Chicago Teacher Residency Names 10 Values Award Recipients

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Publish date: January 7, 2024
Categories: AUSL in the News, News and Updates, News from the Network
Post author: Jacob Pieczynski

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Throughout the year, the Chicago Teacher Residency distributes CTR Values Awards to current Residents that embody three values: Student-Centered, Equity-Driven, and Courage to Persist. CTR staff celebrated the first awards of the year at October’s Professional Development meeting. 

These ten Residents were awarded a CTR Values Award before winter break:

Rhonda Little (Courage to Persist)

“Rhonda has demonstrated resilience throughout this program, including at Dulles Sschool of Excellence and in her DePaul courses. She’s alway eager to help and collaborate with her fellow residents. Rhonda also knows how to have FUN! She has brought many smiles and much laughter to us and for that I’m very grateful.”


Julissa Martinez (Student Centered)

“Everytime I pass Julissa’s classroom she is always interacting with a student. I see her in the hall with her class walking them to their activities, providing wonderful redirections. I have seen her multiple times outside the classroom having one-on-one conversations, in not just English, but Spanish as well to make sure the child feels they are expressing themselves in the language they are most comfortable with. I can see how much she shines as a teacher and find it to be a great inspiration. She is doing an amazing job, keep up the great work Julissa!”


Steve Hegwood (Student Centered)

“Steve is always pushing himself, showing his dedication to his students and the program. Among all the challenges we all face, he still walks around Solorio with a smile and makes himself available to help out when needed. Although Steve has a mentor who teaches content that isn’t his preference, he takes that extra time out to learn the content so he can confidently teach his students. This proves his love and passion for educating others, and this award is well deserved!”


Monika Gunder (Student Centered) 

“Ms. Gunder demonstrates that she is student centered by how fully engaged the students are when she works with them. She is an integral part of our classroom community because of all of the support she provides not only to our DL [Diverse Learning] students, but to all students in our class. She encourages students to work hard every day and always reminds them to be respectful. She never hesitates to get clarification on content so she can best serve students at any given moment.”


Misty Blossom (Student Centered)

“Misty is an experienced educator, but she still is humble enough to listen, learn, she’s coachable and she makes it her duty to seize the moment daily. Whether she is scolding a student, loving on them, or just simply giving them that ‘I Don’t Play Look,’ every time it always ends in love. She has a growth mindset in the midst of chaos, she looks for solutions, and she wears her crown.”


Adrian Schaffer II (Student Centered)

“Adrian serves as a mentor to the young men at O’Keeffe. He helped out as a basketball coach. He strives to make a positive impact every day in the classroom. He pushes into a general education 5th grade classroom and leads the fluency lessons. He serves as a great male role model to students that struggle with social skills, mostly the young men but he also helps young ladies that struggle with conflict resolution. Adrian is also the only Black male teacher and I believe that gives some identity and accountability.”


Alessandra Nieves (Equity Driven)

“Alessandra demonstrates the CTR values through her willingness to participate in school events and engage with her students’ families. She has also shown leadership by taking the lead in teaching her class on multiple days on her own when her mentor was unavailable. Alessandra’s dedication and initiative make her deserving for this award!”


Cinderella McKinney (Student Centered)

“Cinderella exemplifies leadership, passion, and caring. She took great leadership on her lead teaching days. She prepared her documents and had all her plans ready beforehand. She has passion about her teaching as she is always excited to teach her class whenever I ask her about the class. She cares about students and building relationships with students.”


Ixchel Martinez (Student Centered) 

“She knows her students and is able to tailor their learning according to their needs. Ixchel understands that another way to help her students is to know the other adults in their lives here at Deneen. Ixchel is known at the school for her willingness to help with students who are English Language Learners. These young learners visabally relax as Ixcehel makes them feel welcome at their new school. I know that the Deneen staff appreciate Ixchell’s efforts. This all is effortless on Ixchel’s part. ability to adapt her teaching to accommodate. She is amazing!”


Nick Bennett (Student Centered)

“Every time Nick is in the halls at Tarkington he is always engaging with his students and every time he is transitioning with his class, they are very well behaved which shows their respect for him and shows he has implemented clear expectations from his students.”

Congratulations to these ten Residents for going the extra mile for their students, schools, and communities! CTR will continue to name CTR Values Award recipients throughout the remainder of the school year.

Do you know someone that wants to become a teacher in Chicago? Refer them to the Chicago Teacher Residency here and get rewarded with Visa gift card incentives!


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