Recent Successes At A Glance:
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.
Today, the school population of about 750 students is diverse, including large groups of students of Puerto Rican, Mexican, and African-American descent, as well as students from East European and other Latin American heritages.
“We want to create kids that are able to change their communities and change their worlds based on education. Our kids, regardless of their background, where they come from, or what their home life is, can achieve the same heights as any other kid given the right opportunities, the right environment.” —Mr. Jamie Crosen, Assistant Principal, Roberto Clemente Community Academy
“When I think about my vision for Clemente, I want it to be the very best neighborhood school that we can be where neighborhood families chose Clemente.”—Dr. Marcey Sorensen, Principal, Roberto Clemente Community Academy
Under the leadership of Dr. Sorensen, Roberto Clemente Community Academy received the honor of instituting a wall-to-wall IB World School, a program that immerses all students in a highly rigorous curriculum taught around the world. In an effort to push academics at the school, she required all teachers to be trained in the new curriculum (IB standards only require one teacher from each subject to be trained). She discusses with us that doing so will “shift instruction and training”. In order to provide the teachers with additional resources to adjust to the new requirements for the IB World curriculum, Dr. Sorensen partnered with Atlantic Research Partners to provide all teachers with instructional coaches. She states, “[The] coaches and external partners understand your context and what the focus of your curriculum is, so [they] support the instructional shifts, not just for Common Core, but also for IB implementation.” As a result of the partnership and the revised curriculum, teachers have been perfecting their craft, pushing rigor in the classrooms, and collaborating with each other to ensure that all students receive an excellent education at Roberto Clemente Community Academy.
Dr. Sorensen passionately believes that equity and access are the equalizers of the current achievement gap. As such, she understands that importance of providing students with a plethora of resources to work towards their dreams. “In our redesign of Clemente, our intentional design on having IB pathways is on purpose. [We want to] attract multiple kinds of kids, so you’ve got the Honors Cohort, the CP Programs, the CTE programs where you have Allied Health or Broadcast Technology.” By making such difference of programs available for all students, Roberto Clemente Community Academy has been able to cater to their students’ wide array of needs. Dr. Sorensen says, “I think that it’s important that there’s quality options in their neighborhood and so that’s what we seek to create.”
When they first arrived at Clemente four years ago, Mr. Crosen and Dr. Sorensen were committed to understanding the context of the school and its needs before making any changes. As a result, they spent an entire summer speaking to hundreds of members from the school and the community. They attended community meetings, led focus groups with parents and teachers, and spoke to students about the improvements they wanted to see in the school. This level of dedication clearly shows the passion the leadership team has about ensuring their students get the best education to achieve their dreams.
In addition to building a curriculum that would challenge all students, Clemente has grown to include resources all community members as well. Mr. Crosen says,
“We now have Parent University, which now allows for parents from the community or parents from our students to enroll in CPS to get additional classes like ESL.”
They are also working on building a cohort for parents of IB students to better create a collaborative environment that expands outside of the school walls. Additionally, to ensure that students are being supported to and through college, Roberto Clemente Community Academy is also restructuring a program that will provide students with excellent resources to handle the rigor and challenges of being a college student.