Interviewed by Angel Rodriguez, Jesuit Volunteer
Meet Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Ovalle ‘08, currently the bilingual education programs manager (Network 5) at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Language and Cultural Education.
College: Georgetown University ‘12, located in Washington, District of Columbia
Major(s): Psychology and English Language & Literature, earned an alternative teaching certificate
Here’s a little bit about Jackie. What does post-graduation look like for her?
Jackie is a proud Chicagoan from the Little Village/ La Villita neighborhood. She attended Good Shepherd Catholic school where her classroom instructions & learning materials were given in all English. As a daughter of Spanish-speaking parents and a native speaker, this grade school experience limited her dual-language learning potential and thus led her to reconnect with her Hispanic roots and strengthen confidence in both languages. When her oldest sibling enrolled and attended Cristo Rey, this drew Jackie’s interest. She eventually applied and soon discovered how CR’s dual-language curriculum not only allows her to learn in both languages yet become educated in the Jesuit tradition that celebrates her culture and her whole person (Cura Personalis). She was a part of several on-campus activities and extracurriculars including girls’ soccer, and the Ambassadors club. She graduated from CR and went on to continue her Jesuit Catholic education in Washington D.C.
After graduation from Georgetown University, Jackie landed a teaching job at Marquette Elementary school, an AUSL network school, in Chicago’s Southwest side where she taught English and other subjects to bilingual first-grade students. Within the next few years, she transitioned roles from teacher to filing in the bilingual education coordinator role and mostly worked to improve their bilingual education programs for ESL (English as Second Language) and language learning students. As of this past year (November 2021), she was promoted to a new role through Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and now is their programs manager for their bilingual education programming and initiatives.
As a former CPS first-grade bilingual education teacher, what have you enjoyed the most?
Jackie truly fell in love with the work she got to do with young learners and especially those who resembled much like herself. Most importantly, she felt that she was able to take notice of the power of education in the ways it seeks to bridge gaps and promote educational equity. She said, “Seeing their incredible sparks of curiosity and a keen interest in learning not only made me feel proud and humble but also proud of being able to fuel those sparks and provide them with many opportunities to let their inner child’s wonder bloomed, noticing their drive-in expanding their learning, and reach their fullest potentials”. Being a teacher brought Jackie many rewarding satisfactions and had the honor to walk with her students and offer them the opportunities available to stay connected with their native language and show more appreciation for their heritage.
What special roles or tasks have you carried, as a programs manager, this past year?
As the programs manager, one of my main tasks is to actively visit schools, meet and collaborate with other bilingual education program coordinators, educators, support professionals, and school leadership members to review their school’s program progress and ensure their programming offers a proactive dual-language presence in the classroom setting, and assure the best supports available to educate their ESL students and dual language learners.
How has your Corporate Work-Study Program (CWSP) prepared your current career?
“My CWSP job at Old Republic Professional Liability Inc. (formerly Chicago Underwriting Group) prepared me for my current role(s), and especially giving a glimpse into career possibilities that blend my passion for education and leading others. Having worked as a high school intern in a corporate HR office environment improved my confidence and interacted with office managers and supervisors who exemplify a sincere care for others and their people-oriented work ethics really influenced my professional life as a former teacher, as a former coordinator, and now serving as a manager.”
For prospective families looking for a quality high school, why should they consider Cristo Rey?
“Here are my two reasons why families should consider CR as the best Catholic school option: #1 - The school’s one-of-a-kind dual-language curriculum where students can thrive and keep learning and excelling in their Spanish and English language skills while being supported by the finest teachers and resources available to all students. #2- The school’s promising appreciation of students’ Hispanic heritage through the different activities/extracurriculars, faith-based offerings, and its location that gives students access to Pilsen - one of Chicago’s culturally and vibrantly enriched Latino neighborhoods.”
Last year, Cristo Rey celebrated its 25th year anniversary. As an alumnus of CR, what do you anticipate and hope for the school in the next few years from now? What piece of advice would you give to students and alumni looking into a similar career pathway like yours?
“I am looking forward to seeing the school’s mission and vision continue to inspire and educate the next generations of bilingual/bicultural professionals who will create a lasting impact in their respective industries, in our city, in the United States, and in the world.”
“For those looking into the education field or considering something like it, I would say imagine how your CR education would not only be an enormous asset for yourself but how it will transform communities and highlight the incredible Latino representation that comes with its beauty & strength as we take our seats in roundtable discussions and lead amazing things.”
Thank you to Jackie Ovalle ’08 for sharing your story with us. We appreciate the work you have been doing and know your passion and love of service make an impact on the lives of others! Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.
Would you like to be featured as an Alumni Spotlight? Contact Citlally Delgado, Manager of Alumni Support.