Principal Perspective: Dolores Cupp of Hurley Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School

Note from The Fund team: Happy Friday! We’re delighted to bring you another Principal Perspective post this week. Dolores Cupp leads Hurley Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School, and she is also leading a team through the Summer Design Program 2016 (SDP 2016). We asked her to write a post about her experience at our SDP 2016 Design-Thinking Kickoff, and we’re excited to share it with you today. Thanks so much for your words, time and dedication, Dolores! 

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My name is Dolores Cupp, and I am the proud principal of Hurley Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School. I’ve been working with CPS students for over 20 years; I’ve been principal at Hurley for the last nine years. In my years both in and out of the classroom, I’ve come to appreciate one truth: The more you learn; the more you come to realize how much you don’t know.

During a presentation I attended on the “Student-Centered Design Canvas,” one concept stuck with me: personalized learning. In my years as principal, I’m proud to say that my staff had become pretty proficient in differentiation and using technology as a tool to provide both intervention and enrichment. But this concept, personalized learning, was on a whole different level. I knew I had to learn more, and I knew that my teachers and students deserved the chance to experience what would come to be one of the most powerful instructional strategies I know.

During Summer Design Program (SDP) in 2015, my teachers and I were interested in finding more time in our day to support our teachers’ PD. A shift in our master schedule was implemented, and we found the time we needed. We thought we were done. Through SDP, we were able to work with LEAP Innovations. As a result of working with LEAP, we found our issue was not in finding the time, it was in how to effectively use the time and resources we had.  What my team and I received was support to create a shift in sight: in the way we saw our school; in the way we saw our students; and in the way we saw our staff. We were taught how to “see the problem” and not get stopped by the barriers in our way. With our “time” barrier out of the way…our team was left with the question of “What If.…?”  This opened a whole world of possibilities.

When the application came out for the Summer Design Program 2016, I knew we couldn’t afford NOT to apply. We have a long way to go in our quest to find the way personalized learning and student-lead instruction fits into our school. I found that the shift in sight that I gained from participating in the program last year helped me to be a more effective member of my team as we dug deep to find the problem and come up with a prototype. The power in the “How Might We…?” tool produced ideas that we would have never imagined before. I’m excited to start this process again with a different team of my staff. I am excited to see the shift in sight and mind that we will develop as a team. But most of all, I’m excited to see the impact that this leaning will have on our students, our school, and our community. I am grateful for the opportunity.