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We Care

New Teachers/Clinicians Coaching and Mentoring Program

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For teachers and clinicians in their first, second and third years at CPS— especially new educators of color—there are so many pressures and pitfalls to navigate. No wonder CPS has lost so many teachers of color over the past twenty years. The CTU is determined to build connections that ensure newer clinicians and teachers in their first, second and third years find success.

Register today for the We Care Program for New Teachers and Clinicians, as a part of the Illinois Virtual Coaching and Mentoring program. This program is a union-led, CTU initiative in partnership with CPS.

The We Care Program provides:

  • A framework for We Care coaching
  • Two experienced professionals to support you:
    • A Virtual Instructional Coach to support you with curriculum development, classroom management, pedagogy, IEP’s, and other issues specific to your subject, grade, and area of expertise
    • An In-Building Mentor to help you navigate the culture and climate of your school and the wider community
  • Professional Development Units
  • A $500 stipend for participating

My mentor has been giving me exceptional advice on how to improve my teaching practices and excel in my professional responsibilities. Furthermore, she has offered me emotional support when needed. This is my first year teaching in person, and it has been at times very stressful. Ms. Alba has helped me stay strong and believe in my unique qualities as a teacher. Her smile and positive energy are contagious. She does not simply answer my multiple questions but authentically cares for my overall success as a teacher. She is incredible.

Marlene Tapia Garcia
Second year teaching 1st Grade

Jerrica and Timothy are the most amazing mentors. They’ve helped me navigate and celebrate many of the struggles, challenges and triumphs that we, as new teachers, have to go through on a daily basis — in particular during the pandemic. Having support from both of my mentors has given me the drive and desire to continue to be the amazing teacher that I have always dreamed of becoming and that I am. I hold near and dear to my heart the lasting relationships built with other educators from other CTU schools/communities. This means that I can collaborate and learn from other educators that have the same beliefs and values.

Kenna V. Whitley
Twenty-year educator, second year Special Education Teacher

Hear more about the We Care program

Hear presenters from the IFT, CTU and NEA discuss the development and impact of We Care and similar programs statewide in a webinar prepared for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Application Form

It only takes a few minutes to apply!

Tara Stamps

Administrator of New Teacher Development

Tara Stamps is a dedicated thought leader and advocate for educational equity and sustainable community schools. As a lifelong Chicagoan, she has spent the past twenty years working as a committed teacher and community activist. She is an award-winning educator, including recognition as a Golden Apple finalist. She is currently devoted full time to her role as Administrator of New Teacher Development.

Tara was first inspired to become a community leader by her mother, the late Civil Rights activist Marion Stamps, who fought tirelessly for racial equity and affordable housing in Chicago. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Tara has long been engaged in the movement for living wages, economic justice, and fairness within the workplace for all Chicagoans. She has consistently been involved in service to the community, currently serving as the chair of the board of directors of the Marion Nzinga Stamps Youth Center.

In 2018, the American Federation of Teachers gave Tara a Living Legend Award, and in 2010 she received the Chicago Teacher Union Leader award. In sum, Tara is an outstanding educator and advocate who seeks “to curate an authentic, socially conscious, civically engaging coaching and mentoring experience through the CTU lens with a goal of retaining more teachers of color in our classrooms. Because representation matters.”

If you have any questions about the We Care program email Tara at TaraStamps@ctulocal1.org.

Meet Some of Our Virtual Instructional Coaches

Every Virtual Instructional Coach (VIC) selected to mentor new educators has at least ten years of experience. The We Care program’s VICs are passionate about mentoring because they know firsthand the challenges that face new educators — especially educators of color and especially in the first few years engaging with students. Many remember the helping hands that got them through their early days and hope to “pay it forward” by helping new CTU members thrive on the job. Register for the program, and you’ll be in good hands.
Karyn Aguirre

Karyn Aguirre

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Karyn Aguirre holds a Master of Social Work and Master of Education with 17 years of school social work and leadership experience. Ms. Aguirre has serviced at-risk juveniles…

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and students with profound and severe emotional disorders, behavioral challenges and low-incidence disabilities as well as their families and whole school communities. She prides herself on her ability to quickly build rapport with students and families, resulting in sustainable relationships that promote social emotional development and academic achievement. She has extensive training and experience in facilitating individual and group therapy, staff development, school interventions, proactive and positive approaches to classroom management, and behavioral intervention strategies rooted in evidence-based practices.
Dion Love

Dion Love

HS English Teacher and Instructional Coach

Dion Love is a National Board Certified Teacher at Kenwood Academy High School. He teaches 11th grade English, and he is also the Instructional Coach for Kenwood’s new and veteran…

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teachers. He is proud to serve as a Virtual Instructional Coach through We Care, helping to support new teachers of color as they maneuver through the ins and outs of teaching and understanding CPS. “I am elated that CTU has adopted the We Care Mentoring Program,” said Mr. Love. “This program affords us the opportunity to establish a pipeline of teachers of color who are confident in their instruction, who are able to impart their knowledge to others, and who are part of a professional learning community that fosters equitable and culturally responsive teaching pedagogy.”
Marisol Nieves

Marisol Nieves

HS Spanish Teacher

Marisol Nieves is in her 21st year teaching High School Spanish at CPS. Marisol grew up in Chicago and attended Northeastern Illinois University, where she graduated with a BA in Secondary Education/Spanish and…

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a Master’s degree in Teaching ESL/Linguistics. She is thrilled to be part of the We Care program, as she puts it, because “the CTU recognizes that educators of color play a special role in student academic success through culturally relevant instructional practices, life experiences, and unique cultural connections with teachers.”
Jerrica Omoware

Jerrica Omoware

Middle School Special Education Teacher

Jerrica Omoware has been a special education teacher for ten years. She has taught students with special needs from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Ms. Omoware currently teaches…

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Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies to 7th and 8th grade students in a resource/self-contained special education classroom at Park Manor Elementary School. She is a wife and a mom to a 3-year-old son who loves superheroes. Jerrica loves to travel and enjoys reading, listening to music and being a fitness enthusiast. “I’m proud to help other teachers of color navigate the CPS district and to support them during their first year of teaching,” said Ms. Omoware. “I had the privilege of having a mentor when I first started teaching, and he really helped me, so I am glad that I can pay it forward to educators entering our profession today.”
Tlaloc Rodriguez

Tlaloc Rodriguez

School Social Worker

Tlaloc Rodriguez is a School Social Worker who works with school staff and families to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all students. Tlaloc also works directly with students to further develop…

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both their academic interests and social and emotional competencies. He has a M.Ed. in Youth Development and a MSW with a specialty in schools. He has sixteen years of experience working with school-age children and youth, staff, and parents in various professional settings. His professional interests include positive youth development, the psychophysiology of stress, emotional intelligence, and school/home climate enhancement. He is also a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) enthusiast. “I am so happy to see that we have an influx of new professionals of color with a sincere desire and motivation to make a positive impact on our children,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “That motivation needs to persist through the years, and one way of making this happen is by partnering these new educators with seasoned professionals of color who are understanding, compassionate and downright motivated to teach them and guide them through shared experiences.”
Alyssa Silva-Rafi

Alyssa Silva-Rafi

Elementary School Teacher

Alyssa Rafi is a general education 4th grade teacher with an ESL endorsement. She is currently working towards a Leadership PhD with a specialization in curriculum and instruction. Alyssa was born and raised in Chicago…

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and attended Chicago Public Schools. “I am excited to continue my role as a Virtual Instructional Coach this year,” said Ms. Rafi. “I am proud of this program that supports new teachers and clinicians of color. Being a new teacher comes with challenges, but teachers of color face additional obstacles. The We Care Mentoring Program serves as a positive support system for new teachers and their coaches. I personally am grateful for the opportunity the program has offered to expand my own community of teachers across the district, and I benefit from their expertise and am inspired by their commitment to our profession. I believe empowered teachers will empower students. Representation matters to inspire our children to achieve their goals.”
Kimberly Walls

Kimberly Walls

Middle School Special Education Teacher

Kimberly Walls is currently a Special Education teacher at Fulton Elementary for 6th through 8th grade. She earned her National Board Certification in Early Adolescence Science in 2017.

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Kimberly is a graduate of Bennett College, one of the nation’s two historically Black colleges for women. She is also President of the Chicago Alumnae Chapter for Bennett College. She is a proud wife and a mother of a Kenwood Academy High School senior. Kimberly has been teaching at CPS since 2008. She was displaced after the Chicago Board of Education closed Guggenheim Elementary in 2012. She fought against school closures alongside Sherri Dabney-Parker, Gervaise Clay, and fellow rank-and-file educators. She is a member of the CTU’s Climate Justice Committee and a CTU delegate. “I love science, and I am so excited to be a mentor with the We Care Mentoring program,” said Ms. Walls.

Apply for the We Care Program

It only takes a few minutes to complete the application form. We’ll contact you to learn your needs and connect you with the mentoring that fits your situation.
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CTU Speaks! Podcast

Our podcast, CTU Speaks! is hosted by Andrea Parker and Jim Staros. We’ll chat about our union, enforcing our contract, and our fight for the schools our students and educators deserve.

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