Cuffe AP Reflects on 15 Years of School Leadership
SCHOOLS | April 6, 2022
Cuffe AP Reflects on 15 Years of School Leadership

Mr. Marcus Ware, the assistant principal at Cuffe STEM Academy in Auburn Gresham, recalls a conversation he had with a former Cuffe teacher. This teacher had worked on Chicago’s West Side, the same part of the city where AP Ware grew up. When he learned about AP Ware’s background, the first thing he did was congratulate him on being a “success.” 

At first, AP Ware wondered what he meant by that. But, after thinking about it more, it dawned on him that being able to navigate into a successful career is not always easy. This conversation directly connects to what AP Ware calls his “why” for being a school leader. 

“My ‘why’ is to help students who grow up in surroundings that many people might not deem the most desirable make it to a place where they can be successful and comfortable,” he said. “I try to share as much as I can about myself with my students in the hopes that they will see a connection and know that I am always willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed.” 

After graduating from Chicago Public Schools, AP Ware earned a degree in math. He worked as a CPS high school math teacher for six years before joining Cuffe as an assistant principal about 15 years ago. He explains that the school’s tight-knit culture is what keeps him coming back year after year. 

“This school is family to me, and my job doesn’t feel like work most days,” he said. “I love being around the kids. They give me energy. I never imagined being a teacher or administrator, but I’ve discovered that my passion is for helping people. And I definitely have the opportunity to do that here.”

As his school tries to get back on track from several disrupted school years, AP Ware knows that providing targeted support to students is more crucial now than ever before. He says that the pandemic shaped his perspective on the importance of creating learning environments that engage all students. With the school year more than halfway over, he is fully committed to helping his students prepare for the future, especially Cuffe’s eighth-grade students. 

His background in math has led him to teach his school’s algebra class, just one of the ways Cuffe is preparing its soon-to-be graduates for high school and beyond. 

“One of my favorite memories in my 15 years at Cuffe involves my algebra class,” he said. “I had 13 students that year and all 13 of them passed the algebra exit exam. The fact that all of them were able to start high school with algebra credit was just great.” 

Being extremely involved and invested in his students’ transition into high school has helped AP Ware see that being a school leader is more than a career. He views it as an ongoing partnership that can last many, many years. He encourages former students to continue to use him as a resource as they pursue postsecondary opportunities and careers of their own. 

With 15 years of school leadership under his belt, he feels that the time is now for him to lead a school as a principal. He knows that the experiences that have defined his time at Cuffe will act as a strong foundation for him to positively impact a new school community. 

“I’ve stuck with school leadership because, even though you may not always get recognized, the kids see your efforts and so do the teachers,” he said. “I’m open when it comes to being a principal. I don’t have a targeted place in mind. I just want the opportunity.” 

Happy Assistant Principal Appreciation Week! Celebrate your favorite AP throughout the week using this toolkit.