The National Center for Urban Education (NCUE), a unit of the College of Education, serves the Illinois State University community by providing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to deepen their understanding of culturally relevant and restorative practices both in and out of the classroom. We value our partnerships with community-based organizations throughout Chicago who share our educational goals.
Through a collective approach with community partners and schools, NCUE guides preservice teachers into a clearer understanding of the impact that such partnerships can have for teachers and the students and families in their classrooms. Currently, NCUE partners with community-based organizations in the Albany Park, Auburn Gresham, East Garfield Park, and Little Village neighborhoods. We are fortunate to have two outstanding liaisons who have been with us for several years, and it is our good fortune to welcome two new liaisons to the NCUE team.
Albany Park, a community on the northwest side of Chicago, is often described as the most diverse neighborhood in the city, with over 40 languages represented in the neighborhood schools. It is the home to North River Commission, one of our CBO partners, and the workplace for one of our newest liaisons, Madeleine (Maddie) Polovick.
Polovick grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but often came to Chicago to visit. Her university studies focused on social justice and the public education system bringing her to a professional life in Chicago. After working for AmeriCorps and the Illinois State Board of Education, she took her current position as the Education Community Organizer at NRC. She enjoys living and working in Chicago for many reasons but particularly notes that Chicagoans care deeply about each other and have a profound respect and pride for the city. She believes strongly in the community/school relationship.
“Schools and their communities have an incredibly significant symbiotic relationship: neither one can truly succeed without the other supporting it and encouraging it to thrive,” she said. “The connection between schools and communities is the foundation that fortifies the empowerment and trajectory of success–academically, professionally, and of course, personally–for the young people of our society.”
Little Village, a neighborhood known as the “Mexico of the Midwest,” is located on the southwest side of Chicago. Visitors are welcomed to the neighborhood by a terracotta arch on 26th Street that reads “Bienvenidos a Little Village.” Filled with tasty restaurants, locally owned businesses, and vibrant art, La Villita is home to another of our CBO partners, Latinos Progresando that recently welcomed our newest liaison Isamar Valentin.
Valentin is a native Chicagoan, having grown up in the Pilsen neighborhood adjacent to Little Village. Her heart belongs to Chicago, not only because of her family and friends here but also because of its rich culture. With a Spanish language studies major and communication studies minor, Valentin has found her position as education coordinator to be a great fit for her background.
Celebrating the diversity and culture of the city is one reason she loves it here, but she also said that being able to easily get around to the various neighborhoods via public transportation is a big plus.
Valentin believes in the important relationship between schools and communities.
“Community organizations can collaborate with schools by listening to their needs and doing their best to provide resources,” she said.
A self-declared foodie, Valentin encourages everyone to come to Chicago and try the various types of food available.
Welcome to the NCUE family, Maddie and Isamar!