Photo of Tara Stamps with Mayor Brandon Johnson.

What a year it’s been!

The We Care team has so much to celebrate as we bring this school year to a close. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude and hope. In spite of another brutal school year, where we were asked to do more with less, we rose to the occasion — again, to heights I am certain some of us ever thought we would reach. 

Many of you were forced to live in your moment forgetting that you were part of a bigger movement, a movement that provided care and coaching support to nearly 500 early career educators. A movement that billed ISBE more than $700,000 dollars in compensation for the members enrolled in the We Care Virtual Instructional Coach and Building Mentor program. Our union is doing incredible things with and for our members. 

And, let’s not forget, our tenacity, grit and commitment to deliver a city and school system our children deserve, helped put a middle school teacher on the fifth floor of City Hall. Mayor Brandon Johnson represents what is attainable when people find their power. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yes, I stole a line from Spider Man, but having power means you get to put people in place who share your vision. This vision includes our own Jen Johnson, a former high school social studies teacher who is now Deputy Mayor of Education, Youth and Human Services. This is what 13 years of  fearless leadership and our union’s unwavering struggle and solidarity has yielded. 

We each played an integral role in getting our brother elected mayor of Chicago. We took our message of solidarity to the people and, as a result, we have people-powered leadership for the City of Chicago, for the first time in a generation. WE did that! 

Now, I know this year was difficult for many, but I challenge you to look at what our solidarity has been able to produce for our members, our schools and our city. Know that this same solidarity can provide the resources we need in our school buildings and school communities. I challenge you to remember this moment — the moment when we changed the conversation — by capitalizing on our momentum. 

The next school year promises more hurdles, but we are prepared to jump them. Next school year, we will have to forward the fight of the many, but we have the tools to do so. Next year, different villains will appear. But together we will take them down because solidarity Is our superpower! 

It has been an honor to shepherd our new educators through this coaching year. I continue to learn and grow and look forward to another year of building the We Care program.  

Tara Stamps is CTU’s administrator of new teacher development.