Principal Spotlight: Colleen Collins

Written by Chicago International Charter School
24 October 2022
Posted in Educator Spotlight

CICS schools pride themselves on many things, such as having a dynamic group of leaders for our students and families. Recently we had the chance to talk with Colleen Collins, Principal of CICS West Belden.

West Belden is a premier urban charter school in Chicago’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood. Lauded for consistently superior student growth, West Belden boasts a dedicated staff that fosters close relationships with parents to ensure student achievement. 

Colleen has built a strong foundation for CICS through her leadership at West Belden and now you get to see a glimpse of the greatness she possesses.

We’ve had the opportunity to speak with Colleen to discuss her background, hopes and dreams, and her undeniable love for education as well as her community. In addition to her profile, be sure to check out CICS’ West Belden’s Facebook page where you may find her sharing the great things happening live or you can head over to their  website!

1. Why did you decide to become a principal? 

My love for the CICS West Belden community is what made me decide to become a principal. I started teaching at WB in 2007 and quickly fell in love with the drive of our students, the commitment from our families, and the dedication and compassion of our entire staff. It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead our school!

2. What is one thing you are looking forward to in the new school year? 

I am so excited about the steps we are taking to have a Community Hub model. We recognize that the work we do with students and families stretches far beyond the typical school day. I am looking forward to partnering with families and the community in greater ways to make WB even greater!

3. What is one skill that you have that makes you a great principal? 

I am solution-focused and bring creativity and innovation to the table when solving challenges.

4. Name something that you are proud of on or about your campus. 

At CICS West Belden, we are a family. I am so proud of the school culture across our entire community. We work hard to make WB the very best it can be. We are intentional about building a sense of belonging, close relationships, and deep levels of trust.

 5. How do you make positive connections with your students? 

I believe that positive connections with our students is critical in reaching all other academic goals. I love having conversations with our students where we can connect on topics other than school, and I love getting their input about ways we can make WB the best school experience for them.

 6. How are you making those connections now? 

I talk to them!

7. What is your vision for student success this year? 

While academic success will always be our focus, we recognize the need for social emotional learning opportunities. If our students can finish this school year with a greater sense of self and understanding of those around them, I will feel very proud of our work.

 8. Education is ever-evolving. If money/resources/time were not an issue, what would you do to improve your school? 

I would make sure that students, teachers, and families have the tools and resources they need to be successful, both in and out of the classroom.


Colleen Collins, Principal of CICS West Belden, is committed to providing equity and access in education for all learners. Colleen began her career at CICS West Belden in 2007, after receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois. She later earned a Masters in Education from Concordia University. 

 In her first years as an educator, Colleen served as a kindergarten teacher, moving into the role of Mentor Teacher, Instructional Coach, and Assistant Principal, before assuming the Principal position in 2016. Each of these experiences brought Colleen closer to her current focus on strong relationship-building, student-well being and joy, and challenging curriculum to ensure student success.  

 Colleen has been an integral part of the team in the design and implementation of a nationally-recognized innovation model at CICS West Belden. She continues to find ways to meet the unique needs of each student K-8, supporting social-emotional wellness and growth, and building a strong culture of love and care.

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