Raised in Chicago’s western suburbs, Erica grew up heavily involved with her local YMCA’s youth programming; first as a participant, then as a staff member. Erica’s passion for teaching developed through her work as a camp counselor and swimming instructor in high school. After graduating from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education, Erica taught in a high-needs school where 100% of the students were living at or below the poverty line, which drove her passion to work with high-needs students.
While obtaining her master’s in curriculum and instruction, Erica taught for five years, mainly in Chicago Public Schools, in a variety of positions from substitute teacher to civic engagement specialist. Working closely with MIKVA Challenge, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, CeaseFire Illinois and other community groups, she was able to bring a variety of programs and opportunities to high school students on the south side of Chicago. During this time, Erica also taught AP American government and politics through University of Chicago’s Upward Bound program, which provides coursework as well as college and career planning for students who do not have access to diverse coursework within their schools.
Erica’s passion for civic engagement led her to join the We Movement, where she worked with educators across the state of Illinois to incorporate civics project-based learning into their classrooms. Through this work she realized that many educators were very passionate about their students being civically engaged but felt discouraged advocating for their students or themselves, which led her to her work at Educators for Excellence. In her work with E4E, Erica is able to meet with teachers from across the city, find out their passions and assist in locating opportunities for change. Erica believes in the expertise, power and knowledge of classroom teachers and their ability to create positive change for themselves, their students and their communities.