Reflecting and Looking Ahead

Written by Elizabeth Shaw
07 December 2016

Greetings, CICS Community -

Yesterday was a great day for CICS. I stood alongside CICS families and educators to request that the Chicago Public Schools Board renew our charter, and grant us the opportunity to continue serving our brilliant students in the years to come. The CPS Board voted unanimously to renew CICS. Charter renewal is an important milestone because it means our students will have the opportunity to thrive in CICS schools for years to come.

As we celebrate this important milestone and approach year-end, and as I conclude my first one hundred days at CICS, I want to take a minute to reflect and to share my sense of optimism about the future of CICS and my gratitude for the commitment and talent across the CICS network.

CICS was renewed because of the work of our CICS educators, families, community members, SMO partners, Board, and staff. It was humbling to represent our CICS community yesterday and to highlight your tremendous accomplishments. Thank you for making sure our 8,600+ students continue to have the opportunities CICS provides them, and for helping our students succeed every single day.

2016 has been a year of change and opportunity for CICS. We have seen our third consecutive year of network-wide performance growth-- despite a challenging political and fiscal climate-- and our schools continue to do even more to put students on a path to succeed in college, careers, and life. I joined CICS this past September and I have spent my first one hundred days learning, assessing, and getting to know our schools and community. Thank you for welcoming me into the lives of our 8,600 students! I have been to every school multiple times, been in over a hundred classrooms, and I have gotten to know many wonderful educators, students, families and CICS partners. I have encountered so much talent, so much great work, and so much potential across our network.

Overall, I see CICS at a remarkable turning point. We have had the privilege and responsibility of educating thousands of Chicago’s children over our nearly 20-year history and we have delivered, meeting and exceeding CPS performance standards and outperforming traditional schools in the neighborhoods we serve. Over the next five years, we will do even more for our students and for our communities. We will ensure that each and every one of our CICS students is on a path to succeed in college, careers, and life. We also owe it to our city to be a strong fixture of the education landscape: a fixture which is forward-thinking and innovative, driven by strong values while remaining consistent in its outcomes.

In 2017, CICS will craft a new organizational strategy and eventually develop a new five-year vision and strategic plan for our organization. The strategic planning process aims to answer key questions about how we will optimize our positive impact on the success of current students, future students, and on the education ecosystem in Chicago. We will communicate openly and transparently, and invite our partners and stakeholders to engage in this process with us. Through our focused efforts we will see tremendous opportunities for our students. In the next year, we will face the fiscal, political, and strategic changes ahead of us with one singular priority: the success of every single CICS student.

I am proud to be a part of a community that is so full of promise and can’t wait to share what 2017 holds for all of us.

Onward and Upward,

E Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw

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