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Dr. Cheryl D. Watkins

Dr. Cheryl D. Watkins (IL '08)

Deputy Chief of Schools

Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, IL

At the time of the Award, Dr. Cheryl D. Watkins was:

John J. Pershing West Magnet School
Chicago, IL

Grade(s): Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Biographical Information

Since 2005, when principal Cheryl D. Watkins opened Pershing West Magnet School under Chicago's Renaissance 2010 program, it has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) every year under No Child Left Behind. Watkins was instrumental in writing the school's Renaissance 2010 proposal and developing its curriculum. She constantly inspires excellence among students and teachers, promoting a balanced literacy approach across content areas and an inquiry-based approach that encourages critical thinking. She has provided a wealth of after-school enrichment programs to help develop well-rounded students, from African dance and poetry reading to a championship-winning ballroom dancing program and the only archery program in the entire school system. Watkins has also worked proactively with students and teachers to create a safe learning environment, eliminating bullying at the school by helping students produce a video on the subject. Under her leadership, test scores improved dramatically, with most of her students meeting or exceeding state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in both math and reading. Watkins is a supportive mentor to new principals and has mentored candidates for National Board Certification. She is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, has spoken on various education-related panels, and was one of 13 Chicago Public Schools principals who traveled to China in 2007 to learn how middle school youngsters there are excelling in math. Currently, Cheryl supports teaching and learning at the network level while providing coaching to administrators and teachers.

Related Connections

Milestone: Dr. Cheryl Watkins (IL '08) Honored by UIC

Dr. Cheryl D. Watkins In The News

Give teachers 'green light' to become leaders
Catalyst Chicago  |  Mar 12 , 2012  |  Chicago, IL

Additional Information


University of Illinois at Chicago, M.Ed.

PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)


Illinois Women in Educational Leadership, Dare to Be Great Award