As Chief Schools Officer, Brenda Cora is tasked with working alongside multiple stakeholders to ensure that Noble fulfills its mission, where all students have equitable and positive school experiences that equip them to succeed on the path of their choice, leading to 75% of alumni completing college. Brenda began her career in East Garfield Park/West Humboldt Park at Noble’s Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, where she eventually served as principal for six years. As principal, Brenda managed her leadership team and utilized continuous-improvement frameworks based on cultural responsiveness to engage in data-based problem solving and decision making. During her tenure, she was able to improve student retention and academic growth significantly and pushed Rowe-Clark’s CPS School Quality Rating to a Level 1. In 2017-2018, under Brenda's leadership, Rowe-Clark achieved citywide recognition for attaining the 10th highest overall SAT growth and the 3rd highest for African-American students in CPS. Brenda is a proud alum of Noble Street College Prep’s founding class, where she graduated at the top of her class and went on to earn a B.A. in economics with a concentration in gender and women’s studies at Grinnell College. Family is extremely important to Brenda, so spending time with her 11-year old daughter, two older siblings, and parents give her great fulfillment.
Why do you work at Noble?
Both my own life experience and engagement with my community has cemented in me the idea that most institutions in this country are not built to serve people that look like me. This is an injustice that I keep at the forefront of my mind every day. My decision to work and remain at Noble is a deeply personal one, because I want to work for an institution that is reflective in its practices and policies and that is working to ensure that it is not another institution that fails families that look like me. Noble is that institution.
Who was your favorite teacher while growing up?
My favorite teacher was Desmond Jones. Mr. Jones taught me science and math at the original Noble campus, and I will never forget how he was able to create a space where taking risks was encouraged and where, through any setback, I could feel comfortable, welcomed, and safe. Mr. Jones created engaging lessons that helped me access complex concepts and that made clear connections to my life. In the same vein, he inspired me to become more active as a student by asking me to join his softball and basketball teams. Most importantly, Mr. Jones is my favorite because of how he showed his unwavering belief in my potential and success. He encouraged me daily to lean into my individuality rather than reduce myself and my value to numbers society deemed to be most important. He cared and continues to be an important role model in my life today.
Favorite thing about Noble or favorite Noble moment?
My favorite part of Noble is our advisory system. In my own experience, advisory was a place that increased my sense of belonging as a high schooler and helped me to improve my relationships with peers and teachers.
What do you/your department do at Noble?
As a Chief Schools Officer (CSO), I work to ensure that the six Noble campuses I partner with are operating in service to Noble's vision. In addition to directly managing six principals, I am a part of an Education Team whose goal is to better serve Noble students on their journeys to choice-filled lives through the improvement of principal/campus staff experiences. The campuses I support are:
- Butler College Prep
- Chicago Bulls College Prep
- Gary Comer College Prep
- Johnson College Prep
- Pritzker College Prep
- The Noble Academy
Start at Noble?
Grinnell College ( B.A. in Economics)