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NCE Candid Conversation with CPS Network Leadership: Culturally Sustaining and Responsive Pedagogy in Remote Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the education landscape. District-level leaders are working to meet school, teacher, staff, student, and parent needs--in a variety of community contexts--without a clear path forward. As we face a challenging new school year, how are Chicago Public School Network leaders building on their experiences from the spring to support equitable remote teaching and learning this fall?

In this webinar, lead by NCE Dean Rob Muller, CPS network leaders Elizabeth Alvarez, Zipporah Hightower, and Minerva Garcia-Sanchez explore the challenges and opportunities CPS teachers and school leaders face as they strive to ensure all students have access to inclusive and culturally responsive teaching--whether in-person, distance learning, or a hybrid of both.


Dr. Elizabeth Alvarez serves as the chief of Network 8. She provides support, professional learning, and guidance to school leadership, staff, and students at CPS schools on the South and Southwest Sides. Liz is a bilingual, urban school leader who brings multicultural awareness, gender sensitivity, and ethical appreciation to her leadership. She encourages staff, community, and students to achieve greatness in all they do and take pride in their school climate and culture. More importantly, she aims to instill a sense of belonging with a developed understanding of social-emotional learning in schools so that learning is at the forefront, and increased student achievement is inevitable. After 13 years in the classroom as a middle school science teacher, Liz served as an instructional coach for two years and an assistant principal and principal at John C. Dore Elementary School, where she took the school to a Level 1+ school quality rating. Liz holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also holds two master's degrees, one in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago and another in instructional leadership from the American College of Education.

As the chief of Network 7 with 25 years of service and a CPS graduate, Minerva Garcia-Sanchez works with school communities to develop a pipeline for college and career achievement. She currently serves the neighborhood where she grew up. Before this role, Minerva served as deputy chief of schools in Networks 8 and 10, where she developed and supported instructional leadership teams, bilingual education strategies, and best practices for instruction. Minerva began her education career as a bilingual teacher and later served as an assistant director at the Area 7 Learning Technology Hub, where she supported the integration of technology throughout CPS schools. Minerva also served as deputy of the Office of Language and Cultural Education and was the founding principal of Irene C. Hernández Middle School for the Advancement of Science in the Gage Park community. Minerva holds master's degrees in bilingual education and general administration from Chicago State University. She is currently completing her doctorate in urban education policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Zipporah Hightower is the Executive Director of the Department of Principal Quality for Chicago Public Schools. Since 2015, Dr. Hightower has led the CPS Department of Principal Quality with a focus on improving how the district identifies, develops, supports, and retains their principals, while also managing 90+ Independent School Principals. Dr. Hightower has served as a math teacher, principal, and Executive Director for the New Leaders Organization. During her 24 years of experience in education, Dr. Hightower also developed transformational school leaders. She has advanced the policies and practices that allow great leaders to succeed in her role as Executive Director of City Program Management for the New Leaders National team. As a principal, Dr. Hightower led student academic improvement gains in a high performing school in the Beverly community and a turnaround school model in the West Garfield Park community. She is also a national facilitator for Standards Institute, Unbounded, and has advised Deloitte staff on content design of Courageous Principals 1.0 and 2.0. Dr. Hightower holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Arts from Chicago State University, Masters of Education and Doctorate of Education from National Louis University. Her dissertation was on organizational change management in school, district, and national organizations. As an educational leader, Dr. Hightower focuses on creating conditions for everyone to be successful under her leadership. She enjoys spending time with her family.

View a recording of the Culturally Sustaining and Responsive Pedagogy in Remote Learning webinar

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