What started as a kernel of an idea bloomed into a day of the college experience for two Chicago Public School High Schools this spring.
The National Center for Urban Education (NCUE) is a partner in the Teach Chicago Tomorrow (TCT) program in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago. Teach Chicago Tomorrow is an initiative launched in 2020 to bring CPS graduates, specifically CPS alumni of color, who desire to pursue being educators to matriculate through a higher education program and return to CPS as teachers. CPS graduates enroll in City College of Chicago, with Truman College as the anchor campus, for their first two years and transfer to Illinois State University to complete an education degree in either elementary education (bilingual or English as a second language) or special education without leaving the city of Chicago.
Traditionally, Truman College has coordinated the “Truman Experience” for CPS students who are interested in going into cosmetology or receiving an automotive certificate. While planning a trip for interested students at Lane Tech High School, post-secondary coach Erin Driesbach reached out to Jennifer O’Malley at NCUE to see if it was possible to include students who wanted to learn more about Teach Chicago Tomorrow.
A month later, Lane Tech High School brought a busload of students to Truman. Upon arrival, they split up into three groups. While the other students went to learn more about the trade programs, an intimate group of nine students learned more details about the two distinct options for the TCT program (Emerging Educators and Pathways Partnership), financial aid, and how to apply for the program. The day opened up with an intersectionality activity facilitated by SEED Scholars program co-director Josiel Marrufo. This activity allowed the high school students to reflect on their identity as a person in the world, and how they can bring those identities into the classroom to create a safe and welcoming environment for their future students. They also discussed the significance of having teachers who look like them throughout their academic careers, and how they can be part of the TCT program vision. The trip ended with a tour around Truman College to see the collaborative learning spaces.
With the success of the initial trip, the next week Curie Metropolitan High School’s Teacher Academy brought 31 students to Truman for a similar experience. This time, the TCT team added a stop at Truman’s Early Childhood Center to see educators in action with pre-school age children.
Having already expressing their initial interest in education, many of the Lane Tech and Curie students who attended Truman Experience days made their final decision to choose TCT as the perfect college fit.
Both days brought positive feedback from all of the students. One Curie student said it made them want to be a teacher. Many of the students said this trip gave them more clarity on the details of the financial options available as well as the various education majors and program pathways.
Overall, many of the seniors made a decision that day to accept admission into the program, and a few juniors said they would keep this in mind as they apply for college next fall.