Takeshi White-James is entering her fourth year as the principal of Avalon Park Elementary School (Avalon Park), where she has led record-breaking achievements and positively transformed school culture. Takeshi proudly describes the Avalon Park environment as one where students are expected to work hard and soar to the highest heights, and students, parents, and teachers alike share a common language around learning goals and what it means to be good citizens in society as a whole. Under Takeshi’s leadership, Avalon Park reached Level 1+ status on the district’s School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) for the first time ever in the 2015-16 school year and earned a Well-Organized rating on the My Voice, My School survey.
To continue the school’s growth, Takeshi is focused on using personalized learning to increase student growth and attainment on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) scale. She also hopes to sustain the school’s strong academic gains and demonstrate consistent performance at Level 1+ status.
Takeshi’s journey to the principal role began at the encouragement of her mentor, the late Dr. Joan Forte (former principal of Randolph Elementary School). After recognizing Takeshi’s skills and potential for leadership, Dr. Forte urged her to pursue a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Chicago State University. In the following year, she also pursued a master’s in educational leadership from Chicago State University. Ultimately, having the opportunity to nurture students and help them realize their full potential is Takeshi’s favorite part about the principal role. She is a proud product of CPS, where she attended over seven elementary schools and developed a passion for becoming an educator after enduring the challenges and instability of her personal experience.
Takeshi believes that if instructional leaders make the best decisions for students, then the system will increase student growth and attainment to ensure that every child has the opportunity to meet their academic, social and emotional potential. She is looking forward to growing her knowledge and strengthening her capacity to serve her school and her Network 12 Professional Learning Community (PLC) through this Fellowship experience. She is excited to take part in collaborative thinking and collective sharing of best practices with her principal peers.