Equality. For Principal Chad Weiden of Edgebrook Elementary, this is the guiding force behind education in Chicago as well as the inspiration behind his path to principalship.
“My love of kids grew exponentially with the desire to make sure every kid had a great teacher and that there are equitable and fair action for kids,” he said. “Every kid deserves an amazing school.”
At Edgebrook, Chad has honed in on the idea of great teachers as the key lever toward equitable education, cultivating an environment of trust and collaboration to encourage professional development.
Edgebrook is located on the Northwest corner of Chicago and maintains an enrollment of about 480 students in grades K-8. Chad transitioned into the role of principal three years ago after previous leadership positions at the Social Justice High School and Blaine Elementary.
According to Chad, his main focus upon arriving at Edgebrook was to form relationships not only with, but between his teachers.
“My job is taking care of adults to make sure they take care of kids. I had two great kindergarten teachers who had never worked together despite working at same school for 12 years. Imagine the possibilities of them working together,” he said. “I facilitated this collaboration and at an end-of-year meeting, one of the kindergarten teachers said, ‘I want to thank my team mate; it has been amazing to work with my team mate and I have grown so much in the past year.’ If I can change the relationships in the way that the adults work in the building to help kids, then I’m doing my job.”
Third grade teacher Elizabeth Tun said she believes Chad has been an instrumental part of fostering a strong teaching community. “Mr. Weiden has helped me grow so much as a teacher,” she said. “His expectations are very high, but everyone is working toward reaching those goals.”
Chad said that a formative part of his own professional development has been the CPS Principal Fellowship made possible by The Fund, which he sees as a huge factor in developing his leadership skills with teachers. “I wanted to be around like minded principals,” he said, “and I loved that the learning addresses executive leadership, not just running the nuts and bolts of the school.”
For Chad, being able to witness the transformation of a teacher under his leadership is the most rewarding part of being a principal. “If an adult changes their perspective or changes their practice and a kid benefits, that makes me tremendously happy,” he said. “I get to see adults change, and it’s really exciting.”