Incoming freshmen in the Teach Chicago Tomorrow (TCT) Illinois State University Pathway Partnership program participated in a four-day summer immersion with the National Center for Urban Education (NCUE) in July. Prior to starting their first year at Truman College, the students came together in each of NCUE’s four partner communities across Chicago.

NCUE is a partner in Teach Chicago Tomorrow in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), an initiative launched in 2020 to support CPS graduates who want to be teachers, particularly CPS alumni of color. CPS graduates enroll in City College of Chicago, specifically Truman College, for their first two years and transfer to Illinois State University to complete an education degree in elementary education (bilingual or English as a second language), special education, or early childhood education without leaving the city of Chicago.

Koi pond at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
TCT students find the Koi pond as they test out various scavenger hunts at Garfield Park Conservatory used by teachers when they visit with kindergarten through eighth grade children.

From July 5 to July 8, incoming students visited the NCUE partner communities of Albany Park, Little Village, East Garfield Park, and Auburn Gresham. NCUE staff collaborated with community-based organization (CBO) liaisons from North River Commission, Latinos Progresando, Breakthrough, and Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) to create a week of engaging activities for incoming freshmen to experience each community, their assets and resources, and their summer programming for youth. The goal was to ensure the future Chicago teachers were introduced to the NCUE model of the community-minded teacher from the very start.

“We got to see more of the community and how it impacts the school and vice versa,” one student said.

Many students had not visited particular neighborhoods previously, but they enjoyed the new experiences as well as learning more about various communities across Chicago.

Memorial wall at St. Sabina in Auburn Gresham.
TCT students learn about the Memorial Wall at St. Sabina from John Harris, mentor at Strong Futures, and Melanie Christion, from GAGDC.

By far, the highlight of the TCT students’ time in the communities involved their interactions with children, a desire of most future teachers. One student said, “We got to interact and follow the kids, which helped us realize how much one person can impact a child.”

The week was impactful for all who attended. Students will continue their program experiences this summer beginning their academic studies as well as working various internships around Chicago including the Lincoln Park Zoo, CPS summer programs, and community camps.  

To learn more about the program, visit the Teach Chicago Tomorrow website.