Robert 2016

Robert Lee

I am pleased to welcome our students, faculty, staff, teachers, and community partners back for the spring 2016 semester and kick off the new year with the relaunch of our newsletter, Perspectives from the Front Line, which has been on hiatus since June 2015. After talking to our in-house contributors, we have decided to change our publication schedule to a quarterly newsletter, instead of a monthly one. However, we will still feature a story focused on each of our three pillars: university, school, and community. We also welcome any leads to cover your story ideas in the field and want to encourage you to contribute your voice and perspective for publication. Please submit all ideas, inquiries, and submissions to

I also wanted to take time to highlight a few major accomplishments, milestones, and celebrations in each of our three pillars:


Jennifer O'Malley

Jennifer O’Malley

Please help me congratulate Jennifer O’Malley for her dedicated work to Illinois State over the past 10 years. After I started in 2004, O’Malley was the first person I hired to work with me in the development of the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline in our College of Education. Now, as senior program manager, she continues to play an instrumental role in managing major programs and partnerships that involve the training of Illinois State preservice teacher candidates across all five teacher producing colleges, implementing programs to enhance the teaching of professionals who work in the urban schools we partner, spearheading our work with university faculty as they plan and implement redesigned courses with embedded clinical experiences each semester, and playing a key role to help our graduates secure positions in Chicago Public Schools upon graduation.

Beyond a staff member, O’Malley is my “thought-partner” and has consistently helped me to develop and implement programs and meaningful polices that span multiple institutional boundaries. And I am not the only one who thinks this. This year, O’Malley will be recognized at Illinois State’s Founders Day on February 18 as recipient of the university’s highest honor to a nonfaculty member: the A/P Distinguished Service Award. Please join me in congratulating O’Malley for this milestone in her career and for this most prestigious honor.


After launching INFUSE (Innovative Network of Future Urban Special Educators), our enrollment capacity has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Preservice special education teachers are arriving to Chicago evermore engaged and preparing to teach in our highest need urban schools. Of the 10 graduates in December, 90 percent have accepted teaching positions in Chicago Public Schools, including five who accepted offers in our partner schools. This is a huge boon for us all!

In addition to our special education teachers, two high-need art teachers and one elementary teacher have accepted positions in our partner communities (Little Village and Albany Park) with several others in the process of interviewing. I would like to congratulate all of our alums as they start their professional careers and look forward to continued engagement as they enter our Induction and Mentoring Program.

Also, please take a moment to read about a creative mentorship program between partner schools Simeon High School and Cook Elementary in Auburn Gresham called the Revolution of Young Artists as Leaders (ROYAL), whose second annual event was recently held at Cook Elementary School. Congratulations to all of our artists and leaders!


In a new partnership with The Resurrection Project in Pilsen, Illinois State students now student teaching in Chicago are afforded an opportunity to live in La Casa, a dormitory-style center that features modern loft-style living with new appliances, shared living spaces with flat-screen TVs, and free perks such as WiFi and an on-site fitness center. Illinois State students have found the Pilsen community warm, engaging, and vibrant as the nearby streets are bustling with local restaurants, shops, coffee houses, live music venues, art galleries, schools, and the CTA Pink Line a block away to take them anywhere in the city.

I want to thank everyone who is engaged in our work to cultivate and sustain innovative, resilient, and effective educators for our urban schools and communities. We would not be able to maintain these levels of success without your dedication and insistence to create stronger learning opportunities across our P–16 spectrum.


Dr. Robert Lee
Executive Director