The Secret to Mentoring
Our middle school students are learning about self-direction and self-management, facing challenges head on, and finding success – both inside and outside of the classroom. Distinctive Schools teachers and leaders recognize how mentoring is beneficial for both their students and their practice, “Being a mentor has impacted my practice, it has given me a whole new insight into learning from a student lens.” says Rachael Beucher, Assistant Director of CICS Prairie, “Mentoring has changed the way I hold students accountable in my class.”
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? We asked Distinctive leaders to nominate mentors who have made an impact on the teaching and learning in their schools. We’re excited to celebrate the impact of these mentors, and share a few keys for implementing a mentoring program in your classroom.
“You have to build trust and a strong relationship with students before anything else. Most of my beginning sessions don’t focus on academics as I get to know the students better. They need to know that, as their mentor, they can come to you about anything, not just schoolwork,” shared Frank Cademartori, music teacher at CICS Irving Park. Mentoring has allowed students to see a new side to Mr. Cademartori, “It’s totally different from my job as an enrichment teacher, and has allowed me to connect with students in a new and meaningful way. It allows them to see that I am more than the content that I teach.”
Building trust is an important component to mentoring. “It takes time to set a solid foundation of trust. Authenticity, transparency, and consistency in my actions helps students to identify who I am as an educator and mentor,” shared Le’Ka’le Darden, sixth grade science teacher at CICS Bucktown. “Starting the year with questions about who they are, what's important to them, and what support they think they will need allows me to learn more about them as well.”
When asked about her approach to mentoring, Traci McCullough, eighth grade teacher at CICS Bucktown, shared “My strategy is to help my students help themselves. I help them to build on their strengths, so they gain self-confidence to chase the challenge.” Being a mentor has impacted Traci’s classroom and the way she teaches; the relationships built through mentoring time deepens her understanding of student learning. It has changed the way Traci communicates with her students and families, and made it easier to assist students in meaningful goal setting.
If you are considering a mentoring practice for your classroom, we have three keys to help you get started:
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS Bucktown.
This month's Trailblazer has fully embraced personalized learning in her classroom. She takes the time to get to know each students' strengths and needs, both personally and emotionally. She sets high expectations for all and truly believes that, with ongoing and personalized support, all learners can achieve. This Trailblazer truly embodies what it means to be "Distinctive"! She worked tirelessly over the summer, partnering with the Academic Team, to plan and facilitate multiple sessions during New Teacher Institute. Her participation and natural leadership were instrumental in ensuring that our new teachers feel prepared and excited for the year ahead.
The students and staff at CICS Bucktown are so fortunate to have this Trailblazer leading and teaching alongside them. Please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Dana DeMaria!
Ms. Dana DeMaria: Featured Trailblazer!
Distinctive Schools is excited to announce an evolution to our executive leadership team structure, aimed to better address the needs of the staff, students, and families we serve.
“Growth of our leadership team is designed to best position Distinctive Schools for the future, so we can continue to grow student achievement and positively impact our school communities.” said Dr. Joseph Wise, Distinctive Schools Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Ultimately, with these new roles, we will be able to make great strides in education and begin the 2018-19 school year with success.”
The additions to the executive leadership team include the appointment of Brianna Terrell as Chief Strategy Officer and Erin Lanoue as Chief Operations Officer. Terrell and Lanoue will join the executive leadership team, working closely with Scott Frauenheim, President, and Dr. Jennifer Ferrari, Vice President and Chief Schools Officer.
“Both Brianna and Erin bring a wealth of talent and invaluable perspective to our work, and their unique expertise will strengthen our collective efforts to offer high-quality public education opportunities for our students.” said Dr. Ferrari.
Terrell previously served as Network Chief of Staff for the past year. In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing Distinctive Schools’ partnerships, development, school growth, and strategic initiatives. In bringing these components together, Distinctive Schools sees the opportunity to share best practices and leverage skills across the organization.
“After a thorough and thoughtful planning process, Brianna was the clear choice to lead strategy at Distinctive Schools,” said Frauenheim. “She is an accomplished, results-oriented, and high-integrity leader with a track record of improving organizational efficiency. We are looking forward to having Brianna lead our strategy and development work into the future.”
With experience as a management consultant at Deloitte and an Education Pioneers fellow, Terrell brings a new perspective to Distinctive Schools through valuable resources and best practices in organizational development and planning.
Newly appointed Chief Operations Officer, Erin Lanoue brings operational and charter school expertise to the executive leadership team. She will assume responsibility for operations, talent, finance, and marketing at Distinctive Schools, as well as be responsible for the alignment and prioritization of these teams to the schools to ensure operational excellence across the organization.
Lanoue is a seasoned and trusted leader who continuously delivers results. Prior to this appointment, she successfully led operations for Charter Schools USA and served in leadership roles with Chicago International Charter School for over ten years. She has overseen effective growth of school sites, as well as improved administrative and school procedures and strategic planning.
“Distinctive Schools will benefit greatly. We are excited to appoint a highly respected charter leader like Erin as COO, and be able to leverage her tremendous experience in education.” said Dr. Wise.
Distinctive Schools National Board of Directors:
Chicago, IL (April 4, 2018) Distinctive Schools announced the establishment of its National Board of Directors that will help guide Distinctive Schools as an educational practice leader committed to social justice and the elevation of access and achievement for all students.
Distinctive Schools began its journey in May of 2011, with the mission to ensure successful futures for all of its students. Today, in partnership with Chicago International Charter School (CICS), Distinctive Schools currently manages four K-8 elementary schools in Chicago: CICS Bucktown, CICS Irving Park, CICS Prairie, and CICS West Belden. In the northern region of Minneapolis, in partnership with Innovative Quality Schools, Distinctive Schools manages Minnesota Excellence in Learning Academy (MELA), and at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Distinctive Schools proudly partnered with Central Michigan University in the opening of its newest school, Distinctive College Prep – Harper Woods, a K-3 charter school, adding grade levels each year through grade eight.
“We are ready for an expanded set of minds to help us serve our students, families, communities, and staff. Our Distinctive Schools educational model is fueled by innovation and informed by cutting-edge research and best practice, and, we believe with the establishment of our National Board of Directors, we will be able to continuously innovate as a network,” stated Dr. Joseph Wise, Chairman of the Board and CEO at Distinctive Schools. “The board that we have assembled embodies the spirit of positively impacting K-12 education, and brings education expertise, talent and energy to the table. We expect them to help us continue to innovate, trailblaze, and collaboratively lead a public education transformation, as well as help build a new narrative for what our nation’s education should look like today.”
The Distinctive Schools National Board of Directors consists of leaders, representing a diverse group of institutions including acclaimed education organizations, universities and K-12 academies. The Distinctive National Board of Directors are
As national thought leaders in the area of personalized learning, Distinctive Schools fosters learning environments that honor each individual and nurture the whole learner, and through a highly personalized model of instruction and supports, students develop a strong sense of agency and confidence and consistently exceed national norms on both growth and attainment targets.
“We believe our National Board of Directors represent the apogee of education today. We are very fortunate to learn and work with them, and to utilize their unique skill sets and expertise to continue to strengthen Distinctive Schools,” stated Scott Frauenheim, President and COO at Distinctive Schools. “The new board will strengthen support in all areas of the organization while continuing to positively impact student achievement. It is an exciting step for Distinctive Schools.”
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from Distinctive College Prep (DCP) - Harper Woods.
This month's Trailblazer uses personalized learning to create an engaging and rich classroom environment. Her students take ownership of the progress they are making, guided by a combination of their own goals and standards-based targets. Student ownership and independence allows this trailblazer to individualize instruction, provide intervention, and give feedback to her students. She is willing to do whatever it takes to motivate her students, even working their personalities into daily classroom routines. She encourages her students to think, question, and connect, and she is bringing out the best in her students every day!
We feel so fortunate to have her at DCP - Harper Woods, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Ciara Cox!
Ms. Ciara Cox: Featured Trailblazer!
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS Prairie.
This month's Trailblazer is leading the way for personalized learning at CICS Prairie. She serves as a thought partner with the LEAP Learning Network, participates in the Frontier pilot for second grade, and was featured as the very first Frontier All-Star teacher in February! This Trailblazer incorporates student choice and voice in her daily practice. Her students use a variety of menus and surveys to explore how they want to learn and demonstrate their learning. Her leadership is helping to trailblaze a strong personalized learning path for everyone at CICS Prairie.
We feel so fortunate to have her at CICS Prairie, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Keona Roberts!
Ms. Keona Roberts: Featured Trailblazer!
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS West Belden.
This month's Trailblazer is someone who has a passion for teaching. She has been teaching at CICS West Belden since it first opened in 2002. She is a dedicated leader, who has pushed herself to grow as an educator every year. She is always willing to be a mentor and goes above and beyond for her students and her colleagues. Her energy is contagious, she is a true innovator, and she makes learning so much fun!
We feel so fortunate to have her teaching at CICS West Belden, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Kelly Pollack!
Ms. Kelly Pollack: Featured Trailblazer!