Pershing Network Team
Family & Community Engagement Manager
Valerie is the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Manager for the Pershing Network. In this role she facilitates the process of building and sustaining meaningful partnerships between family, school, and community organizations that support improved learning outcomes for students. She participates in a variety of school and community events to inform, solicit feedback, and engage school stakeholders in discussions tied to school improvement efforts, policies, and programs. Prior to joining Chicago Public Schools Valerie taught 1st grade bilingual students and Spanish for Educators professional development classes in Cicero, IL. Previously, Valerie was an interpreter and translator for Illinois Early Intervention families and service providers. In the private sector she has worked in sales and as a cultural diversity training consultant. Valerie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was also a Bernard Shaw Prize recipient and Presidential Scholar. She earned a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University, and is currently completing a Master of Arts in School Leadership at Concordia University. As a parent and long-time resident of Chicago, she is focused on contributing to the collective effort to help all children gain the skills needed for college and career success.
Julio César Contreras
Deputy of Schools
Julio is excited to be a part of the Pershing Network Team. He has worked for CPS since 2003 and his journey thus far has been very rewarding. Julio whole-heartedly believes that education is the gateway to creating a promising future of our communities, nation and world.
Interesting Fact: Julio can only write with mechanical pencils.
Deputy of Schools
Dalia's voyage with Chicago Public Schools started last October (2011) when she set sail with the Pershing Network Team on a wild journey. "Our voyage has been challenging and dynamic, and has caused us to stretch our thinking into exciting realms of innovation." Dalia is excited to share with her team and Pershing Network schools the knowledge and insight her past experience as classroom teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal have afforded her. "Our vision is for Pershing Network Principals to be empowered to be the kind of instructional leaders that foster flourishing schools--schools of choice."
Interesting Fact: Dalia likes binders.
Instructional Effectiveness Specialist
Jeannie Kim is the Instructional Effectiveness Specialist (IES) who will serve as the CPS Framework for Teaching consultant for the network. Jeannie is excited to join such a dynamic team in this new role. She is looking forward to working closely with administrators to observe teachers and calibrate ratings based on the Framework. Her role is to support principals in providing reliable and consistent feedback for their teachers. Jeannie has worked as a classroom teacher in Chicago Public Schools for the past six years, serving as department chair and a Clinical Instructor for the Urban Teacher Education Program.
Interesting Fact: In her spare time, Jeannie enjoys reading fiction novels, yoga, and cooking vegetarian meals - she dreams of competing in an amateur version of Food Network's show Chopped.
Instructional Support Leader
Tim joined Chicago Public Schools in 2010 via the Broad Residency. He spent his first year serving as a project manager for the Autonomous Schools Office and then joined the Pershing Team in a similar capacity during 2011. Tim currently supports principals and Instructional Leadership Teams within the Pershing Network. Previously Tim worked at McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Elmhurst, IL and Morgan Stanley, a financial services company in New York, NY. Tim holds an M.B.A from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.A. from Princeton University.
Marissa is equal parts executive assistant and office manager. Along with being the point person to call regarding operational questions (if she doesn't know, she knows who does), Marissa also maintains the Pershing Network website. Before the Pershing Network, she worked with the Autonomous Schools Office since its creation and is always excited to see amazing student achievement caused by the creative thinking of our teachers and administrators. In her alternate life, Marissa is assistant artistic director of Chicago Latin Street Dance Company, where she choreographs and performs internationally. After graduating with a degree in Dance Performance and Spanish, she went on to train locally & internationally, and eventually ended up co-founding Chicago Dance Crash. She has choreographed works for multiple Chicago theater companies and had recently been nominated for a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for choreography. Marissa is currently in school persuing a masters degree in teaching.
Susmita is the Data Strategist for the Pershing Network and is responsible for performance management for all the Pershing Network schools and program evaluation. She also provides analytical support and professional development to schools on NWEA MAP data and assessment. She has been with CPS since 2009. Susmita holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She has worked on evaluation projects on education and health at the National Opinion Research Center and Department of Comparative Human Development at the University. Before coming to Harris, Susmita has worked in a public policy think-tank and a socio-economic consulting firm on education projects for UNDP and the World Bank in India.
Mary Kay Richardson
Instructional Support Leader
Mary Kay Richardson serves as the Instructional Support Leader (ISL) for the network. Mary Kay has worked in Chicago schools for past ten years as assistant principal and curriculum coordinator. She is excited to join the Pershing Network and utilize her expertise in K-4 Literacy to support teachers and school leaders in improving teacher practice and promoting high student growth.
Interesting Fact: In her free time, Mary Kay loves biking, cross-country skiing, dancing and reading!
Chief of Schools
Victor Simon has served the 31 school communities in the Pershing Network as the Chief of Schools since his appointment to the position during the 2011-2012 school year. Victor has worked in leadership roles across our district from Pre-K through 12th grade. He began his career in education at Whitney Young Magnet High School, one of the premiere learning institutions in the country. His most recent tenure at the local school level was Principal of Dore Elementary School. Student performance improved at Dore throughout his tenure and the school was recognized for the highest level of individual student growth in the district from 2007-2011. The level of growth that occurred at Dore demonstrates Victor's focus on high expectations for all students which he brings to the Pershing Network. Using the reflective approach offered by a continuous improvement model, Victor works closely with each of our unique school communities, listening to their specific needs, developing and coaching local school leaders, and ensuring school resources are strategically aligned to the goal of every child reaching their full potential.