Educator of the week

Dr. Delena W. Little 
Keller Regional Gifted Center

Chicago Public Schools District 299

A proud product of the Chicago's Public Schools system, Dr. Delena W. Little is a passionate, thoughtful educator and principal of Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center in South Chicago, IL. With over 35 years of experience in education, Delena has shaped the lives of many as a mentor, role model and overall champion of student success. Her intrinsic drive to educate, inspire and motivate Chicago's youth led Delena towards earning a B.S. in Special Education, M.S. in Guidance and Counseling and M.A. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Chicago State University. She later attended Northern Illinois University, where she earned a Ed.D in Educational Administration.

As a child, Delena found inspiration in her first teachers; her parents. They instilled in her a love for learning paired with a natural desire to help others. Delena's parents were role models for resilience, a rich work ethic and strong character. Together, they embraced success and failure as interdependent components of life, both essential to fruition and further aspiration. This outlook on life has since followed Delena, and has become one of the guiding principles in preparing her students for success through failures, triumphs and perseverance.

Delena began her educational journey in the classroom at the elementary level. During her eleven years in the classroom, she discovered that one of the greatest joys was generating a "student's enthusiasm to learn and make connections between self and world application through project based instruction and learning." With goals of maximizing student impact in this way, Delena undertook numerous roles at the administration level for the past 25 years which include: adjunct professor, budget coordinator, district administrator, region curriculum coordinator, area instruction officer, central office senior manager, and principal. Most recently, Delena has settled in as the proud Principal of Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center, where she has led since 2011.

Delena has been a lifelong champion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and the opportunities it offers students to foster creativity and engage in the exciting realm of discovery and technological innovation. Although STEM supports student success and "empowers our economy and a critical component of America's global leadership, many people are still unaware of its existence." With this in mind, Principal Little and her staff at Annie Keller are working to generate access and awareness for her students and community, educating the next generation of world class STEM talent.

As the academic year comes to a close, Delena is eager to begin planning what the following year will look like for STEM at Annie Keller. They will continue to use IMSA Fusion, a teacher professional development and student STEM enrichment program, and Project Syncere, a project based learning program focused on increasing the number of minority, female, and under-served students pursuing careers in STEM fields, to further their goals of developing the brightest STEM leaders of tomorrow. In addition to these two outstanding resources, Annie Keller was also recently accepted into the 2015-2016 Cohort II of Computer Science 4 All (CS4All). With this initiative, students will receive heightened access to computer science, coding and other supplemental curriculum. With the support of programs like IMSA Fusion, Project Syncere, CS4All and the 10 year partnership with Great Minds in STEM™ and the Viva Technology Program™, students at Annie Keller are on the right path towards becoming future STEM leaders and Dr. Little is at the front-line.

During her spare time, Delena enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and engaging in home improvement projects.

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