Chicago Public Schools (CPS) prides itself on its love for all children. Leaders, teachers, and community members rally around the belief that all children are capable of success and work tirelessly to ensure that every child has equitable access to a high quality education. Replete with ground-breaking initiatives and research-backed programs, CPS is rooted in the philosophy that our children’s academic achievement and well-being come first.
Featured School: Bogan Computer Technical School
Total Number of Students: 856 - Bilingual Population: 9.58% - Diverse Learner Population: 23.25% - Free & Reduced Lunch Population: 90.07% - African American Population: 50.5% - Hispanic Population: 47.7% - Asian Population: .1% - Multi-Racial: .6%
“All of our [students] experience an education that’s driven by the IB philosophy, which focuses on developing a learner profile so students can become life-long learners. We also understand that there are many different opinions in the world and we have to work together. I think that’s really critical in this time because the ability to collaborate with others is a key, central focus of the education system in the 21st century.” —Ms. Alahrie Aziz-Sims, Principal of Bogan
The hallways of Bogan High School are lined with college pennants, inspirational posters, and brightly-colored lockers. A peek into any classroom would show students deep in discussions regarding their readings and excited teachers presenting their lessons.
However, four years ago, this space was drastically different. “I think when you look at the kids and the teachers when we started the transformation, they didn’t really see this as a school,” Ms. Sims says. Her dedicated nature comes across as she discusses the changes she’s made in the school since receiving the School Improvement Grant. She had a pertinent role in the implementation of a wall-to-wall IB program for all students, a feature that immerses all students in rigorous, international curriculum for all subjects. Doing so, not only increased student engagement in classes, but also pushed teachers to refine their teaching craft.
In addition to implementing a wall-to-wall IB program for all students, she’s created a culture that pushes students to be passionate about learning. “By focusing on people’s individual needs and helping them reconnect to the purpose of learning and academic growth in their students, we’ve seen that students are now more focused…They really have adopted the school slogan: Bogan Today, College Tomorrow.” -Ms. Sims
To help students transition into the new intellectual and behavioral expectations of the school, Ms. Sims also developed the Bengal Way—a student and staff code that models excellent behavior. “It continues to build pride and that’s what you ultimately want.”
Alongside creating a strong culture for Bogan, Ms. Sims is thrilled about the infusion of technology in their classrooms with hopes of further personalizing teaching to meet every student’s needs. “I am really excited about our classrooms, especially when the one-to-one [technology] implementations. The possibilities of what our school can look like in the five to seven years is completely amazing. Teachers are not bound by a lack of resources…they have time to work together, so they’re building a path, they’re getting bolder and more creative about what they do with the kids,” Ms. Sims discusses.
To provide teachers with the essential tools to reach their goals of personalized learning, Ms. Sims partnered with Atlantic Research Partners to provide each teacher with an instructional coach. With their help, she notes, teachers now feel more confident in their abilities to align their lessons to the curriculum and execute them with excellence. Additionally, teachers are thrilled about the opportunity to work with each other and perfect their craft. “I think the use of collaborative instructional strategies has greatly increased, so we see that the kids are working together more and I think that teachers have more confidence in their ability to talk about curriculum with instruction. We’ve also continually seen teachers sharing things that they’re learning and working together which is critical if you want to improve instruction and the school overall.”
Ms. Sims is always quick to place the spotlight on her teachers. She discusses the powerful impact of her teachers taking on leadership roles on campus, “My teachers this year are so amazing. They are leading meetings, they are always on point. They do the professional development, they build relationships with [other] teachers, and they are inspiring other teachers to do better. That has made our lift this year so much easier.”