Feb. 21, 2012—North Central College educator Janis Fitzsimmons is being honored by peers for her achievements in helping prepare young teachers to pursue careers serving children in high-need schools.
Fitzsimmons will receive recognition April 16 during the annual Honoring the Profession gala hosted by School of Education at Dominican University. The gala recognizes a select group of educators who continue to serve students and young people in the United States through the education profession.
“I am humbled by this recognition and I am honored to have the opportunity to address the possibilities every day,” Fitzsimmons says. “I am fortunate to work among deeply passionate, committed and talented colleagues at North Central College, the Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) and the State of Illinois. They motivate me to push beyond levels of learning and accomplishment that I never imagined.”
At North Central College, Fitzsimmons is executive director of North Central College’s urban education laboratory, which develops partnerships with high-need schools and connects North Central education students with early and ongoing clinical experiences and rigorous internships in high-need schools.
In 1988, Fitzsimmons established the Junior/Senior Scholars program serving children who attend high-need elementary and secondary schools in Aurora and Chicago. The program’s goals include introducing younger children and their families to the college experience and supporting their growth with experiences that aide them in completing high school, entering college and completing college degrees. More than 200 North Central College students serve as tutors, mentors and summer interns annually in the year around program that celebrates its 25th year this summer.
“The program is unique. The Junior/Senior Scholars learn from their North Central tutors and mentors, and the North Central tutors and mentors learn from the Junior/Senior Scholars,” Fitzsimmons says. “I have the rare privilege to learn from each and every one of them every day.”
As director of ACI’s Center for Success in High-Need Schools, Fitzsimmons oversees initiatives and programs to train and prepare teachers for the demands of teaching students at high-needs schools. The center has convened 17 member colleges and universities in authentic partnerships with 38 high-need Illinois school districts and 106 high-poverty Pre-K-12 schools. The partnerships have engaged more than 8,500 teacher candidates, teachers, school leaders and faculty who work with more than 77,000 children.
The center has assembled the expertise of its member colleges and also secured more than $17 million in funding. The center has led efforts to engage member colleges to partner with high-need schools and prepare effective teachers and leaders for schools serving students in impoverished communities. Today, 55 percent of new ACI teachers go on to work in high-need schools, compared to 35 percent in 2002. The rigorous curriculum transformation in these colleges and universities is systematic and produces long-term sustainable solutions to challenging problems in Illinois and across the nation.
North Central College is a leader in teacher preparation, offering undergraduate degrees in elementary education, secondary education, art education, music education, health education and physical education and minors in reading and English language learning. The College offers a master of arts degree in education, with emphasis in curriculum and instruction or educational leadership and administration.
Written by Klariza Alvaran '13