Chloe Bentley Teacher, Al Raby High School

Compassion, patience, forgiveness and the desire to connect with students, according to Chloe Bentley, are the qualities that make up a great teacher.

Ms. Bentley, a Senior Seminar and English Literature teacher at Al Raby School for Community and Environment in East Garfield Park, possesses all of the qualities above and so much more. With an exuding amount of positivity and a welcoming bright smile, it comes as no surprise as to why the senior students naturally gravitate toward the kind-hearted teacher. Ms. Bentley, a graduate of Chicago Public Schools (Lane Tech College Prep), has been teaching for seven years with three of those years at Al Raby. In thinking of her passion for teaching, she explains, “I really wanted to do something where I could help teenagers. I also had a deep passion for reading and writing. Marrying my two passions was the best way I could reach kids the way I wanted to.”

This year has proved to be a success with the established new partnership between Umoja and Al Raby and the implementation of Senior Seminar. Joyce Debrah-Sheppard, Umoja’s Partnership Development Director, has the pleasure of supporting Al Raby and Ms. Bentley with the essential resources needed this year to implement Senior Seminar in a way that will be most beneficial to senior students. Ms. Bentley is an advocate of Umoja’s work, especially when it comes to the curriculum and social emotional learning. With much appreciation, she exclaims, “The college information and resources Joyce provides is so valuable… I don’t see how the curriculum would have been successful without Umoja. It’s really allowed me to focus on the social emotional issues the students are lacking and how it looks to completely embed it into the classroom curriculum.”

As Ms. Bentley reflects on some of the breakthrough moments with her students this past year, she said, “A lot of kids have a great deal of trust issues or self confidence in academics or taking a successful role in their future. The way the curriculum is set up, there’s a lot of team building, trust building. It was hard at first because students were uncomfortable talking about goals and confidence. After a team building activity the students felt more comfortable and were willing to trust and talk freely about college.” Social emotional skills are critical for young people to learn who they are and how to build positive relationships which is why Umoja provides lessons in the curriculum to develop these skills. She adds, “The curriculum really made them feel like they’re in control and their future is truly in their hands.”