District 65 board receives updates on CREATE Teacher Residency during Monday’s meeting


Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek

The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Education Center, at 1500 McDaniel Ave. During the last meeting of the school year, board members heard from residents in the first cohort of the CREATE Teacher Residency.

Olivia Alexander, Reporter

Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s Board of Education heard from people involved with the district’s CREATE Teacher Residency program during its last meeting of the 2020-21 school year.  

The program, which launched earlier this month in partnership with Northwestern and National Louis University, trains residents in the classroom. They complete one year of shadowing teachers at Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Education Center, Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School. 

During the meeting, Superintendent Devon Horton said 89% of the residents are people of color. This speaks to the program’s goals of ensuring the district’s teacher population is representative of its student population, he said. 

Horton congratulated the residents and said they understood the program’s mission and cared deeply about the students they serve. 

“The teaching position is the most valuable role in the school system,” Horton said. “We have some phenomenal teachers here in our district now, and we would love to be able to add the talented individuals with the experiences that you just brought to our D65 community.” 

Almost all of the program’s first cohort of 19 residents attended the meeting, and as each introduced themself, they received an enthusiastic round of applause from board members and administrators. 

Some of the residents have worked previously in District 65 in various roles. Resident recruitment began with a “Grow Your Own” approach. Multiple paraprofessionals joined the first cohort after aiding in District 65 classrooms already. Several others said their parents or other family members were teachers, and other residents are coming to teaching after careers in other fields. 

Lisa Gaines, who formerly worked as a registered nurse, is originally from Chicago. After working in health education in the past, Gaines said she wanted to transition to education because she was tired of seeing people sick and not understanding how to maintain their health. 

“I wanted to have access to helping children understand education, and understand the value of education and (that) it pays to know and learn,” Gaines said. 

Following the introductions, board member Sergio Hernandez said he was “a career-changer” himself. He worked in food service in purchasing, and after assisting as a teacher’s aide in a bilingual classroom, realized he should become an educator. 

Hernandez said as a board member, listening to the residents speak reminded him of the hard work he did to get to where he is. Their passion is what will make the difference for district students, he said.

“When you are in our classrooms. I want you to continue on that same passion for our kids, because that’s equity,” Hernandez said. “Making sure that we are reflective of what the kids’ needs (are), meeting them and their families where they need to be met, so thank you, thank you, thank you for making this change.” 

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