This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.

Cean How are you? I mean I am doing really well; I logged into a bunch of different classrooms today. Many students were participating in different classes, unmuting themselves and engaged. I woke up early because I was celebrating my kids’ birthday. Mickey Mouse was a hit so we made them Mickey Mouse waffles, and it was a great way to start the day. Matter of fact, it was a beautiful way to start the day. One thing you can repeat every morning? Eat breakfast with the family. Slow down and stop and look around and see the people around you. Drink coffee out of a mug!

What is your favorite type of coffee? My favorite is regular dark coffee. I stopped using sugar and using cream. 

Why did you stop? Was there a specific reason? I read 44 pages out of a book, and in the pages I read, it said I need to eat better so that is what I got out of it. The book is “Eat, Move, Sleep” by Tom Rath. It was given to me by another Principal at that time, a very wise principal, Vincent Gay. He gave it to me at the principal’s retreat which was 2 days before we went to remote learning due to COVID.

How many years have you been principal? This is my second year at the Noble Academy, but I have been at the Noble Academy since its founding in 2014. I actually started in April 2015 because I was at Pritzker College Prep.  I was at Pritzker the 2014/15 school year, and as the Assistant Dean of Culture. I was also teaching one geometry class to juniors. 

Did you always want to be a principal? I don’t know if I always wanted to be a principal. When I first started I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a teacher. I was in business school part-time because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I quickly realized it didn’t fulfill me personally. Then I stumbled upon Teach for America and was at a school in South Shore for a few years then I found out about Noble, and I was at Pritzker as a 9th-grade algebra teacher.

What was the best part about that? Meeting the students for the first time. They are just full of excitement about the experience they’re about to embark on. I also coached the math team, so being a coach for the 9th grade team, I had a large group of students who wanted to participate. It was fun to see kids line up to get on the bus on an early Saturday morning to go do math outside of their math class. 

 How did you end up in Chicago? I applied to Teach for America and I wanted to stay in the Midwest. I grew up in a small town in Minnesota so the thought of moving to a big city was something I wanted to do. I had visited Chicago when I was in college and I am not from a big city so seeing a big city was exciting. I fell in love with the city because I thought the people were nice. I don’t know if I think the same now. When I first moved here I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any family here. I remember the first weekend in Chicago I went to check out the city and its neighborhoods. I walked so much that day from downtown to Lincoln Park Zoo because I didn’t know how else to get there so I walked. I took the bus back because I was exhausted from walking but I had never taken the bus. I had to call my sister because she had some experience with taking the bus. It was in the middle of February, winter in Chicago.

Can you describe your hometown? My hometown is around 900 people, no stoplights, and everyone knows everyone. My dad is from humble beginnings. My dad grew up as a farmer. My mom is the daughter of a baker. My mom got her bachelor’s degree in finance after having 3 kids. My dad continues to be in agriculture. In my past, I did a lot of ice fishing in the winter months and in the summertime, I spent all waking hours playing tennis. I don’t play tennis anymore, it’s too expensive.

How many siblings do you have? I am the youngest. I have an older brother and an older sister. 

Can you think back to your first day teaching at Noble? My first day at Pritzker, I taught summer school, and I taught it to all grades. Freshmen were there taking it for enrichment and all other grades were taking it for credit recovery.

What were the feelings you were feeling that day?  I imagine I was feeling the same feelings a freshman feels when they first start at Noble. I didn’t want to let students down. I am an anxious person. The number of times I went through that lesson that day I just wanted to make sure everyone understands what I was going to teach. 

Were those feelings the same as your first day as a principal?I think it was the same sort of excitement as my first day as a Principal but I knew the students and I knew the staff so I knew the values at that point so I felt like I was aligned. There were things that needed to change year to year and that was something I was ready to dive into. 

How do you feel being a principal during a pandemic? It’s obviously tricky to be a Principal  just like anything during this pandemic but is also like how do I guide my staff in making them feel that we’re still a community.

What is one goal you have for the school year? One goal I have for the school year is,  All griffins win, students feel the support, and TNA is a place that is grounded in love and high expectations.  I think for us we want to ensure that we are looking at the experience students of color have at TNA and make sure it is an equitable experience and TNA is the best school to attend. 

Written by Joni Rogers, Principal The Noble Academy; submitted by: Mariana Vazquez


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