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TeacherAde, A true scientist


By Daniel Tortelli, Interventionist at Perspectives Middle Academy and Amate House Volunteer

Communicate Effectively

This past January, Kennedy King College hosted the Regional Science Fair for middle schools within the Chicago Public Schools system. Perspectives Middle Academy (PMA) sent three outstanding 8th grade scholars to compete in the event. On a last minute whim, I was asked to be the chaperone for our kids. I agreed, and was amazed to see so many wonderful projects and their creators from across the city.

During the extended judging session, all teachers and chaperones were told to wait in the college's foyer during presentations in the main hall. After about an hour, one of my scholars, Kim, came out of the main hall. “Mr. Tortelli, can you come in with me for a second?” Kim is not only one of the brightest scholars I’ve known in my time at Perspectives, she’s also one of the kindest. Beyond her “pleases” and “thank you’s”, (and nearly never getting marked for behavior), Kim always makes a point to smile, wish you a good day, and even give teachers and staff appreciation cards around holidays.

“Yeah, Kim” I said. “Is everything OK?”

Anxious but composed, she said, “Yeah, but someone said there was a problem with my presentation and she wanted to talk to my chaperone.”

We walked into the main hall and found one of the head managers of the fair, the one who came to Kim. After introductions, the manager stated, “the issue is that your student has her whole presentation in an iPad.”

“OK. And?” I said.

She continued, “Well the problem is that the rules clearly state she needs a poster board for her presentation. Rules for the competition state she is allowed to use a tablet to assist in the presentation. However, since she does not have a board as the main form of presentation, she will be penalized for not having all the necessary components.”

Well that’s a stupid rule, I thought. “So what is the point of her being here and presenting if she doesn’t have all she needs?” I snapped.

Upon noticing I was a bit agitated, the manager turned to Kim and answered, “Look, sweetheart, you can still present. The issue of not having a board will just deduct you a few points. If the rest of your presentation is spot-on, then those few points won’t matter.” Turning to me, “That said, it was in the rulebooks. I’m sorry she wasn’t aware of it, but that’s something we have to hold everyone to.”

Before I answered, I looked at Kim. This was the first time I noticed throughout the conversation, but Kim had been standing silently the whole time. Nodding when she understood or agreed, she otherwise remained confidently standing with her hands folded and smiling. “Okay,” she said politely. And with that, we thanked the manager for her time, Kim went back to her presentation and me to the foyer.

After a few more hours, the judging was wrapping up, the kids were being fed, and the other managers were scoring and prepping for the awards ceremony taking place afterwards. In-between helping with lunch, Kim found me again. “Hey Mr. Tortelli, I”m gonna go.”

“You’re not staying for the awards ceremony?”

“No, I have to get ready for the Ceremony of Lights.” For those who don’t know, the Ceremony of Lights is a celebration of those 8th grade students who have done well in living A Disciplined Life (ADL) both through behavior and academics. Of course Kim would be going to this, I thought.

“OK, Kim. How did your presentation turn out?” To this point, I hadn’t really heard how Kim was taking the news of her impending deductions.

“It was good. I was a little upset at first, but overall, I think I did good!” she said. “Thanks for all your help!”

I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized something: All throughout my frustration and quip with the manager, Kim spoke with confidence and politeness, never batted an eye, and did exactly what we’ve grown to expect from someone living A Disciplined Life--a school culture, a curriculum, and a common language. It helps us develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and personal productivity in both academic and personal lives.

Yes, she didn’t curse or name call or argue, but she also took the news and kept rolling with it. And why should she? After being told she was already not guaranteed the best score, even with all her preparation and hard work, she had every reason to get upset. But she recognized that arguing was not going to help her.

And you know what? It paid off. Kim went on to receive a medal for being in the top tier of point totals for the competition.

There are many steps to get where we want to be in life. As Kim reminded (or re-taught) me, one of the biggest steps is communicating with polite purpose. Even when something or someone outside causes you to stumble, keep the course. Even with her high score, Kim was unlucky and unable to advance to the next round of science competition, but at the end of the day she won. She set a great example of respect for herself and the situation, and certainly earned much praise from those judging her. The medal she earned in the moment, but her character won the science fair, a spotlight at the Ceremony of Lights, and bright future in high school and beyond.

TeacherAde is a blog written by and about the day-to-day life of an interventionist and Amate House volunteer living the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life at Perspectives Middle Academy.

I Am For Peace Featured at Family Action Network with Bryan Stevenson


Perspectives Charter Schools is proud to share the trailer of "I Am For Peace" at the Family Action Network (FAN) event on March 23, 2015.

I Am For Peace (2014) - Trailer from Perspectives Charter Schools on Vimeo.

Bryan Stevenson
Founder and Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Birmingham, AL
Professor of Clinical Law, New York University School of Law
Author, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

"American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference"
Monday, March 23, 2015, 7:00 PM

Evanston Township High School Auditorium
1600 Dodge Ave. Evanston, IL 60201

Free and open to the public.
Seating is first come, first served.
Suitable for youth 12+

PLUS: 2 Follow-Up Panels! No RSVPs required!

Perspectives Freshmen, Chicago International Film Festival and The Homestretch Movie


March 18, 2015

The entire freshmen class of Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy (MSA) was invited by the Chicago International Film Festival to view the documentary film The Homestretch which follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future.

A primary goal of educators at Perspectives is to instill a sense of compassion for all things diverse through the A Disciplined Life education model and using film to compliment in class instruction is just one way that teachers illustrate real life examples, including homelessness. “I hope that our freshman will be more empathetic toward homelessness,” said Perspectives 9th grade Algebra teacher Tanya Gaughan. “I hope they will feel driven to reach out and help others and realize that, though the students represented in the movie struggle every day of their lives, they still have focus and goals and purpose to do better and to succeed.”

On a daily basis, Perspectives students study the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life (ADL) that help students develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and tools for productivity.

The MSA students learned about each of these smart, ambitious teenagers - Kasey, Anthony and Roque - and were surprised, inspired, and challenged to rethink stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. Through haunting images, intimate scenes, and first-person narratives, these teens take us on their journeys of struggle and triumph. As their stories unfold, the film connects us deeply with larger policy issues of juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBTQIA rights.

With unprecedented access into the Chicago Public Schools, The Night Ministry’s “Crib" Emergency Shelter and Teen Living Programs, The Homestretch follows these kids as they move through the milestones of high school while searching for a warm place to sleep, a quiet place to study, the privacy to shower. The film goes beyond high school, to focus on the crucial transition after graduation, when the structure of school vanishes, and homeless youth struggle to find the support and community they need to survive and be independent. A powerful, original perspective on what it means to be young, homeless and building a future in America today.

The film is funded, in part, by The MacArthur Foundation, the Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Chicago Community Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation, and Pierce Family Foundation, among others.

The Homestretch is a co-production of Kartemquin Films and Spargel Productions.

Iron Wolves Compete in FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regional Competition


Team 2709, also known as the Iron Wolves, travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this weekend to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition Wisconsin Regional.

Post by Sarah Moyer via Twitter

Perspectives Charter Schools Hosts Former NBA Player Mark Aguirre


Mark Aguirre, a former player in the National Basketball Association, recently visited the Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy to learn more about the A Disciplined Life education model.

At Perspectives, we teach ethics. Our 26 principles of A Disciplined Life guide student behavior and performance, helping them to develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and the tools for productivity.

In this video students answer the question "what principle of A Disciplined Life are you studying?"

Howard University Students Mentor Perspectives Students During Alternative Spring Break


March 16, 2015
Briana Carter, Public Relations Major at Howard University contributed to this article

For five consecutive years, Perspectives Leadership Academy (PLA) scholars are working with college students from Howard University during the week of March 16th. "Each year, Howard students visit during their spring break and work with a select group of students," said Antoinette Self, program manager at PLA.

Hundreds of Howard University students who skipped the beaches, parties, vacations and even trips home for spring break are embarking to seven U.S. cities and Haiti, where they will spend the week serving others. This year during the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) week of March 16, more than 400 students will be working in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and the communities of Croix des Bouquets and Petion Ville in Haiti.

ASB Chicago participants will tackle the gun violence epidemic facing the city. Howard University students will educate high school students about conflict resolution and ways to build a better future for themselves. Students will also work with advocacy groups to lobby for stricter gun laws.

“I feel like gun violence, literacy and education are topics that are real important and [they] hit home to me,” said Grace Hawkins, 21, a junior psychology major from Camden, N.J. She could relate to the students and understand that a city’s reputation sometimes can overshadow an individual’s good character.

On a daily basis, Perspectives students study the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life (ADL) that help students develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and tools for productivity. The Howard ASB partnership allows middle and high school students an opportunity to develop relationships with college-going peers. “I just want to build relationships,” said Hawkins. “I want them to feel like my stay here was helpful.”

The daily interaction between the students leads to new relationships and reinforce the learning objectives at Perspectives, to educate students for college and prepare them for life. “They are funny and creative [children],” said Hawkins, after spending the day with students at the Perspectives Leadership Academy. “They live in an environment where they have to be street smart, so they may do things that are different, but they are not lost.”

Gun violence affects more than the person who is shot, noted Nnenna Ochunba, 19, sophomore economics and political science major from Newark, N.J. “It affects the shooter, the shooter’s friends and their families – and that just ripples out and has so many negative effects on the community.” Because the issue of gun violence is so prominent in Chicago, he jumped at the opportunity to part in the ASB and inspire Perspectives students to not be a part of the ripple.

"Our experience with ASB Chicago and Howard University students is always really positive for our scholars who want to be engaged and inspired," said Self. "Here at Perspectives Charter Schools, we look forward to many more years engaged in meaningful learning and instruction with Howard and ASB Chicago."

“I just want to inspire at least one person,” said Ochunba. “I just want to see [the students] aspire to greater things.”

The effort is part of the University’s award-winning Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program led by Executive Director Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau.

Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy Middle School Boys Basketball Win CUBL Championship


Posted by @PCS_Athletics

Congratulations to the Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy Middle School Boys Basketball team for wining the CUBL Championship.

This is the fourth time that these young men have appeared in the final game and the third time that they have won the championship in the last five seasons.

Learn more about athletics and enrichment programs.

Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus Middle School Boys Finish Second in CUBL Championship


The Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus middle school boys basketball team finished runner-up in the CUBL Championship game.

"They showed great team spirit and a real passion for the game of basketball," said Perspectives Athletic Director Vinay Mullick. "They represented our school network with dignity and embodied the principles of A Disciplined Life both on and off the court."

Learn more about athletics and enrichment programs.

Chicago Internships for Perspectives Charter Schools Students at Illinois Institute of Technology


Posted by Ms. Puzon

The internship program at Perspectives Charter Schools introduces the many career options that our students can choose by connecting them with local Chicago businesses and organizations.

The Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy interns pictured here are life long learners with our partner Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

Launch Event of the Perspectives Young Professionals Board


March 11, 2015

CHICAGO--More than 60 Chicago young professionals gathered at the John Barleycorn River North, to launch the Perspectives Young Professionals Board (also known as PYP). The mission of the PYP is to support the students of Perspectives Charter Schools by raising awareness of Perspectives and the A Disciplined Life education model.

"We feel so lucky to include so many of Chicago's young professionals in our Perspectives family," said Perspectives program manager Shayla Butler. "We are humbled by their generosity not only with their time, but their energy and resources, too."

The event included a special screening of "I Am for Peace," a student-led documentary film showcasing students living A Disciplined Life as a strategy to tackle the violence they face in Chicago.

“A Disciplined Life is a school culture, a curriculum, and a common language,” said Butler. “It helps us all develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and personal productivity.”

The founding members will Lead fundraising events; Attract new friends and donors; Raise awareness through social media; Actively volunteer with our students; and, Help improve public education in Chicago and beyond.

“I am really excited about this opportunity to serve on the Young Professionals Board,” said Mike Rice who works at RCP Advisors in downtown Chicago. “This is a wonderful opportunity for a group of dedicated young professionals to make a difference in education.”

Perspectives is seeking talented, innovative, and enthusiastic young professionals who are committed to our mission of educating students for college and preparing them for life.

To become a Member of the Perspectives Young Professionals Board, please email Shayla Butler at sbutler@pcsedu.org, or call at 312-604-2101.