It is important that CICS students maintain a healthy body and mind during the school year. CICS recognizes that meals contribute to our physical, social and mental well-being.
Our Food Services team plays an essential role to all our CICS schools. They are an important part of improving the health and well-being of our students. We would like to share the story of what our food service program does every school day in order to keep students healthy and fed.
A Change in Meals
CICS knows that what a child eats plays a role in their level of creativity, engagement and academic performance. Our food program ensures that students and families have nutritious meal options. Due to the pandemic, the last in-school meals were served to CICS students on Friday, March 13.
With only the weekend to plan, CICS began to offer meals for pickup to our students and their families on the following Monday, March 16. While those first few meals consisted of sandwiches and wraps, CICS quickly realized that families needed items that could be heated at home.
All fourteen CICS school campuses have on-site prep kitchens where food can be prepared and served to students from steam table serving lines, as well as self-serve salad bars. The current curbside pick-up breakfast menu offers shelf stable items along with occasional fresh fruit or juice. Lunch and supper options include ready-to-heat items such as hamburgers, chicken and burritos and there are new items such as chicken legs and other plated entrees being added. Pizza and chicken tenders/nuggets are still a favorite, just as they were when meals were served on campuses. The menus also acknowledge that families may have dietary restrictions so there are always no-meat protein items available. Milk is included with every meal and healthy snacks such as granola bars and raisins are also provided.
Curbside food pickup has been important while students are remote learning. CICS has accommodated most families who drive up to one the campuses; some families walk up to the table if they live close by. Every day, our families have been grateful for their childrens’ meals and for the opportunity to see the food staff, even if they are socially distanced or in their cars. Students are always excited to see their “lunch lady” from the car.
The CICS food service staff are rarely recognized for the important role they play in the lives of our students. At one campus, a mother occasionally cooks lunch for the food service staff and brings it to them on Fridays. This is just an example of how close this community is. They have served 500,000 meals since the middle of March. It is their mission, especially during remote learning, to create high quality meals that students want to eat and to get those meals to every family. Many parents realize that, without food service staff, their children would not have the meals they usually receive while in school. It shows how important they are!
As a school community, our priority is to keep every student fed. Even when school schedules change or holidays come and go, distribution times are adjusted. CICS has also added an additional morning pick-up time to accommodate family schedules.
March 13, 2020
Dear CICS Families,
We have appreciated your support, feedback and patience over the last two weeks as we have worked together to navigate the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19. In alignment with Governor Pritzker’s mandate to close all Illinois schools and under the guidance of public health officials, CICS will close all of our schools beginning on March 16 through at least March 30, with the possibility of a longer closure, depending on the circumstances at the end of the month.
Please know that this is not a decision that we have taken lightly, but one that we have made to put the health and well-being of our students, families, staff and communities at the forefront. We understand that the next two weeks, and possibly longer, will be difficult and, in partnership with Distinctive Schools, Civitas Education Partners and ReGeneration Schools, CICS plans to support our students and families in every way that we can. We recognize the incredible burden this puts on our families, and that, while it helps us mitigate the spread of the virus, it creates other significant challenges. Thank you for understanding that this decision was made to support the well-being of our community.
CICS and our SMO partners are committed to supporting our students’ continued learning throughout the closure. On Monday, school leadership teams and office staff will be at each CICS campus to distribute virtual learning materials to families that did not receive them on Friday. Individual campuses will communicate instructions for the distribution of these materials to their families no later than Sunday at noon. We are actively working with CPS and our food service provider to determine the method for the distribution of meals for our students throughout the closure. Where possible, we sent students home today with breakfast items for Monday morning in case of a potential closure. We are also working with CPS to create a list of community supports for child care, as we know this closure creates a burden on our families. We will follow up no later than the end of day on Monday with more information about these resources.
Throughout the closure, we will communicate with our parents and guardians via email on a weekly basis, or more frequently as needed and we will share updates via the CICS website, www.chicagointl.org.
Please know that our CICS team is here to provide resources and support to you and your child throughout this challenging situation. During times like these, we commit to coming together to take care of every member of the CICS community.
Chicago International Charter School
No one said teaching would be easy, but Casie Walls could never have imagined that most of her first two years as a teacher at CICS Longwood-Loomis would be remote. She is a big believer that professional development and mentoring support helped her with teaching her first-grade students. As an educator, Ms. Walls uses every resource possible including the No Nonsense Nurturing toolkit, teacher collaboration and even her own model of joy to make students part of a successful learning environment. This is why Casie was named a LIT teacher! LIT stands for Live Innovative Teaching and Ms. Walls exemplifies those words.
Casie is very familiar with the Loomis-Longwood campus. She attended and graduated from Longwood high school. Her passion for teaching came while a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her Master’s in Instructional Leadership. When she was a student teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park, her mentor urged her to apply for multiple teaching positions. Casie’s first choice was Loomis Primary because she longed to give back to the community that gave so much to her. When Casie received the call that she had a position at Loomis, she recalled, “It’s a small world and it was a blessing!”
Her first year at Loomis started in the classroom and transitioned to remote learning in March 2020. Even during remote learning, Ms. Walls has been able to build nurturing relationships with her students. “I try to model my own joy with my voice and my body in the virtual classroom which is easy when you see twentyone faces smiling at you! I start the day with an attention getter and when everybody is looking straight ahead into the screen, at that moment I have them.”
Ms. Walls understands the power of the No Nonsense Nurturing (NNN) Model. She uses positive narration to ensure that her students know she has high expectations for their learning. “My students know what I expect, and they know what they should be doing because I make sure to lead with precise directions and check for their understanding. I then use three praises such as Lisa has turned to page 4, Danielle has also turned to page 4 and Michael is looking at page 4. This positive narration lets them know what they are supposed to be doing such as being on page 4.” Her students learn from watching their classmates and the peers, as well as observing what she is doing online. “I will ask them to show me that they have paper and pencils. I will check for understanding. I will ask, “Who can tell me what I should have now? When I say go, hold up your paper and pencil.”
The NNN process strives to engage scholars by continually learning about them and relating their cultural backgrounds and experiences to classroom learning. In order to make the learning culturally relevant, Ms. Walls will add an example from her own life. “This is especially true when we are doing math. I engage with them and tell them how the problem relates to me. I try to find connections to their family life.” She recognizes that her students are young and so many things charge them emotionally, so she always stays grounded and connected when working with them. “I remind them that I was once in first grade. I reassure them with positive affirmations about how amazing they are and how smart they are. I try to create a safe space and assure them that they belong here. I may ask a question or have them write how they feel today, or if you were a teacher, what subject would you teach? They get so excited when they answer those questions.”
Even though the majority of her kids want to be back in the classroom, the health of her students and families comes first. Remote learning has helped her become much more tech savvy and organized. She has seen the power that using visuals to illustrate a problem has had for many of her students. She will take these new skills back when teachers and students return to the classroom. For Casie, she will always bring the joy of learning to all of her students, whether in person or remote.
Casie Walls is a second year 1st grade teacher at CICS Loomis Primary. Casie earned her Master’s in Journalism from Roosevelt University and a second Master’s in Instructional Leadership Masters in Instructional Leadership from University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to working at CICS Loomis, Ms. Walls worked for 8 years at Chicago Public Schools as a paraprofessional/Special Education Classroom Assistant. Casie Wells aspires to grow into a leadership role in the education sector.
This year marks the 26th anniversary of the United States honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy as a civil rights leader. More than ever, we need a moment to reflect on what still needs to be done to honor him from both a human and civil rights perspective. To celebrate this day, Taquia Hylton, CICS Ralph Ellison School Director, offers her reflection on the importance of this holiday, and discusses the need to continue Dr. King’s work of justice and equality for all.
On the morning of January 7, a day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I woke up with the words from "The U.S Pledge of Allegiance'' on my mind. I remember thinking over and over the words, "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". I thought to myself, Francis Bellamy probably didn’t write this with black and brown children in mind. This anthem still does not ring true. It doesn’t feel like the citizens in this nation have been indivisible at all. Our country seems to be more divided than ever before. Why? Because, what we have seen in the last few weeks (and over four years) is the result of divisive rhetoric from the country's 45th Commander In Chief. His words drove hundreds of "U.S. citizens'' to storm a building that should have been impenetrable, the symbol and meeting place of our democracy.
As an educator, when I think about liberty and justice I am drawn to each term's formal definitions. What is justice? Merriam Webster defines it as "the quality of being just, impartial, or fair." Liberty is defined as "the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges." Then, I reflected on the positives that came out of the day instead of the disheartening images that flooded every imaginable news media outlet. I chuckled as "liberty" and "justice" presented themselves in the state of Georgia via the results of the Senate election.
Just a day before the insurrection, the people of Georgia exercised their liberties at their polling places. As a result, Reverend Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, was elected the first African American Senator from the State of Georgia. We have come a long way! It brought me a sense of joy knowing Dr. King’s hard fought journey for the equal rights of African Americans became a reality with the election of Reverend Warnock. But more needs to be done.
As we celebrate Dr. King's life and legacy, I am grateful for the contributions that he and so many others have made for black people to be able to experience liberty and justice. Though African Americans have made incremental steps in society, we have a long way to go. In the words of Dr. King, "No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." Justice is NOT for "just us" nor is it exclusive of the black and brown community. It is for ALL of us! Like Dr. King, I have that dream too.
If you are a parent/guardian who has a question about your child during remote learning, please click on this link.
Dear CICS families,
Minutes ago, Mayor Lightfoot announced that all CPS schools will remain closed through April 20. Given the necessity of this action to protect the health and well-being of our students, families and communities, CICS will follow suit. Please note that our previously scheduled Spring Break from April 6 through April 10 will continue as planned and we will not provide teacher-directed instruction during that week. We will follow up with more details and guidance as we learn more, but please know that we are committed to supporting our students throughout this extended closure.
These are unprecedented times and I urge you to please stay informed and take care of yourselves, as we will all be in this for what feels like a very long haul.
Asunto: Cierre de la escuela extendido hasta el 20 de abril.
Estimadas familias de CICS:
Hace solo unos minutos, el alcalde Lightfoot anuncio que todas las escuelas de CPS permanecerán cerradas hasta el 20 de abril. Dada la necesidad de esta acción para proteger la salud y el bienestar de nuestros estudiantes, familias y comunidades, CICS hará lo mismo. Tenga en cuenta que nuestras vacaciones de primavera programadas previamente del 6 al 10 de abril continuarán según lo planeado y no proporcionaremos instrucción durante esa semana. Seguiremos con más detalles y orientación a medida que aprendamos más, pero tenga en cuenta que estamos comprometidos a apoyar a nuestros estudiantes durante este cierre prolongado.
Estos son tiempos sin precedentes y les insto a que se mantengan informados y se cuiden, ya que todos estaremos en esto por lo que parece ser un viaje muy largo.
Dear CICS families,
Estimados Familias de CICS,
Nuestro servicio de recoger comidas para su hijo/a están disponibles todos los lunes, miércoles y viernes, dos veces al día de 7: 30am-8: 30am y de 11:00am a 1:00pm en todas las escuelas primarias de CICS.
Si su hijo/a asiste a una escuela secundaria de CICS, puede recoger las comidas en una de nuestras escuelas primarias de CICS. Puede encontrar una lista de nuestros escuelas a continuación.
Nuestro programa de servicio de alimentos continuará presentando nuevas comidas incluyendo opciones calientes para calentar en casa, y se proporcionarán varios días de comidas cuando recoge las comidas para su hogar.
Puede visitar el sitio cics.schooldish.com para ver los elementos del menú y los horarios de su escuela individual.
Chicago, Illinois (August 28, 2018) - Chicago International Charter School (CICS) is proud to announce that Stephan McClain, Co-CEO of CICS school management (SMO) partner, Empowered Community Schools, and LeeAndra Khan, CEO of SMO partner Civitas Education Partners have been selected as Fellows in the 2019 class of the Chicago Urban League’s IMPACT Leadership Development Program. Additionally, Darrious Hilmon, CICS’ Chief of External Affairs will serve as a program mentor.
Eddie Johnson, Managing Director of Talent for CICS, defines diversity beyond the common terms of race and gender. When there is an open role on our campuses, she also looks for a diversity of experiences in candidates for each position. During interviews she often asks potential employees to talk about their own cultural competencies, focusing on how the CICS value of equity resonates with each person. Mrs. Johnson believes that the lived experiences and cultural awareness of CICS teachers can provide our students with a wider view of the world. A diverse workforce also can have a deep and lasting influence on school culture.
Positive school culture is one of the cornerstones that Eddie Johnson identifies as one of the reasons that people choose to work on our campuses. Research from several recent studies have indicated that a value-based school culture (pro-active disciplinary practices, professional development, opportunities for growth and recognition) is as important as compensation. CICS has been collecting data to guide the talent team in understanding why educators choose CICS and how to ensure that our schools retain the best and most talented teachers. Mrs. Johnson was instrumental in creating and implementing a data-driven equity-based compensation model earlier this year. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, Mrs. Johnson had attended a number of recruitment fairs on college campuses and saw other school districts advertising their starting salaries. When she talked with students, she walked them through the CICS model which not only has compensation lanes but also offers a range of benefits that few charter schools can match.
While professional development opportunities and parental leave benefits are important factors that influence teacher recruitment and retention, Mrs. Johnson believes that a positive school culture is still one of the strongest attractions of the CICS schools. The opportunity to share in the values of equity, diversity, innovation and positive change for students to what she believes brings talented professionals into our classrooms. She is confident that CICS’ continued investment in creating a culture where everyone can engage and learn will sustain its student-focused environment and continue to build a strong community that works together to help all students succeed.
Being authentic, motivating, caring and honest are important qualities to have and they are what makes me passionate about what I do. My journey at CICS Loomis-Longwood started in 2000 when I was invited by a friend to be a substitute teacher. I returned to Longwood-Loomis in 2019 after working for ten years at a state university grant-funded program that offered non-traditional teachers the opportunity to become teachers for ten years. I accepted a position as a Middle School 8th Grade ELA Teaching Apprentice, and the 8th Grade Events Planner and Parent Liaison and Coordinator.