CHICAGO — Alexandria Hollett was less than two months away from becoming a tenured teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Albany Park.
Friday morning, Hollett received a phone call she had been laid off.
Hollett, who was DNAinfo.com Chicago's Teacher of the Week earlier this month for her award-winning tolerance lessons, picked up a call from principal Januario Gutierrez about 11 a.m., and he read her "some sort of prearranged letter," she said.
"It told me my position had been eliminated," she said.
News that Chicago Public Schools would lay off 1,036 teachers and 1,077 support staff members that came late Thursday put Hollett on edge, but she didn't think her school would be greatly affected.
"I definitely felt worried, but within our network, our school is a rising star," she said of the Level-1 school. "Ever since this principal took over, we've had very high test scores. The people who looked to our school to be a leader, I thought for that reason..."
Hollett, 28, said her principal tried not to stray from the pink-slip script, but her short talk with Gutierrez led her to believe eight more positions will be cut at Patrick Henry.
Hollett doesn't know if the positions are all teachers, of which the school has about 45 to 50.
"No tenured teachers should have been cut," said Hollett, who is the school's Chicago Teachers Union delegate. "That would be a very big issue."
Hollett is worried about the challenges that will face her now-former students.
"It seems to me what our kids are facing is many more students in class, fewer teachers that are accessible to them and significantly fewer resources," she said.
And those effects will be hitting kids across the city, she said.
"I'm just very sad about everything that’s happening. We’re talking about 3,000 teachers cut [since May], the largest school closing in the history of United States. ... It's hard to summon that positive energy," she said. "I feel very strongly that this is a plan to prove public education does not work. ... It's continued disinvestment that especially targets communities of color."
Hollett is hopeful about her career — "I can't stress enough, that is such a small concern right now" — but worries about the other 2,000 CPS employees expected to receive the same bad news Friday.
"I'm going to land on my feet. I'm very privileged and very lucky. Many teachers, other educators and other people who work in schools across the district are not that lucky," she said. "This is very devastating to many people."