Velma Thomas Principal Promoted to CPS Leadership Program

Published January 9, 2018

Mary Kay Richardson headshot photoPrincipal Mary Kay RichardsonMary Kay Richardson, principal of the Velma Thomas Early Childoood Center at 3625 S. Hoyne Ave., has joined the ranks of leading Chicago Public Schools (CPS) principals by entering the Independent Schools Principals progam. This program rewards high-performing CPS principals with more autonomy and networks top educators together to share best practices and further develop professional skills.

"I am most excited about the Reggio-inspired professional development benefits that I hope to leverage for my staff," Richardson said. "We can learn so much from seeing other schools ... and collaborating with them to strengthen our early childhood program."

The Independent Schools Principals program has recently grown to include 75 principals since its launch in the 2015-16 school year. "These principals embody the best of CPS: leadership, commitment and innovation," said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. 

Reduced oversight from CPS and more flexibility to innovate are hallmarks of the program, as is its peer-to-peer professional learning community. “By empowering our leading principals with greater flexibility, we allow them to innovate in ways that ensure our students receive a high-quality education tailored to meet their needs," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Richardson hopes her participation in the ISP program especially helps support and promote a dual-language instructional method at Velma Thomas, as well as "connecting Velma Thomas's Kindergarten-bound families with CPS dual language elementary schools," she said.

Velma Thomas provides full- and half-day pre-Kindergarten school instruction; it has received an Award of Excellence in Preschool Teaching and Learning by the Illinois State Board of Education and been named an Arts Excelling School by CPS.

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