prepares his students for the real world by acknowledging that they are already in it, and by teaching them that they have a voice and a perspective that matters.