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A letter to city teachers

Jean-Claude Brizard | Brian JacksSun-Times

Jean-Claude Brizard | Brian Jackson Sun-Times

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Updated: June 22, 2011 2:14AM

‘I admire those who are afraid to take the journey, but still open the door. I admire those on the other side who let you in and offer you to stay.”

These few words, by Jodi Hills in her book I am Amazed, often remind me of the courageous work done by educators across America.

As most of you close out the school year this week, I wanted to take this opportunity to speak with you directly about some of the challenges and opportunities facing our school system in the coming weeks and months — and keep the dialogue going on how we can work together despite the tough fiscal times we find ourselves in today.

At my core, I am first and foremost a teacher. I was raised by teachers. I spent more than 10 years in the classroom as a teacher before becoming a principal. I experienced the same frustrations, challenges and joys that many of you feel every day educating our children. It is because of that shared experience that I hope to earn your trust as the CEO of this system and become your partner in improving our children’s academic success in the classroom.

I know we won’t always agree on how to get there. But regardless of where we may stand, you will always have my respect. I no longer want this central office to be seen as an adversary — we cannot do the work ahead of us without you. I only ask that you keep an open mind as we engage you on reforms that will impact our kids and that we keep the lines of communication open.

In my first three weeks in Chicago, I have visited 13 schools. It was, as you can image, the highlight of my time in our great city. Those little faces drive our agenda.

Visiting high school science classrooms reminded me of one of my former high school students who grew up in terrible home conditions but earned a Ph.D. in physics a few years ago. He tells me that he could not have done it without my help. Given his resiliency, I doubt it, but I continue to cherish our friendship.

I am sure that you have many stories that you can tell as well. I write to say thank you for what you do; to stay encouraged; to continue to believe that all children “can” and to take the summer to re-energize.

Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO,

Chicago Public Schools

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