My name is Ivette Cruz and I am an Early Childhood general education teacher. I began my journey as an Early Childhood educator in Chicago Public Schools 12 years ago, which has allowed me to develop, adopt and implement philosophies and teaching practices that I genuinely believe in. My experience with diverse populations has strengthened my abilities as an educator and in working with a wide range of student needs and families.  I chose to be an Early Childhood educator because I believe that healthy and appropriate early childhood school experiences will help young children develop a true love for learning. My passion is social emotional development, as I believe that children need to learn about themselves and managing their emotions and behaviors in order to function within any environment. I am currently completing courses that will certify me to work with children that are English language learners, and am committed to furthering my education in working with students with special needs.

Personal: My husband and I are parents to three children, ages 4, 7 and 10. Being a mother of three very different children has provided me with years of personal experience in a wide variety of areas. One of my children has severe food allergies, which has prompted me to advocate for safe school environments for children like her. My children attend a Chicago Public School, as did I. I truly believe in supporting public education, and partnering with school communities to strengthen educational opportunities. I was born and raised in Chicago, and truly love living in such a diverse and lively city. In my down time I spend time with my family. We love being outdoors and exploring nature, as we are raising budding environmentalists and animal advocates! We spend our days investing in our time together reading, playing, and exploring my children’s artistic talents (they get it from their father)! J

Jahn: Ms. Emily and I joined forces in December of 2014 and have developed strong philosophies and methods of teaching in an inclusive setting.  We have had tremendous success thinking "outside of the box".  In our classroom, your child will be safe, know they are loved, learn, grow, and exceed all expectations, and most of all, have fun learning!  

In our classroom:  In our room, you will find the use of natural lighting (no fluorescent lights used), a sensory room, flexible seating, true play, strong social emotional support and behavior management, daily yoga, frequent opportunities for movement, students learning at ALL levels, and solid academic instruction and support.  As a team, with different backgrounds, areas of expertise, and experience, we are working together to make sure EVERY child is learning in a way that is best for him/her, building on strengths, making improvements to areas of need, and providing exposure to all different modalities and styles of learning, and encouraging self-discovery.

Benefits of co-teaching and inclusive settings:

  • Students receive more individual attention, more interaction with teachers, and a smaller teacher/student ratio.
  • Research has shown that students without disabilities who participated in a co-taught classroom (such as our classroom) had improved academic performance, increased time and attention from teachers, increased emphasis on cognitive strategies and study skills, increase emphasis on social skills, and improved classroom communities.
  • Studies have shown students with disabilities who were in an inclusive setting had a more positive attitude, were provided with role models for behavior and learning, interacted more with peers without disabilities, and were exposed to higher level concepts and discussions.
  • Behavioral and academic expectations remain high for students with and without disabilities.
  • Being in a blended environment teaches empathy, tolerance, and acceptance of ALL individuals with different abilities.
  • Increased student engagement and increased use of strategies by students.
  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem, and stronger peer relations.
  • 2 heads are always better than 1! All of our students, whether or not they have special needs, learn in different ways. Even as adults, we know we learn and take in information differently than some of our peers.