Tch of the Week: CAHS Art Teacher Brian Mead

photo 1 (2)School buildings can be hectic and Chicago Academy High School is no exception. When I am seeking a tranquil place, I head to Brian Mead’s art classroom and all the chaos fades away. Student centered creative work is taking place, and the atmosphere makes you want to sit down and find your inner Michelangelo.  

Brian Mead is only in his second year as CAHS’s art instructor, but his impact on his students and the school makes it seem like he has been here so much longer.

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Tch of the Week: Sarah Golz from the Howe School of Excellence

Golz We have a new generation of scientists emerging on the West Side thanks to the amazing work of Sarah Golz. It’s my privilege to tell you about my diligent colleague.

Sarah has an unwavering commitment to educating her students that extends beyond her work inside her classroom. Every day I am inspired by her nurturing and empowering demeanor with students, her passionate and collaborative leadership style with colleagues as well as her caring and inclusive attitude towards families and the school community at large.

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Tch of the Week: Morton School of Excellence’s Lucas Smith

DSC00494In the midst of everything that teachers are expected to do every day, I have mad respect for those educators who still provide a safe space. Not just for their students, but also for weary or lost colleagues to talk and ground their purpose for being a teacher. On our worst days, that stability is transformative.

Lucas Smith has been that stable presence at Morton School of Excellence as a middle school English Language Arts teacher and mentor for the past six years. Let me tell you a little bit about him. Read more

Tch of the Week: Bradwell School of Excellence’s Lindsey Siemens

SiemensIf Nate Silver could adapt the PECOTA Algorithm to forecast Ms. Siemens’s value to the Bradwell School of Excellence, her ratings would be off the charts!  Plain and simple, you’d want Lindsey to teach your children. Her energy and positive spirit fill her classroom so completely that her 5th graders can’t help but smile as they learn.

If she’s not developing and delivering lessons that give her students the opportunity to build their own habitats or examine a dictator’s impact on a nation’s stability, Lindsey’s sitting down with her residents to debrief lessons, practice, or just give a pep talk. At some point in the day, you’ll also find her walking the third floor halls with an arm around a student who’s having a tough time.  It is in these moments that you so clearly see the single thread that runs through everything she does: compassion.  And it’s because of this compassion that her classroom is a place where students and residents feel safe taking risks and making mistakes.  Needless to say, this openness to error is the catalyst for all the learning that happens in Room 306. Read more

Tch of the Week: Chicago Academy High School’s Jessica Cipicchio

photoJessica Cipicchio is a teacher whose optimism and dedication are hard to ignore.  You’ll see her in her classroom before 7 each morning, and you’ll see her still in there when you leave for the night.  You’ll be offered one of her prep periods to get help differentiating lesson plans and materials for a diverse class.  And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be in her department and, she’ll give you cookies during meetings and presents around the holidays.  All told, Ms. Cipicchio is a pretty good colleague to have on your team. Read more

Tch of the Week: NTA’s Jenny Lynch

J-lynchYou may be lucky enough to work with someone like Jenny Lynch.

She inspires me because of her dedication to her students and to her practice.  She’s an advocate for each and every student in her class.  She holds herself personally accountable for their success and/or failure.  Her commitment to her students and the profession inspires me.  She spends countless hours after school and on weekends preparing and planning for instruction.  She’s always willing to try something new and put 150% into it.  Jenny just got a shared iPad cart about 2 weeks ago and already has students creating videos explaining their work and using book creator to make student books.  She’s fun, positive and encouraging. Read more

Tch of the Week: Marquette’s Jesus Duran


Have you ever visited a room and felt a special energy that made you want to stay all day?

Anyone who enters Jesus Duran’s first grade bilingual room at Marquette School of Excellence will feel that energy.

Jesus maximizes every moment with his students through his strong organization, explicit directions and tight transitions. His quiet, calm, but energetic presence creates a family environment that is safe for students to take risks and try new things.

His career has impacted students all over the world, working in Mexico as a teacher and principal, Cicero as a bilingual coach and now here at Marquette. Read more

Tch of the Week: TCA’s Oscar Newman


I want to introduce you to Oscar Newman, 7th and 8th grade Science teacher at Chicago Academy.  Oscar is an inspiration to other teachers in our building because he truly cares about kids and their learning.  He has an amazing grasp of science content and a variety of ways to make that content clear and comprehensible for our students.  He gets kids excited about science and really pushes their thinking.  They do incredible Science Fair projects because they have been using their inquiry skills all year and are able to design and conduct their experiments.  Oscar also has a variety live animals in the lab and has an afterschool Zoology Club. He also started the Green Dolphins – a group of students who manage the composting at our school.  He helps kids see that there is a bigger world out there that they a real part of and they can contribute to the greater good. Read more

This Week on TchAUSL: December 12, 2013

Tch of the Week: TCA's Sandra Oliva

Tch of the Week: TCA’s Sandra Oliva

Video Playlist: Quick Assessment Ideas

Video Playlist: Quick Assessment Ideas


Final Week! Give Thanks to Teaching





Hello again!

We are continually working with our incredible partners at Teaching Channel to improve TchAUSL. In the past few weeks, we’ve added a few sweet new features:

  • Do you want a notification when new blogs are posted? Now you can subscribe to our Tch Talk blog. Look to the right of this blog post and scroll down a bit and you’ll see a huge red Subscribe button.
  • We’ve improved the filters on the left of our Resources page making it much easier for you to find the tools you need for planning and assessment.
  • Our Tch Recorder app also received some tweaks designed to make uploading your clips to Groups easier. If you already have the app, you can update it from the App Store or go here to download. Read more

Tch of the Week: The Chicago Academy’s Sandra Oliva

s-oliva-totwWhat does it take to be an unsung hero in an AUSL elementary school?

I’m going to say emotional constancy, a personality made for collaboration, depth of knowledge, and mad organizational skills. With those talents as benchmarks, The Chicago Academy has an unsung hero in Sandra Oliva, Counselor/Case Manager extraordinaire. Read more