The Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline team is excited to announce that this fall, two recently graduated Illinois State alum will begin their teaching careers at two ISU partner schools within the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district.

Katherine Sampson (BFA ’18) and Alliyah Phillips (BS ’18) will be teaching at North River Elementary in Albany Park and Beidler Elementary in East Garfield Park, respectively.

As stated on their website, CTEP’s mission is grounded in social justice and works to cultivate and sustain innovative, resilient, and effective educators for urban schools and their communities. Both Sampson and Phillips participated in CTEP programs at different points in their educational careers.

The summer of her senior year, Sampson participated in the Summer Teacher Education Partnership for Urban Preparation program (STEP-UP) in Chicago. STEP UP is a four-week summer intensive program wherein students are able to live in partner communities in Chicago, Peoria, or Decatur with a host family, while gaining teaching experience in the public schools of each city’s summer school programs. In addition, the fellows receive training in topics pertaining to urban education through seminars and workshops.

For Sampson, participating in STEP UP was one of the most meaningful experiences in her career as a student. “The most impactful part was being involved with the CBO in Albany Park. I wasn’t really exposed to the idea of bringing ‘community’ into the classroom before and it was really cool to be able to incorporate that into the class daily,” she explains.

Carlos Millan, Coordinator for Educational Partnerships of The Resurrection Project in Pilsen elaborated, “The fellows get to collaborate together to reach the goal of becoming a community-oriented teacher and don’t feel isolated on the journey to get there.” Millan coordinates host families, internships for the fellows, as well as teaching seminars throughout the summer and school year. “They come in thinking that their peers know how to be a community oriented teacher, but not them. They get to explore some of the steps that it takes to get there with STEP UP.”

Once students have committed to student teaching in Chicago, they become part of a student teacher cohort that participates in seminars that are both taught and curated by CTEP staff. Much like STEP UP seminars, the topics vary from “power and privilege”, “centering community voice”, to “neuroscience and the classroom.”

Sampson will be teaching art to kindergarten through eighth grade students. Thompson remembered, “I really was uneasy about elementary going into teaching. But after the student teaching experience, I was all about finding an elementary placement.”  As she prepares for the upcoming year she recalls her belief and hope in the change public education can provide students. “Every student deserves to have an equal chance at a good education. I could be a consistent support and role model. I want to be that person for the students,” Sampson affirmed.

For Phillips, her participation in CTEP’s student teacher seminars were the most meaningful and informative part of her preparation as a teacher. “The co-teaching seminar was really helpful in working with special education teachers. It gave me some great tips and ideas of things to try in the classroom. They provided actual resources that were helpful and useful,” saied Phillips.

Beidler Elementary is a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school located in East Garfield Park, one of five partner neighborhoods that work with CTEP throughout the school year as a host for clinical visits, as well as student teachers.

Phillips’ position at Beidler came about in a very special way. “I student taught at Beidler with Mrs. Williams as my cooperating teacher. All the teachers there put in extra time that they didn’t have to. I’m so happy to be staying with them.” Phillips’ cooperating teacher will be moving to Ohio and she will be taking over her first-grade classroom. She reflects, “It just feels like home.”

Both Sampson and Phillips are excited to start their teaching careers with CPS and hope to continue learning and growing. Sampson exclaims, “I’m excited to get back into the classroom and start building relationships with the students!”